Self-identification: Take five minutes to count yourself in

Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Students in a classroom

The University of Ottawa is home to people of a multitude of backgrounds, cultures and identities. While we celebrate our differences on campus, it’s also important to ask: Are all members of our community included? Do we protect each other from discrimination or exclusion? Do we feel free and supported to realize our potential and form high performing, operationally excellent teams?

With these questions in mind, President Jacques Frémont created the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in 2016. The purpose of the committee was to identify barriers to inclusion and to propose initiatives to bring traditionally excluded persons into our research, teaching and administrative communities. 

After a long process of research, consultations and data analysis, the committee has launched a critical initiative in its work. Faculty and staff are now able to access and complete the University’s self-identification questionnaire. The slogan is “Count me in / Comptez moi.” Students will be invited to access the platform in the near future.

“The self-ID questionnaire is a quick, simple questionnaire you can update any time you wish,” says Steffany Bennett, special adviser to the president on EDI.  “It takes less than five minutes to do, is completely confidential and will provide invaluable data about who we are at uOttawa. This information will be used to design and evaluate initiatives to promote true inclusion at uOttawa...together.” 

The questionnaire is accessible though VirtuO and soon on uoZone. Faculty, staff and students will anonymously self-identify in terms of gender, indigeneity, racialization, accommodation/disability, LGBTQIA2S+ preference, language preference and proficiency in Canada’s official languages. The Human Rights Office will be responsible for confidentiality, ensuring only disaggregated data is used by the University community to inform and prioritize EDI initiatives.  

Moreover, by simply counting yourself in, you enable inclusion. The Office of the Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs, will donate $1 to a scholarship fund for uOttawa students incorporating the principles of EDI into their academic and research projects each time someone completes the self-ID questionnaire.

In addition to the self-identification questionnaire, the University has undertaken these initiatives: 

Establishment of a joint uOttawa/APUO Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) as mandated by the APUO collective agreement 

The EDIC progress report covers gender representation, salary differences across APUO faculty and best practices at Canadian universities.  

Appointment of special adviser, diversity and inclusion

As mentioned above, Steffany Bennett, professor in the Faculty of Medicine, has taken on the position of special adviser, diversity and inclusion. She will help share existing Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) membership data on gender, both with uOttawa leadership and the federal government. She also championed the University’s successful application to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Dimensions pilot program, and is now leading our program efforts.

Joint APUO-employer gender pay gap assessment  

A group is evaluating potential gender pay gap differences among our full-time professors and determining how differences will be rectified.

Dimensions pilot program

As mentioned above, NSERC has chosen uOttawa to participate in the Dimensions pilot program. Since September 2019, 17 Canadian postsecondary institutions have developed self-assessment teams to coordinate EDI data collection, analysis and action planning. At this stage, participants are collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to perform an in-depth reflective assessment of uOttawa’s systems, practices and culture. This will lead to an action plan with goals based on identified gaps, barriers and trends.

Unconscious bias awareness training for all faculty hiring committees

Through a joint partnership between the APUO and Human Resources, HR’s Kate Townsend is conducting training sessions for those involved in selection committees and other hiring roles. She is also developing awareness campaigns to reduce instances of unconscious bias and to foster a sense of belonging for all on campus. 

EDI assessment as part of our Canada Research Chair recruitment

Since 2017, the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program has required that institutions develop their own EDI action plans, to report current EDI figures and to outline how they will meet EDI targets with regards to recruitment, appointment and retention of CRC candidates.

Presidential Advisory Committee for an Anti-Racist and Inclusive Campus

The president also created the  Advisory Committee for an Anti-Racist and Inclusive Campus to offer guidance on how combat racism and promote diversity, acceptance and inclusivity across the uOttawa campus. 

Back to top