Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity at Smith

Dean’s Message

This has been and continues to be a difficult time for many in the Smith community as issues of inequity, oppression, discrimination, exclusion and systemic racism have been brought front and centre for us all.

It’s not enough that we identify equity, diversity, inclusion and indigeneity (EDII) as a core value – we must live it, breathe it and firmly entrench it in all we do and do so with intentionality.

We have made progress in recent years including:

  • improved hiring processes to be more inclusive. All members of every hiring panel have mandatory equity training and there is always an Employment Equity Representative on each hiring committee;
  • Increased EDII content in the first and second year undergraduate curriculum, as well as master’s programs curriculum;
  • established in 2017 a dedicated role for Indigenous recruitment and support for the school;
  • added in 2019 a dedicated Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator for the undergraduate Commerce program;
  • partnering with organizations that are leaders in EDII, such as Catalyst Canada;
  • supporting student groups that prioritize EDII, such as EDGE, QCMHA, and Reconciliation on Bay

Clearly, however, there is much more for us to do.

I ask the Smith community to reflect on how each of us as individuals and as part of our community can foster a culture of inclusion, dignity and respect for all. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable for ensuring that our actions speak to our values.

Listening to our community of students, staff, faculty and alumni and learning about their experiences will be part of the process that the EDII Task Force will undertake to gain deeper understanding to inform meaningful action.

We have a lot of work ahead and it will require everyone to do their part if we truly are to build a safe, inclusive and welcoming teaching, learning and work environment for each and every member of the community.

Let’s make it so.

Brenda Brouwer, PhD
Dean, Smith School of Business

Smith EDII Commitment

On September 8, 2020, the faculty and staff of Smith School of Business endorsed the Smith EDII Commitment. The Commitment is a compass to guide our EDII efforts across the school. We have much work to do, but the faculty and staff are motivated to combat racism and discrimination at our school. Along with our students and alumni, there is a determination and a willingness to make systemic change.

Read the commitment

Queen’s-wide Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism

Principal Patrick Deane has released a declaration, on behalf of the university’s administration, to address racism — systemic as well as individual. All members of the senior leadership including Brenda Brouwer, Dean of Smith, have endorsed the declaration as a signal of their commitment to take action to root out the causes of racism within the university and to ensure that those who experience racism and related forms of injustice are treated equitably and are able to participate in the life of the university, fully and authentically. The full text of the Declaration and its commitments can be found here together with a video from the Principal.

Smith School of Business EDII Task Force

A new Smith-specific EDII Task Force was established in Summer 2020. Its mandate is to:

  • develop a strategic plan that identifies actions required to support an academic and work environment at Smith that is open, accessible and inclusive with respect to many aspects of diversity including ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, ability and socioeconomic status;
  • define specific objectives with associated indicators of progress or targets; and
  • provide recommendations for best practices, opportunities for campus-wide collaborations and shared resources, and the creation or modification of policies and processes to promote EDII.

Among other goals, the Task Force will identify systemic barriers to EDII in Smith such as policies and processes, recruitment and admissions, program structure, and non-systemic barriers including lack of awareness and understanding, and attitudes.

The Task Force will develop directives for action in areas including student, staff and faculty communities, curriculum, policies and practices, and physical and virtual spaces.

It will establish an implementation plan for reducing barriers and advancing EDII at Smith as a core value fundamental to all activities, including setting measurable targets to reflect commitment and monitor progress.

To both expand Smith community engagement and accelerate progress, working groups will be formed to carry out specific activities and focus on key issues bringing action items, findings and recommendations forward to the Task Force.

Reporting Events

If you have experienced or are experiencing behaviour that you believe to be inappropriate or improper by someone associated with the school or university, we encourage you to contact the specific resources available so that follow-up and investigation, where required, can occur. Reports of a serious nature can be expected to, in all cases, be treated as confidential and followed up with the submitter to discuss next steps. When reaching out to one of the resources, you can indicate that you are doing so in confidence.

If you are a student you can contact your program team to share your concerns and/or discuss with the other resources here.

