Latest Ramblings

Why you need to care about the Academic Plan…even if you’re not an academic

August 18th, 2014 | No Comments

Here is my challenge to non-academic university administrators: how do you use the Academic Plan to frame your own 5-year strategic plan?

And a note to my academic colleagues: yes, we admin types are reading, parsing and thinking about the Academic Plan too!

Guided by Priorities

The Administration and Finance Management Group’s fall retreat will be on Ryerson’s new Academic Plan. For all of us, its four priorities will be the foundational guideposts for our administrative and operational responsibilities over the next five years:

Priority 1: Enable Greater Student Engagement and Success through Exceptional Experiences

Priority 2: Increase SRC Excellence, Intensity and Impact

Priority 3: Foster an Innovation Ecosystem

Priority 4: Expand Community Engagement and City Building

This fall’s meeting will be our second retreat related to the Academic Plan and to defining how we can support the university’s mission. Last spring we took half a day to examine the provincial, national and international context related to post-secondary education and then reviewed the then draft academic plan. Later in the spring the group of 50 or so non-academic directors and managers we call “AFMD” (Administration and Finance Managers and Directors) invited Provost Mohamed Lachemi to be its keynote speaker and lead in to an interactive workshop on innovation.

Planning that is Integrated

The objective of our fall 2014 retreat will be to give the Administration and Finance Management Group the time to collectively identify crosscutting values, goals and objectives which will underlie the strategic plans they will each be developing with their own teams—collectively a group in excess of 650 people. This is the first time Ryerson’s Administration and Finance areas have taken on this kind of cohesive and integrated planning related to an Academic Plan. This exercise will build well upon the Mission, Vision and Values we established in 2010.

This isn’t to say that administrative units individually haven’t created their own strat plans in past years. Many have and some are published on those departments’ web sites. We have also developed interdepartmental project teams to address particular challenges or operational needs. For example, right now we are building on work conducted by the Research and Innovation Office to identify opportunities for improved research administration with a team drawn from the Office of the VP Research and Innovation; Financial Services, Human Resources and CCS (VP Administration and Finance). However, in the past we have not together established Administration and Finance longer-term goals and objectives.

This integrated approach to strategic planning for 2014-2019 was contemplated not only by Provost Lachemi’s groundbreaking consultation (notably meeting with leaders in administrative areas multiple times before the plan was finalized), but also in the next steps identified in the Plan itself:

“All academic and administrative units will prepare or renew individual plans that support the university’s future direction set out in the academic plan. Units set goals and objectives for their respective areas and act on strategies contained in the academic plan that are relevant to them.” [Emphasis added]

Building on Strengths

As my team embarks on this process we are enthusiastic but realize we have a daunting task.

We are working within the context of enormous strengths. Ryerson’s reputation is soaring. We have more first choice undergraduate applicants for available spots than any other Ontario university. Our funded research has increased by 40% in the last two years and growing rapidly. We have terrific morale and benefit from students, faculty and staff who have enormous affection for and loyalty to Ryerson. We have in our DNA an academic commitment to societal need that means that we are connected in ways that inspire unique programs, teaching, scholarship, research and creative activity. We are located in a diverse, dynamic urban core. We have a growing commitment to a People First culture that enables the greatest success for our students, faculty and staff. We stand behind our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion with meaningful commitments. Our governance bodies act collegially in all senses of that word and our relationships with our unions are excellent.

We benefit from having a lean administration that permits us to be more nimble than many counterparts (believe it or not!). However, in many respects, we are the same “administration” as we were as a university of 10,000 students that we were not that long ago. Perhaps one way to think of it is that as a relatively young university (just past our 65th anniversary) we are in the administrative equivalent of adolescence: full of talent and potential, fully grown in some respects but not others, perhaps a bit gawky with limbs we can’t always properly control! (I am, after all, the mother of teenagers so this is a metaphor that I can relate to.)

