Putting People First

by julia.hanigsberg | September 12th, 2011

Ryerson is at an extraordinary moment in its history today and we definitely continue to dream big for tomorrow. Our people—faculty, students and staff—have brought us to this stage and are the key to the future of the University. 

Critical to our success is that we prioritize our employees by establishing Ryerson as a high engagement, diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace—a best in class employer. What does this mean? A place we’d never want to leave and where the most talented and in demand want to work, teach and conduct research.  

These concepts have long been embraced by Ryerson. Almost 20 years ago Ryerson’s Senate considered and approved institutional aims that included respecting all employees, treating one another with trust and dignity, fostering a fair and equitable environment, that is collaborative, that values and encourages each employee’s potential. Through these Senate-approved aims, Ryerson has long declared itself dedicated to equity, diversity, accessibility, inclusion and freedom from discrimination and harassment; an environment that is caring, safe and humane. (See: Senate Policy 103: Mission and Aims of the University).

A High Engagement, Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Workplace

So where do you find the person responsible for delivering on this critical University priority? Look in the mirror!  We are all leaders of this University.

What do I see when I look in that mirror? Here are just a few examples drawn from my team.

  • Last year we revised the equity statement on our job postings to include persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • We’ve hired two terrific new advisors in Human Resources: the Aboriginal Services Consultant and the Accessibility Coordinator.
  • Last year training on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was taken by over 5,000 Ryerson employees, contractors and volunteers.
  • Staff from a number of areas including Food Services and Campus Facilities and Sustainability have come together to make the new weekly Farmers’ Market on Gould Street a favorite destination on Tuesday afternoons.
  • We continue to work on upgrading automatic door openers across campus and making other physical improvements to our space that make it beautiful, healthy, safe and accessible to all.

When I look across the University what are some examples I observe with pride? There are many but they include the Aboriginal Education Council; Accessibility Awareness Week; NoBarriers@Ryerson; Viola Desmond Day celebrations; the Task Force on Anti-Racism; the faculty teaching awards; the 25 Year Club celebration; and the OPSEU Star Awards. Many of these are initiatives that are borne of collaboration among students, faculty and staff, unions and other groups, and there are many other examples.

But perhaps the best examples are the ones that happen quietly, one on one, individuals going the extra mile for each other. A professor from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science recently emailed to tell me about a symposium he hosted and the terrific service from a CCS staff member. A student contacted me via Twitter to tell me about the help Ryerson Security provided when his car was broken into. An enriching developmental opportunity for a long-serving employee was developed by two senior directors.

But We Shouldn’t Pat Ourselves on the Back—There is More to Do

My team has new initiatives in the planning stages for 2011-12 including establishing a new Employee Assistance Plan, a new award for employees in the Management and Confidential (MAC) group (thanks HR!), and some enhancements for those of you who bike to campus. Stay tuned for more news on these initiatives and others coming soon. I’m excited about all the possibilities. Are you?

What are you doing to enhance this great workplace every day and whatever your job? You’ve got the power to make change. There are opportunities whenever you answer your phone or compose an email; walk down Gould Street; arrive at a committee meeting; talk to one of your staff or a colleague or your manager; when you plan for the future of your unit, department, your own performance objectives; when you celebrate accomplishments big and—most importantly—small.  Make a suggestion by posting your comments!

Creating a high engagement, diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. Putting people first. It’s my job and yours too. Let’s get it done.

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