  • If you are a student impacted by sexual violence: contact Barb Lotan, Queen’s University Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator by email at bjl7@queensu.ca. Information and options on how to get help and give help is also available at queensu.ca/sexualviolencesupport.
  • If you are a student impacted by the behavior of another student: Queen’s Non-Academic Misconduct office and processes can be accessed here.
  • If you are a student and want to report any matter related to discrimination or improper behaviour in the context of recruitment by external organizations, please contact Mary Elms at Smith’s Career Advancement Centre at mary.elms@queensu.ca.
  • If you are a staff member or the issue relates to staff: contact Smith Human Resources at smith.HR@queensu.ca or Queen’s Human Resources at hrelr@queensu.ca. Information is also available here.
  • If you are a faculty member or the issue relates to faculty: contact Smith’s Office of the Associate Dean, Faculty at jay.handelman@queensu.ca or the Office of the Dean at laurie.ross@queensu.ca , or the Queen’s University Faculty Association.
  • If you are a staff or faculty member and want to report an Issue related to harassment (including workplace, sexual) or bullying, you may refer the matter to Rebecca Jones (rjones@litigate.com) of Lenczner Slaght, Queen’s independent external investigators.
  • If you are a student, staff member or faculty member and want to report any matter related to equity, discrimination, accessibility, or sexual violence you can contact Queen’s Human Rights & Equity Office at hrights@queensu.ca. Find out more here.
  • If you are a student, staff member or faculty member and are concerned about issues of procedural fairness or require advice on university policies and procedures you may contact the Office of the Ombudsperson here.

Reform Smith Proposal

On September 8, 2020, the Dean and other senior leaders received the Reform Smith Proposal, prepared by a group of Smith Commerce students and alumni. On September 18, the Dean sent this detailed response to the group’s co-leads:

Again, thank you for sharing the Reform Smith Proposal, which I have had the opportunity to read in detail. It is clear that considerable effort and energy were invested by you and members of the team in producing this document which I have shared with the task force, its working groups and the executive director of the commerce program.

Reform Smith calls on the school to take urgent action. There can be no doubt about the sense of urgency at Smith for meaningfully advancing equity and diversity issues and we will continue to make public our approach and actions via regular communications to the Smith community and at smithqueens.com/inclusion.

It’s encouraging to see the commonalities in breadth and scope of the key issues identified in your proposal and the efforts underway at Smith and, as appropriate, across the university. Being on the same page with respect to acknowledging that change must span multiple dimensions – from the in- class experience and course content, to training and hiring, to policies and processes bodes well for seeing results that are viewed positively by students, staff, faculty and administrators alike. While there may not always be agreement on the strategy and approach, it is important that different perspectives and viewpoints are shared and heard.

As noted in the report, the key issues vary in complexity as well as governance, oversight and existing agreements and as such, Smith’s EDII efforts must intersect with the broader university (e.g. the Task Force, Undergraduate Admission & Recruitment EDII Task Force, Sexual violence Task Force), the Smith community via the working groups and with program level efforts (e.g. Commerce EDII Committee). This approach keeps multiple stakeholders informed and ensures coordination and collaboration to maximize efficiency and productivity.

The Data & Dashboard project is essential to the EDII strategy (benchmarking, evaluation & assessment and accountability). The value of meaningful and valid KPIs cannot be understated; many are drawn from existing datasets and where needed, standardized approaches to acquiring relevant quantitative and/or qualitative data will be developed. We look forward to sharing preliminary reports through the EDII website.

The Reform proposal shares common ground with the ongoing work at Smith and at Queen’s; most importantly in the goal to better the Smith student experience through advancing EDII. While we can continue to work in parallel, it is my opinion that much more can be accomplished through broad-based collaboration. As I’ve said before, student participation is important. I welcome a conversation about how we can facilitate that in a way that serves our community best.

Brenda Brouwer, PhD
Dean, Smith School of Business

Share your stories, comments and suggestions with us!

Your input matters. Please share your experience at Smith, your ideas and your opinions – we are listening. Thank you.

All content submitted through this form will be shared with Smith’s EDII Task Force. With your permission, some stories will be shared on this site (anonymously). Read comments and suggestions received