Facing Up to the Challenges

At the same time as an administration we have grown and that means flow of communication isn’t as easy as it once was. We occupy buildings across campus so we no longer find ourselves able to build relationships and get work done in the Tim Horton’s line in the way we might have before. Activities that were the responsibility of one person or at least one unit now might touch multiple departments requiring consultation and collaboration and adding time and complexity.

Systems and processes that evolved when the university’s priorities were different (eg when research intensity was much less) need to meet current and future needs and aspirations. What were cutting edge and early adopter achievements a decade ago may not have the user experience we have come to expect today.

The fiscal, public policy and compliance environments have been in a period of tremendous change over the past decade so accountability measures and expectations (eg audit, risk, safety, procurement directives, granting council and other research funding models, information and privacy legislation and information security norms) have become increasingly onerous and public.

Of course technology and the place of technology in higher-ed have had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on our work and our lives. From big data, to the ubiquity of wireless devices and mobile computing, MOOCs to flipped classrooms, and the “paperless” process from e-hire to online catalogues for procurement: the needs of today and prognostications for tomorrow impact what we all do now (eg planning classroom size and AV/IT requirements for buildings that will open five years from now) and allow us to reimagine our futures. The Academic Plan rises to this challenge explicitly: “Potential enhancements and modernizations to the university’s IT assets, digital communication channels and enterprise platforms will be evaluated, taking into account Ryerson’s reputation for strong digital, design and technology capabilities” (p. 14).

And there is of course space – what some have called our greatest deficit. As a downtown urban campus we have to build space efficiently and thoughtfully. We must consider how and why we use, build and otherwise acquire spaces.  As the Academic Plan indicates: “The university will also consider how existing space might be better used and shared. When future opportunities are presented to build or update facilities, consideration should be given to developing spaces that reflect the principles of the Master Plan, encourage collaboration and foster cross-disciplinary interactions to spark creativity and innovation” (p. 14). Collaboration and partnership are key strengths whether with the private sector (eg Mattamy Athletic Centre with Loblaw), the broader public sector (eg research space with St Michael’s Hospital), or internally (eg hi-def simulation suites to be shared amongst multiple departments in our new building on Church Street). The kind of spaces we build have the potential to create enormous benefit to enhance student experience, as well as enhance the experience of those who work at the university.

Eyes on the Future

We need our administration and operations across the entire University, to achieve the same standards of innovation and excellence as the greatest aspirations of our teaching, scholarship, research and creative activity.

We need to think through what investments (human, technology, space, services) we need to make. We need to determine how to have seamlessness between administrative entities regardless of reporting structures. We need to make it easier to understand what you need to know and how to find that information whatever your role in the university. We may need to consider stopping doing some things in order to do other things better or to start new priorities. We need the leadership capacity to enable all of this important work.

And we need to achieve all of these plans in ways that are not only consistent with, but that enhance and celebrate the University’s mission and vision and breathe life into its values: excellence, the whole person, community and inclusion.

These are all the reasons why an Academic Plan is meaningful for non-academics.

Let the planning begin!

Implementing Your Great Ideas One Step at a Time

August 14th, 2014 | No Comments

Ryerson students will know that two years ago we implemented Soapbox. Soapbox is an innovative technology that aggregates students ideas about how to make Ryerson even better than it is today (access it by logging into my.ryerson.ca). Over 11,000 Ryerson students use Soapbox. Ideas that get maximum votes get looked at by the “Idea Partners.” Over the past couple of years we’ve heard from students a lot about RAMSS (the student information system). Students have provided a wishlist of items for improvement but sitting at the top of that list has been waitlist functionality, ie if you are trying to enroll in a course that’s full why can’t you be automatically waitlisted? Good question! The Idea Partners jumped on the idea and we are thrilled to report that Ryerson’s Registrar (and Idea Partner) Charmaine Hack has started a pilot this fall for waitlisting for some selected courses in the Faculties of Science, Arts and TRSM. You can find more info here:  http://www.ryerson.ca/currentstudents/essr/waitlists/FAQ.html

We are all looking forward to the results of the pilot. Congratulations to Charmaine for the initiative and thank you Ryerson students for using Soapbox to make Ryerson a better university.

