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

by julia.hanigsberg | March 24th, 2014

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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