1. Commit to diversity in governance of the association
- Are there targets for diversity in the governance positions and staff (where applicable) at minimum, to reflect diversity in the general population?
- Does the association receive intersectional and disaggregated diversity data on academic staff from the employer and/or collect its own through social mapping to benchmark participation in the association and its activities?
- Does the association have membership engagement officers and distributed leadership to assist in engagement of diverse membership?
2. Include equity roles in governance of the association
- Does the Executive have one or more Equity Officers?
- Does the association have an Equity Committee (distinct from a Joint Equity Committee with the employer)?
- Does the association have caucuses or provide other spaces for dialogue, and organizing for underrepresented group members?
These equity roles advise the Executive on issues and actions, help gather information about what is important to your members, and support bargaining and grievance teams on equity concerns, priorities and language.
In a 2021 review of 81 academic staff associations, 19 have Equity Officers on Executive, 47 have Equity Committees, 41 have some equity-based caucuses and 3 have equity officers on staff.
In some cases, the governance structure of the association is spelled out in the constitution or by-laws. If creating new Executive positions or committees involves a long process, parallel immediate action can be taken by creating an ad hoc sub-group of your Executive or Council that focuses on a specific equity issue. This will help to bring people into the association who are interested in the specific equity issue and signal to the wider membership that these issues are important. The ad-hoc equity committee can then start some of the work that a more permanent structure would do, perhaps by gathering data on representation, promotion, accommodations, or focusing on a specific equity campaign.
3. Use inclusive language and hold inclusive events
- Does the association regularly consult with Indigenous and equity-seeking members on barriers to participation and revise operational structures, policies and practices accordingly? For example, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of British Columbia has a Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization Committee that is looking at different forms of decision-making including alternatives to Robert’s Rules of Order in order to be more inclusive.
- Does the association use inclusive language in its communications with members?
- Does the association organize inclusive events?
4. Liaise with Indigenous communities on whose territory is the institution
The academic staff association should have representatives to engage not only Indigenous staff and students but also local First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities and service hubs (e.g., Friendship Centres) to gain a better understanding of protocols, culturally appropriate services, community needs, etc.
The academic staff association should confirm land acknowledgement and protocols for events and engage with Indigenous members and community on efforts to Indigenize the academy.
5. Commit to using an equity lens
Associations should develop an equity lens to help ask questions, challenge assumptions and identify potential impacts of administration and association policies, budgets, programs and initiatives, that considers the diversity of the membership. Whereas gender-based analysis is most common, it is important to recognize how the race and intersecting identity factors of individuals and groups influence how people differently experience policy changes and cost-cutting measures.
It is critical for associations to take an equity lens to its analysis of institution policies such as budgets and hiring, tenure and promotion criteria, such as the use of student evaluations.
6. Train leadership and staff on equity and anti-racism
Understanding how bias and discrimination occur in the academic workplace and in organizations is a continuous journey. Training from community or campus organizations can provide personal and professional insights and support learning and action to advance equity.
(A note on training: equity, diversity, anti-racism, anti-oppression training is argued by some to be ineffective, or worse, counterproductive. Others show that training within a wider program of change is effective. It cannot be the sole or the biggest egg in a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion basket).
7. Develop equity statements and an action plan
External statements on equity, racial justice, Indigenization and more will build consensus, communicate commitment, and provide a framework for action. A short, medium, and long-term action plan can be developed to help realize the policy statements and should include association work, outreach, education, alliance-building, advocacy, bargaining and policy grievances. CAUT can help facilitate action planning for equity.
The association should also have internal policies and procedures on anti-harassment and discrimination.
8. Engage with campus and community groups
- Organize, participate in, and help promote campus or community campaigns on equity issues, events, or days of recognition.
- Undertake an environmental scan and stakeholder map of equity issues, groups and actors on campus. Meet with stakeholders to understand priorities and possibly common objectives. If welcome, consider creating volunteer roles or responsibilities within the association as liaison to the various tables or groups.
9. Undertake an equity audit of the collective agreement
It is important to seek regular feedback from equity committees, caucuses, and equity-deserving campus and community groups on their working conditions. It is also important to undertake a disaggregated, intersectional analysis of the bargaining survey and other member outreach in regard to bargaining priorities. Use this information to review the collective agreement and set priorities for bargaining for equity.
10. Review, track and report on grievances with an equity lens
- Is discrimination an aspect of a grievance?
- Is there a pattern to violations of a collective agreement impacting certain groups?
- Are certain groups under-represented by the association, and if so, what outreach is planned to better understand the role of the association?
11. Regularly review operations
At least annually, discuss and report on progress. How normalized are equity issues within your association?
- Dedicated officer and/or sub-committee established?
- Relevant data gathering achieved to identify problems and priorities?
- Strategic plan relating to these incorporated into equity officer/ committee workplan/ terms of reference?
- Incorporating best practices for inclusive organizations? And so on.
- Geronimo, Jojo. A Leader’s Guide to Strengthen Unions: Moving Beyond Diversity Towards Inclusion and Equity, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, 2014.
- Harrison, S., Simcoe J., Smith D. and Stein J.. Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions, Professional Learning Series BCcampus Open Publishing, 2018: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationleadersadministrators/
- Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Equity and Diversity Audit Tool. www.yumpu.com/equity-and-diversity-audit-tool-highroad-solution
- Community Wise. Anti-Racist Organizational Change: Resources & Tools for Nonprofits, 2017: https://communitywise.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/AROC-Resources-and-Tools_web.pdf
- Canadian Union of Public Employees. Walking the Talk: A Practical Guide to Reconciliation for CUPE Locals, 2019: https://cupe.ca/sites/cupe/files/reconciliation_guide_eng_final.pdf
- McCuaig, J. and Hutchison, C.. Diversity Through Inclusive Practice: An Evolving Tookit for Inclusive Processes, Spaces & Events, FemNorthNet & DAWN Canada, 2014: https://www.criaw-icref.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Diversity-Through-Inclusive-Practice-Toolkit.pdf.
- Nahanee, Ta7talíya Michelle Lorna. Decolonize First: A Liberating Guide & Workbook for Peeling Back the Layers of Neocolonialism, Nahane Creative. https://www.nahaneecreative.com/products/decolonize-first-a-liberating-guide-and-workbook-for-peeling-back-the-layers-of-neocolonialism
- University and College Union. Diversity in participation: Why it matters and how to promote it, 2016: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8370/Diversity-in-Participation/pdf/Diversity_in_participation.pdf