Explore this page to learn more about the development of Waterloo’s Equity Survey, and watch this short video (run time, about 10 minutes), which provides insight into
- what equity data is;
- what equity data Waterloo already has;
- what is the equity survey;
- why Waterloo is doing this;
- when we are running the survey;
- how it was developed;
- who developed it;
- what comes next; and,
- what happens after that?
To complement this video, we have also include some of the most frequently asked questions.pdf
- Equity Data Survey Project Charter initiated and consultation begins
- Senior leadership supports gathering equity data across campus; initiate passed through Senate
- Consultations, Survey and Data Security Development
- Equity Data Advisory Group forms and meets for the first time
- From consultations and Equity Data Advisory Group, first draft of the Equity Data Survey is created
- Privacy and data security protocols are established
- Equity Data Survey is Launched
- Almost 50,000 students and employees receive the survey through their @uwaterloo email address
- Reminders to participate in the survey are scvheduled for each month (mid-month)
- Equity data collection is paused and data analysis begins
- Data report created and shared with campus community by early December
Additional reports will be released through the Winter of 2022
- Equity Survey migration to enterprise systems planning
- Decision to move data collection to enterprise systems
- Survey re-opened for employees
We have been collecting some equity data in recent years, but we need to expand the data we collect. This survey will be asking for more comprehensive voluntary self-identification in the following areas:
- Indigenous identity
- racial identity
- gender identity
- sexual identity
- religious or spiritual affiliation
- family education background
- Canadian residency status
Creating a more comprehensive data set about the people at Waterloo will help address any areas where we are not serving members of our community.
This survey is the next step in the work of many groups on campus. The Equity Office and Institutional Analysis & Planning developed the survey instrument through consultation with an Equity Data Advisory Group. This group is made up of students, faculty, and staff with expertise in equity and related data collection. Many members also have lived experience as a member of an under-represented group. In addition, the Equity Office worked with Indigenous representatives, and groups such as the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART), the Black Faculty Collective, along with student groups and associations, to ensure that they informed how the survey was developed.
Per Policy 55, the University of Waterloo Survey Advisory Committee provided oversight for the survey. This committee includes the University’s Information Stewards, Privacy Coordinator, Office of Research Ethics, and an expert in survey methodologies.
Once collected, we will use equity data alongside other data and information to answer the following vital questions:
- How does the makeup of Waterloo's community compare to Waterloo Region, Ontario and Canada?
- Are equity-deserving groups participating in the programs and services that Waterloo offers, and how does their participation compare to other groups and the overall university community? What are the gaps and how can they be addressed?
- Do some groups experience fewer benefits or more barriers while learning or working at Waterloo, compared with the overall university community? What can be done to improve any gaps?
What is the University of Waterloo Equity Survey
The University of Waterloo is confidentially collecting equity data about its students and employees. This survey asks respondents to choose the terms that match their identity in different areas, including the following: disability, racial identity, Indigenous identity, gender identity, sexual identity, religious or spiritual affiliation, family education background, and Canadian residency status. The survey takes 5-10 minutes to complete, is voluntary and there is no penalty for not participating. You may skip any survey question that you are not comfortable answering. There is an “I prefer not to answer” option for all questions.
We would like to have an accurate and complete understanding of the makeup of our community; however, we acknowledge that this survey is asking you to share information that is personal. We also acknowledge that this may be information you have not shared in the past. Questions around how your identity is protected, please visit the “How will my identity be protected?” section.
Please read these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information on the commitments the University is making to ensure the data is secure. The FAQs clarify who will have access to this data, how the data will be used, and who you can reach out to if you have any questions or concerns.
What is Equity Data
Equity data describe aspects of your personal identity like gender identity, ability, race, etc. Equity data can also refer to your lived experience. Collecting equity data is a necessary first step for an organization to understand the makeup of its community. Equity data will help the University start to examine the extent to which various groups may experience different levels of access and participation in the University’s life, and may not benefit equally from programs and services. For example, certain groups and individuals who have been historically or currently marginalized may face barriers in accessing services or supports.
What questions will be asked?
Waterloo students and employees will be asked to self-identify in the following areas:
- Indigenous identity
- Racial identity
- Gender identity
- Religion or spiritual affiliation
- Family education background
- Canadian residency status
If you are uncomfortable sharing any of the above information there is a “I prefer not to answer” option or you can skip the question completely. You have complete control over how much information you choose to share.
Basic Survey Information
Why should I participate in the survey?
By participating in the survey, students and employees will be providing the University with important information about our community. Survey results will help us plan programs and supports for under-represented and equity-deserving individuals and groups on our campus. Combined with other sources of data (please see the section on “Survey Data Management” for how other sources of data might be used), survey results will help us examine how well programs and services benefit all members of the University. For more information about why the University is collecting this information see the “Results”.
Don't you already have this information?