Reflections on the Month of June

July 14th, 2014 | Comments Off

Julia Hanigsberg

Photo by Clifton Li

On June 13, 2014, it was my great privilege to deliver the citation for the Honourable Roy McMurtry, upon whom Ryerson University conferred an honourary doctorate.

I took the occasion to share some highlights of the career of this legal and political luminary: Attorney General of Ontario in the Cabinet of Premier Bill Davis where he also served as Solicitor General; key protagonist in the patriation of the constitution and the development of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and principal participant responsible for the November 6, 1981, “Kitchen Accord,” a late-night agreement that broke the deadlock which had arisen in the patriation negotiations paving the way for nine provinces signing on to the constitution; Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; heading up the CFL; Chief Justice of Ontario’s Superior Court; and Chief Justice of Ontario.

While these highlights are exciting and speak to a man who has had great influence in law and politics I shared my opinion that they form an incomplete picture of the man. Roy McMurtry has throughout his entire life dedicated himself with all his considerable intellect, energy, warmth, compassion and wisdom to advancing the well-being of those who society could easily leave behind.

June is always an exceptionally busy, exciting and emotional time on campus. The early part of the month is spent readying and making beautiful our campus to welcome friends, family and new graduates for our dozen or so convocation ceremonies. 2014 was especially busy as World Pride was coming to Toronto and Ryerson and our close neighbours were playing host to many important events. WorldPride is an international celebration incorporating activism, education and the history and culture of global LGBT communities.

In celebrating the accomplishments of Roy McMurtry I closed with an example particularly apt for a sunny June afternoon with Pride celebrations approaching. Now, I expect, for the graduating class of 2014, it probably seems the most normal thing in the world that two men or two women can demonstrate their commitment to each other by being married.

Rewind the tape back to 2003, and that wasn’t the case. It was another June day when the Ontario Court of Appeal, over which Mr McMurtry presided, ruled that the legal definition of marriage was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and ordered that the decision take effect immediately. The Globe and Mail described the profound impact of the decision this way:

“the legalization of same-sex unions was the most concrete sign of the country’s determination to be a socially liberal place, where differences can be celebrated and choice will be honoured.”

As a result of that ruling, The Globe and Mail named Mr McMurtry and his two fellow Court of Appeal judges who rendered this decision “Nation Builders of 2003.”

Despite Mr McMurtry’s great achievements there is still more to be done! I exhorted the grads of 2014 to take inspiration from the life’s work of Roy McMurtry and join him in commitment to building a civil, humane and just society.

Enabling Innovation in Times of Austerity

July 7th, 2014 | Comments Off

Facing Reality

Ontario’s provincial government has targeted eliminating its $12.5B deficit in three years and we know some, if not all, of the implications of that target for Ryerson. What we can pretty safely assume is that there will be little new money and, as they have been for several years now, budget cuts will continue to be a reality.

Despite this, and perhaps because of it, we need to continue to drive an innovation agenda. We can’t possibly argue that doing the same things, the same way can possibly be the best choice going into the future.

Instead we need to look to innovation: we need to rethink how and what we do and reexamine the processes to find the way forward using all the means at our disposal.

Innovation Yesterday and Today

This isn’t new for us. We are innovators at Ryerson and have been for years.

  • When our enrollment growth was outstripping our space we took advantage of the Dundas Square redevelopment to enter into an agreement to use the movie theatres in 10 Dundas East during the hours when they aren’t profitable for commercial use and fitted them up with state of the art technology to meet student and faculty needs.
  • We take advantage of our location in the most active and dense part of our city to make ours a vertical campus eg by building our Ted Rogers School of Management above retail owned and operated by the private sector.
  • Student driven need for athletic and recreational space helped us to be creative in repurposing the historic Maple Leaf Gardens into a multi-use development.
  • We have achieved important sustainability targets and operational efficiencies by reducing reliance on paper in Financial Services long before peer universities.
  • Our student facing social media has been recognized for its leading practices.
  • Our incubator the Ryerson Digital Media Zone has been recognized as #1 in Canada and in the top 5 globally.

