Develop recommendations to increase mentorship/sponsorship opportunities for BIPOC staff/faculty/students.
Mentorship programs are beneficial to institutions, as they provide knowledge, guidance, or advice to support professional development or career advancement. Mentors ideally have more experience, knowledge, and connections to transfer to less experienced individuals in their fields. Existing programs at the University, particularly in the Student Success Office and faculties are well structured and valuable to students and employees. However, these programs are not typically tailored to racialized persons. To the Taskforce’s knowledge, there is only one mentorship program in the University, offered through the Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE), that specifically targets Black, Indigenous, or other racialized employees or students.
Existing mentorship programs for students and employees (e.g., through the SSO, OHD, CEE) need to be reviewed using an anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion lens to revise content for cultural appropriateness and enhance programming.
OHD and SSO should develop mentorship programs for racialized employees and students respectively in collaboration with/through appropriate channels (e.g., BFC, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre), and which address significant events in the lifecycle of employees and students (e.g., freshman year, transitions to the workforce)6.
Race-based, participation, and engagement data should be collected on an ongoing basis to evaluate these mentoring programs, participation and uncover areas in need of improvement.
SSO should partner with external organizations that offer mentorship programs to provide additional options for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students (e.g., ONYX).
Develop Alumni Affinity groups to offer an organized mechanism or channel for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized alumni to provide networking, career advice, or intergenerational mentoring to undergraduate and graduate students from these communities.
A central information resource/hub that acts as a one-stop location for information about mentoring, career development, funding, and other supports for racialized groups should be developed, as students and employees may be unaware of mentorship programs that are available to them.
Suggest mitigation strategies to address conflicting information on how to navigate the system, provide equitable opportunities and overcome barriers for staff and faculty career advancement.
To dismantle systemic barriers in the workplace, it is important to uncover and address problems in policies, processes, and procedures. For this reason, Policy 18 (staff employment), Policy 76 (faculty appointments), and Policy 77 (faculty tenure and promotion) were examined – as these policies address training, professional development, career advancement, and performance management – and must be reviewed through an anti-racism and anti-oppression lens, and using equity, diversity, and inclusion principles.
Develop a framework/program to track the careers of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized employees, and support their professional progress through various mechanisms/systems (e.g., onboarding, peer mentorship, other professional development opportunities) to ensure their long-term retention and to address unique challenges that they may experience.
- This framework should be piloted with the 10 Black and 10 Indigenous faculty that the University is in the process of employing through its two cluster hiring initiatives.
Undertake a consultation process to learn about and address research barriers and particular needs of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized researchers, including a review of recent research in this field.
Identify research funding sources and allocation practices and collect data on current levels of institutional support for research by Black, Indigenous and other racialized scholars, recognizing that funding practices vary considerably from faculty to faculty.
- Ensure consistent startup funding offers and disbursements.
- Set goals and create specialized programs to ensure the continued support of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized scholars.
Conduct a review of hiring practices, training, career advancement, performance management/appraisal, faculty appointments, and tenure and promotion policies – in particular, policies 18, 76, and 77 – using equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and anti-oppression lenses and principles. These policies and their accompanying guidelines and processes should be transparent, consistently applied across the institution, and hold managers/leaders accountable to fair and equitable practices.
The University’s onboarding process should include useful information/initiatives that are specially designed for racialized employees.
Ensure the racial and cultural diversity of academic, student, and career advisors, to provide more culturally sensitive advisory services to students.
Create research awards and additional funding opportunities for Black and Indigenous faculty researchers (e.g., support for open-access publication fees; recruitment of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP); mentorship or networking events; fellowships, research awards and other opportunities for research advancing culturally diverse ways of learning and knowing; and community-based research).
Provide training for staff who support the administration of research, especially for projects with Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities.
Develop recommendations to address how funding in support of professional development and mentorship for BIPOC staff/faculty/students is allocated and implemented.
The Working Group examined barriers and explored funding options for racialized individuals to access professional development and mentorship opportunities and for units (e.g., faculties) to develop and deliver these opportunities.
Internal consultations conducted by the Working Group revealed that access to professional development opportunities is highly dependent on departmental budgets and is also at the discretion of managers and supervisors. Furthermore, the amount of available funds for these opportunities and the process to access them are not always evident/transparent. These factors could lead to inequities and fewer professional development opportunities for racialized employees – limiting their career progression or advancement. The following recommendation is intended to address these issues.
The University should:
- Create a central Professional Development Fund for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized employees that can be used to access professional development and mentoring opportunities.
- Incentivize and support Black, Indigenous and racialized employees to take advantage of professional development funding for their career development or advancement (e.g., take professional development leaves/days, use the 35 hours per year recommended in Policy 18, recognition as part of their performance evaluations).
- Develop data collection and reporting structures to track and measure the use and impact of this fund on members of the Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities.
Develop communication strategies that increase awareness and foster access to professional development and mentorship opportunities for BIPOC staff/faculty/students.
The Working Group held meetings with various stakeholders across campus to identify the challenges with communicating professional/academic development and mentorship opportunities to racialized audiences. Based on the outcomes of these meetings, it was determined that campus units are sending communications on services and offerings, but these messages are not coordinated. It was also discovered that clarity and awareness on available programs and resources appear to be low with regards to these opportunities.
Please refer to Recommendation 8 under “Overall Themes – Communications”.
Develop recommended options for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for BIPOC communities.
Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) are grassroots networks that are voluntary, employee-led, and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with an organization’s mission, values, goals, and objectives. They are typically self-organized and share common interests or experiences that are based on gender, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle, or other such factors.
ERGs provide support for personal or professional development and create safe spaces for employees to be their authentic selves. They are also avenues for advocacy within an organization, with allies sometimes being invited to join these groups to support their colleagues. ERGs are also beneficial for the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach.
Although the Taskforce is presenting a recommendation to establish ERGs that are aimed at members of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities, this suggestion would also be beneficial for a broader rollout of ERGS.
Develop a framework for the formation and implementation of ERGs at the University. This framework should include a set-up process, terms of reference, and guidelines and best practices (e.g., setting up communities of practice/networks; creating safe spaces to promote a sense of belonging) for ERGs.
6Today, there is little representation in some staff and faculty populations (e.g., Black and Indigenous employees), limiting the number of potential mentors that can support the academic/ professional development, career advancement, or system navigation of others who “look like them”. To address this issue, the Taskforce recommends the creation of a mechanism for mobilizing a vetted group of mentors, who are appropriately trained and supported to fill the current void, while the University works to hire more diverse employees.