At Waterloo, we have collected some demographic data that captures equity data, but the data we have is not complete. This information was voluntarily given by University members through the following surveys and processes.
- The Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey (CGPSS), National College Health Assessment (NCHA), National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) student surveys include questions on gender, Indigenous status and ethnicity/racial identities. These surveys are each run every three years.
- Additional equity data is also confidentially and securely collected and stored within some of the University’s administrative systems such as Quest and Workday.
To identify gaps in equity, we need to collect information more comprehensively and consistently. New members of the community need opportunities to add their data and people need to be able to change or update their information. We anticipate running survey updates about once a year.
What are they key questions motivating this survey?
Equity data at Waterloo will be used with other regularly collected data and information to answer the following key questions:
- How does the makeup of Waterloo’s community compare to Waterloo Region, Ontario and Canada?
- Are equity deserving groups participating in the programs and services that Waterloo offers and how does their participation compare to other groups and the overall University community? What are the gaps and how can they be addressed?
- Do some groups experience fewer benefits or more barriers while learning or working at Waterloo, compared with the overall University community? How can we improve?
How was this survey developed?
The survey was developed with an Equity Data Advisory Group. The Equity Data Advisory Group is made up of students and employees with expertise in equity data and/or lived experience as a member of an under-represented group. The Equity Office worked with Indigenous representatives, and groups such as the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART), the Black Faculty Collective, and student groups and associations, to ensure that they informed how the survey was developed.
The group conducted an external scan (e.g., other University surveys on equity, Statistics Canada, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Data Standards, community consultation), and ensured alignment with existing external and internal policies and legislation guidelines (Ontario Human Rights Code, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Data Standards, and Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) for equity data collection, adapted for the University of Waterloo context.
Oversight for the survey is provided by the University of Waterloo Survey Advisory Committee (as per Policy 55), which includes the University’s Information Stewards, Privacy Coordinator, Office of Research Ethics, and an expert in survey methodologies.
When does this survey take place?
The survey was launched in June 2021 and data collection was paused October 31, 2021. All community members were encouraged to participate and share as much information as they are comfortable disclosing when they received their survey invitation.
We expect that our first status report will be available by late Fall 2021.Data collection will be moved to enterprise systems (Quest and Workday) in 2022.
Who can participate in the survey?
We strongly encourage all Waterloo students and employees to participate in the survey.
How can I participate in the survey?
Data collection for the survey closed October 31, 2021, and will be launched again in Waterloo’s enterprise systems. Over the course of several days in mid-June, invitations with a unique survey link were emailed to all current student and employee UWaterloo email addresses. The survey link were a unique, randomly-generated URL (pseudo-ID) for each student/employee. The survey can only be completed using this URL (pseudo-ID).
Participants completed the survey using the online survey platform Qualtrics. Qualtrics stores data on Canadian servers. CUPE employees received a generic URL in your survey invitation, along with a unique “Activation code” which you can use to access the survey.
An accessible PDF version of the equity survey was available. In addition, paper copies of the survey were available for those who are not able to use the online version. Return envelopes (postage paid) for the completed surveys were provided. No identifying information was included on the form or the return envelope. If you would like to use an alternate format, such as PDF or paper copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualtrics has applied technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to protect information provided from loss, misuse, and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. However, no Internet transmission is ever fully secure or error free. Two-factor authentication (2FA) for survey administrators is also turned on as an extra layer of protection. No additional authentication will be required for students/employees, since each individual will be provided a unique, randomly generated URL. Please do not forward or share your individual URL with anyone else. See Waterloo’s guidelines on secure data transmission for more information.
How long does the survey take?
The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. You may save your responses and return to the survey at any time between June and October 31st 2021.
Is this survey voluntary?
Yes, this survey is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating.
As you are completing the survey, you may also choose not to respond to any question by leaving it blank, or by choosing the “I prefer not to answer” response. You can also change a response before you submit the survey by accessing the survey link in your email and modifying your answers.
You can stop participating at any point by closing the survey. If you no longer wish to receive messages related to this survey, please contact email@example.com.
If you change your mind after submitting your responses and wish to withdraw any responses you have provided, you may do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. After the initial survey in 2021, the survey update process will allow you to indicate if you wish to update your responses, delete your responses or start a new survey.
Can I access/change my own responses at a later date?
Yes. If you started the survey but did not submit your responses, you may access the survey at any time until October 31st using the original survey link you received. If you have already submitted your responses, you can update your responses when a reminder is issued. Survey responses will be collected and updated regularly.
Can I delete my answers or data after I have submitted the survey?
Yes. After the initial survey, you will be able to remove any responses you have provided through the survey update process. No historical data you submitted will be used to generate future reports or analysis. (Please note that reports previously published cannot be changed.) You will be able to change your responses before you submit your survey by re-accessing the original link from the survey email invitation. Each question has an “I prefer not to answer” option. If you no longer wish to receive messages related to this survey, please contact email@example.com.