Innovation Tomorrow: Collaboration and Intrapreneurship

I’ve written about intrapreneurship and innovation before. Intrapreneurship is how employees within organizations take an entrepreneurial approach and apply it within an organization. Innovation is often defined but at its core is the concept of “using something new, or something known, but in a different way, different time or a different place.”

As we build upon our innovation culture the words of Ryerson Provost Mohamed Lachemi resonate with me. At a recent speech to members of the Administration and Finance Managers & Directors group a key takeaway was that “collaboration is at the heart of innovation.” Mohamed challenged us to build our innovation through the development of collaborative interdisciplinary teams.

Key Ingredients for Successful Innovation

1. Employ the strategies of intrapreneurship by making small moves small changes, testing the waters through pilots

2. Execute the innovative idea but be willing to accept failure as part of the path to learning

3. Develop and lead from an innovation mindset

  • Instead of thinking what services to cut, can we review the entire process or value chain to see if we can remove redundancies
  • Instead to thinking this is how we’ve always done it, can we look at what objective we want to achieve and then review the process to see if it should be done differently
  • Instead of being process focussed, can we be more outcome focussed – who are we serving, who is benefitting, are they really benefitting

4. Team work, especially cross-functional inclusive teamwork, builds better confidence in the new idea because diversity enhances innovation.

Our Time to Lead: Values and Ryerson’s New Academic Plan

June 20th, 2014 | Comments Off

I recently was a speaker at Ryerson’s 2nd Annual Conference for its Management and Confidential Staff (#MACatMAC if you want to take a look at some of the twitter feed from the great event). The theme of my remarks was Value Based Leadership drawing on the values identified in the then draft, now approved, Academic Plan: “Our Time to Lead: Academic Plan 2014-2019.” The Academic Plan is the strategic plan for Ryerson for the next five years.

It is particularly exciting that our new Academic Plan articulates a set of Ryerson values. The values fall under three clusters: commitment to excellence; commitment to the whole person; and commitment to community and inclusion.

It follows that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to the MAC group about value-based leadership. I wanted to emphasize that everyone is a leader regardless of job title or role in the organization. If you have a team that reports to you, you’re a leader. If to get your job done you have to leverage other people’s skills and knowledge, you’re a leader. If you are making change in the university you are a leader. You may express your leadership through volunteerism at work or in the broader community.

So if there is an opportunity for anyone and everyone to be a leader why are values important? Values inform the “how” of what you do and the “what.” Values tie your leadership to things that are meaningful. By looking at our Academic Plan values I asked the MAC group to consider how to directly connect their day to day work to the values that are attached to the mission of the university and our priorities over the next five years. The values also allow everyone who works at Ryerson to find their work reflected in the Academic Plan whether they are responsible for institutional planning, developing curriculum, teaching, preparing food, portering the halls, or maintaining the gardens.

How are you taking Ryerson’s values and making them part of what you do every day?

Can Space Make Change?

April 28th, 2014 | Comments Off

As a city-building university, Ryerson takes place making seriously. We express the importance through our Master Plan and through the buildings we build, most recently the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Ryerson Image Center and Image Arts Building, and the soon to be completed Student Learning Centre on Yonge Street.

But what about the spaces within our buildings. Can we promote sustainability, healthy living and even social inclusion by the way we design the interiors of our buildings? In a recent column in the Globe and Mail Leah Eichler neatly summarizes the research on how dangerous prolonged sitting is to our health. In the article she talks about a Danish designer who designs offices to encourage people to move around by putting printers and kitchen areas far from offices. This is sustainable design in the broadest sense with impact on environment and people.

