The University of Montreal has made Mediacorp’s list of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the first time.
Mediacorp has released its 2022 list of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. The University of Montreal is one of the 75 selected organizations and the only Quebec institution of higher learning to make the list. It was the first time UdeM participated in the Diversity subcategory in the Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition. This recognition is a testament to the University’s sustained efforts in recent years to strengthen its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
“It’s quite an achievement to be recognized as one of the country’s best employers on this score in our first attempt,” said Dimitri Girier, Senior Advisor on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Human Resources Department. “The number and quality of the University’s EDI efforts spurred us to submit an application this year. The process of listing and summarizing our multiple actions, programs, training activities, partnerships and projects to promote diversity and inclusion showed us how far we have travelled in a short space of time and will help us chart our course for the future.”
Recent changes to the University’s governance structure, such as the appointment of an associate secretary general responsible for equity, diversity and inclusion and relations with Indigenous peoples, and the launch of the Pour l’équité et l’inclusion and Place aux Premiers Peuples action plans to help guide UdeM’s development through 2023, were among the factors that made the University stand out. The new Prix de la valorisation des langues autochtones, changes to internal processes to foster inclusion, and the creation of four working groups to address specific EDI issues were also points in UdeM’s favour.
Our engaged community
While the actions of UdeM’s administration over the past several years have helped accelerate the EDI transition, Girier believes the contributions by the members of the university community should not be overlooked. Having given more than 25 workshops on unconscious bias since taking up his position in 2019, he has found that mindsets are changing and people are increasingly open to the cause.
“In the past, I felt we had to convince some people of the importance of EDI and relations with Indigenous people in our daily activities,” he said. “Today, there is so much interest among support staff, administrative staff, administrators and faculty that we are struggling to cope with the demand for training and support in this area. It’s a great problem to have! Our challenge is and will be to maintain this level of interest in the long term.”
Many tools are now available to help members of the university community learn about and adjust to the new vision, including an inclusive writing guide, a guide to best practices in using preferred first names, and a guide to inclusive behaviour.
Managers and HR have also been encouraging staff members to complete the EDI self-identification questionnaire. It was formerly a printed form but has now been put online. Girier has updated it and added new questions on immigration status, sexual orientation and whether respondents are willing to be contacted about their EDI and Indigenous relations practices.
“Putting the form online has given us a more accurate picture of our community,” said Girier. “We’ve created anonymized dashboards to show where the gaps are greatest and where we have to take action.” Of the staff members who have filled out the updated questionnaire, more than 1,000 have indicated a willingness to be contacted. This made it possible for the disability working group to consult more than 100 employees to better understand the daily challenges some of them face and to make recommendations to the University.
Looking to the future, Rector Daniel Jutras says the University will build on its momentum. “I consider equity, diversity and inclusion, and relations with Indigenous people to be particularly important,” he said. “I am convinced that having a community that is rich and proud of its diversity, one that provides its members with an open and respectful environment in which to live and work, is a precondition for our collective success. This is one of the reasons why we have made pluralism one of the pillars of our strategic plan. So we will be talking about EDI more and more regularly in the coming months and years, and every member of our community—students, faculty and staff—will be called upon to help us achieve the ambition we have collectively embraced.”