In our own Financial Services department, individual printers have been replaced by a few central printers both discouraging unnecessary printing and reducing paper use and getting people on their feet when they do need to print. In our Capital Projects and Real Estate department there are few individual offices and standing desks were offered as an option when desks were replaced. As we are designing new buildings we are promoting healthy lifestyles through providing attractive stairs in addition to elevators. We are promoting diversity and inclusion by making sure there are gender neutral washrooms in new buildings and that we create them in existing buildings. Carleton University’s Discovery Centre includes treadmill desks for student use.

By considering intelligently designed open office space, fewer closed offices and interesting spaces for group and private work we can change how we collaborate just as the Toronto offices of Edelman Public Affairs demonstrate in their award-winning space. Ryerson’s new Student Learning Center design prioritizes open student learning and study spaces over carrels or fixed seating.

Can changing the mix of people you have on a floor, perhaps including different units with varied responsibilities break down silos? What about intermingling faculty offices with an incubator? Making changes including non-traditional spaces requires smart innovation, experimentation, intrapreneurship and (more than anything else) trust.

Designing spaces…another form of social innovation.

Work-Life Effectiveness Part III: A Personal Perspective

April 3rd, 2014 | 2 Comments

This is the last in a series of three blogs on work-life effectiveness. In parts I and II I talked about the context for work-life effectiveness and the role of human resources practices and employers. 

As an employee and team member I think I’ve experienced some of the range of what is possible. I’ve had jobs that were 60 hour average work weeks and others where I worked 9 to 5 on the dot.

For example, the first year after my maternity leave with my twins, I worked in a job with a fabulous boss who knew she wouldn’t see my face before 9 am or after 5 pm despite the fact that the job was in a high intensity department at a senior level.  But she trusted me to get things done–and I did (luckily those babies were great sleepers!).  The craziest job I ever had included being glued to my Blackberry 24/7. One Sunday I never got out of my pyjamas because I couldn’t get off my phone and computer long enough to change! The job itself was incredible and exciting and a wonderful learning experience, and unpredictable and ultimately, for me, it was time limited. I identified the point when I wasn’t willing to work at that pace anymore, and having learned a tremendous amount and having had real impact, I moved on to something else that gave me much more flexibility (having already put in place an effective succession plan).

As a leader, what do I do to encourage a culture of work-life effectiveness? I work to discipline when I look at email and when I use technology with my team. There’s no technology at mealtimes in my family. On weekends I will only email staff if it is truly time-sensitive –something that is pretty rare. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes need to work on weekends, but I prioritize, and when it comes to email, I schedule what I write so it doesn’t arrive in people’s in-boxes until Monday (Boomerang is a good tool for gmail users). The same goes for email to my peers and my boss. You can’t reduce your inbox if you clutter other peoples–inevitably there will be a reply!

For ourselves, and modeling for our teams, it’s critical that we each create our own definition of successful work-life effectiveness. That jigsaw puzzle isn’t the same for all of us and over the course of a career it will change for each of us. We need to have empathy for individual priorities and choices rather than judge. Whereas for me, family may come at the front of the line, for someone else that big priority might be high-performance sport. What was important as a mom of infants is different once those same kids are teenagers or away at university. Elder care obligations inevitably come “too soon”and as a surprise, no matter how old our parents are. Exciting jobs may show up at the least convenient times and shifting priorities can make what you want possible even if it at first doesn’t make sense. In my case I had a promotion during one pregnancy and committed to a new bigger job during a maternity leave!

Ultimately, there isn’t a perfect life, but you can be thoughtful about what matters to you and what degree of imperfection you can live with.

I’ve set some key priorities:

Health: Staying healthy and fit is important to my overall mental and physical well-being so I carve out a chunk of time dark and early in the morning for a workout before my family is out of bed.

Loved ones: Friday night dinner is family dinner in my house with 10-12 people at my dining room table every week. I frequently turn down speaking or other invitations for Fridays and am not shy about telling organizers why.

On the other hand, there are things where I am prepared to  accept what’s less than ideal:

Housework/Cooking: My housework begins and ends on our main floor. I don’t even want you to guess what the rest of my house looks like.  And I’ll admit that we’ve gone through too many stretches where “making dinner” has meant dialing our favorite pizza or Indian restaurants.

Work travel: While I could travel more for my job, and I enjoy it, at this time in my life the logistics make much travel too challenging. I know the day will come where the demands on my time are different and I’ll be able to squeeze that travel in.

I’ve read that President Obama wears only grey and black suits to reduce the number of decisions he needs to make each day. We all take shortcuts where we can!

As individuals, as leaders of organizations, as managers of teams, we need to bring our whole selves to achieving work-life effectiveness. I try to model what I believe are good work-life fit examples, and I’m open with my team about the challenges I face and how I succeed (and sometimes fail) to manage them. And ultimately we will be successful if we walk our values and figure out how to put people first.

Work-Life Effectiveness Part II: The Role Human Resources Plays

March 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment

In Part I of this blog series I talked about the context for thinking about work-life effectiveness. In Part III I’ll share my own personal reflections.

While HR policies aren’t sufficient to build an organizational culture that supports work-life effectiveness, they are absolutely necessary.

Policy Needs Culture to Achieve Change

It is critical that organizations put in place those policies that give employees greater choice and freedom within their roles. These policies aren’t just for moms either. Elder care is coming at us like a demographic tsunami and it is one of the most understudied areas of public policy–governments haven’t figured it out–and relatively unexamined by employers.

Flexible work arrangements aren’t just about working from home. There are lots of other examples including flexible work schedules, reduced or compressed work weeks, flexibility around personal time off, self-funded sabbaticals, to name a few. All of these require that both employees and employers be patient and thoughtful. Things won’t always work out perfectly all the time. In some cases arrangements will have to be cancelled by employer or employee. Critically important though is adopting an employment culture that doesn’t see different work arrangements in terms of “keener” and “slacker”! A critical success factor is a culture of acceptance–something leaders need to model in their personal behaviour and respond to their own life needs.

By focusing on some of the basic management skills we know are important, but can lose track of in the mad dash, we can help employees be more effective and we can be more effective ourselves. For example, by measuring performance by clear objectives you can get away from valuing face time. Clear communication practices can help us to lead more effectively and even reduce the burden of the ubiquitous email. Some employers have experimented with prohibiting email evenings and weekends.

The Team Approach

The most effective approaches to cultural shift revolve around whole teams. For example, Dr. Leslie Perlow’s research with the Boston Consulting Group on “predictable” time off,  showed that when the team, rather than an individual, rallied around a work-life effectiveness goal, it was much more likely to be achieved. In that case the team committed to each member getting one evening off no matter how much work the team had or what the deliverable. While individuals were initially reluctant to take their time when their turn arrived, the team supported them and ultimately as a whole was empowered and all individuals benefitted.

Workplace flexibility, when supported culturally, is a benefit to the individual, the team AND the employer. Not only because happier employees are more productive more engaged employees, but also because we can achieve specific business goals and sometimes at reduced cost. For example, if you  have staff who work a 7 am to 3 pm shift and others who work a 10 am to 6 pm to manage child care and commuting, the result is a 7 am to 6 pm coverage without the expense of overtime.

The business case is there for making work and life more effective.

Good Food at Ryerson

March 26th, 2014 | Comments Off

One year ago, I first met Joshna Maharaj. Today she is Ryerson’s Executive Chef and Assistant Director of Food Services. Back then I knew of her as a local food advocate and someone who was working on hospital food reform. Joshna and I originally connected on Twitter and followed up with a meeting in my office. By the end of that first meeting, I knew I’d found the perfect “partner in crime” to create a revolution in food at Ryerson.

From that moment on, Ryerson’s journey to a university where food matters went from a small question (can we make food on campus less expensive and taste better?), to a great idea (can we embrace a politics of food that is not only about great taste and accessibility but also about local production and sustainable sourcing) to execution on a plan that is nurturing the Ryerson community every day.

Working closely with students, faculty, Rye’s HomeGrown, the Centre for Studies in Food Security, University Business Services, the phenomenal Food Services team, Ryerson’s OPSEU leadership and Chartwells (our food management company), Joshna has built Ryerson Eats: a healthy, sustainable food program across campus. Food that is delicious, healthy and sustainable? What a People First way to solve a problem. What a Ryerson way to create an opportunity. What a city-building change making approach to a university service.

The new Ryerson Eats is still in its early days and there is much more to come. But our successes to date are a reminder to me of an expression I first heard used by the late David Pecault: the strength of weak ties–how the connections we make with people can end up propelling us to make changes in our organizations and our world… in this case one cup of soup at a time.

What’s the Big Deal About Ryerson’s Diversity Self-ID?

March 24th, 2014 | Comments Off

What is it?

The Diversity Self-ID is a brief survey all Ryerson employees are being asked to take through the eHR portal (for detailed instructions go here).

Why is Ryerson asking these questions?

At Ryerson we take pride in the diversity of our community and we should. But in order to achieve our goals of inclusion and equity we need to look at who we are and ask ourselves serious questions about how reflective we are of our context (Toronto and the GTHA) and of our students. But without adequate data, we can’t undertake this self-reflection and determine where and what changes we need to make. The Diversity Self-ID will help us build the data we need. As our website says: “It is critical to Ryerson’s success to remove barriers and promote the inclusion of all Ryerson employees, including those from equity-seeking groups. We want to find out where we are in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion to help us determine the best path to where we want to be.”

Why now?

It is axiomatic that what gets measured matters. Collecting employee equity data isn’t new at Ryerson — we’ve been doing it for 20 years or more. However, in the past we have captured the data based on categories driven by rules set by the federal government. In addition, we weren’t sufficiently clear with employees about why we were collecting the data and why it mattered. Not surprisingly not all employees were motivated to answer the questionnaire they were provided when they joined the University.

Over the past several years at Ryerson we have expanded our values around equity, diversity and inclusion beyond what the rules tell us we must ask. For example, in the new Diversity Self-ID survey we have added LGBTQ* to the list of groups. We have also nuanced the definition of different equity categories.

Why should you care about diversity?

I believe that reflecting diversity of our students and community makes us a better university.  Diversity can contribute to increased participation in post-secondary education for groups that have not traditionally been able to access higher education and the opportunities it creates. Exposure to diverse role models help shape aspirations in young minds. Students who experience diverse perspectives are better able to understand new ideas and solve problems, and will be better prepared for the challenges they will face after graduation. These are the city-builders and global citizens of the future: people who will leave Ryerson empowered with the knowledge, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship to engage in social justice and making our world better, both locally and globally.

As the Ryerson Taskforce on Anti-racism told us in its 2010 report “As a downtown institution at the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the world, Ryerson must pursue its mandate to ‘advance applied knowledge and research to address social need’ with the realization that diversity and difference now define such a place of learning and knowledge production.”

Also, as an employer we care about diversity. A diverse workforce contributes to employee engagement. The more diverse and inclusive we are the better our  responsiveness to an increasingly diverse student body, our relations with our multicultural city, and our ability to cope with change, and expand creativity, innovation and intrapreneurship at the University.

Want to learn more?

Our Assistant Vice President/Vice Provost Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and our Assistant Vice President Human Resources have put together a terrific video: ryerson.ca/diversityselfid.  Check out the video and the associated web site for everything you need to know about the Diversity Self-ID.

The Final Word

At Ryerson we Put People First. We can’t do that without your help! Stand up and be counted. Fill out the Diversity Self-ID survey so Ryerson can have the full picture.

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