Smith EDII Update

Week of May 20, 2021

This is a regular summary of actions and initiatives underway at Smith School of Business to address equity, diversity, inclusion and indigenization (EDII) at the school. Note that these up-dates do not capture every initiative but highlight key efforts.

To view past up-dates, or review information about Smith’s activities in this area go to

Inaugural Smith EDI Director

Tahmena Bokhari, the inaugural Smith Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), joined Smith on May 10. In her role Tahmena will support the execution of Smith’s EDII Strategy & Action Plan, build our understanding of how we can incorporate EDII principles into all we do, as well as help build a community of practice. Tahmena brings more than 20 years’ experience leading organizational change and providing strategic guidance to leaders and teams to enhance and advance positive EDI behaviours and best practices. She has a deep understanding of the complex dynamics of discrimination, racism, systemic inequity and cultural diversity.

Business Schools collaborate to support under-represented high school students

Smith has partnered with Ivey Business School (Western University), Schulich School of Business (York University) and the Toronto District School Board on an initiative to encourage and inform high school students from under-represented groups about post-secondary education, what to expect at university and at a business school, offer support, and remove barriers. Initial outreach is focusing on Black youth. Smith Black Business Association and Smith alumni are participating to provide direct experience and guidance to the high school students. The first virtual event of the soft launch was held on May 12 with a second event scheduled on May 26. Smith’s organizing team is led by Commerce Program Executive Director Lori Garnier, and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Mofi Badmos. The collaboration is led by the deans of the three schools involved.

Blue Sky EDII Fund

Launched in January 2021, the Blue Sky EDII Project fund supports initiatives by teams of Smith students, faculty and/or staff that promote innovations in fostering an inclusive and safe academic and work environment in which students, staff and faculty possess a strong sense of belonging, and are empowered to thrive. Examples of projects that could be funded include the creation of new active learning opportunities, teaching materials, resources, technologies, events, and safe spaces aimed at promoting awareness, inclusion and addressing EDII related issues.

Submissions can be made via the Blue Sky EDII Projects webpage. The deadline is July 9, 2021.

EDII training and education for Smith graduate students

PhD and MSc students will complete four online EDII training modules by August 2021. The modules, offered by Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office, will be an ongoing requirement for new students. The four modules are:

  • Introduction to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion;
  • Unconscious Bias;
  • Call it Out: Racism, Racial Discrimination and Human Rights;
  • Working Together: Building an Inclusive Queen’s Community.

MBA and professional graduate program students are required to complete the same four training modules. Additional training is being implemented starting in Spring 2021 to enhance students’ understanding of Queen’s Student Code of Conduct, including how it applies in an online/virtual environment, such as with Zoom and Slack.

Student Awards, Honours and Initiatives

The Smith Black Business Association (SBBA), formed by Commerce students in Fall 2020, received the New Club of the Year award from Queen’s Alma Mater Society, as well as Event of the Year and Committee of the Year from the Commerce Society. Congratulations to co-founders Julius Adu, Chinni Kanu, and Victoria Chukwuma, as well as the other founding members, and SBBA’s 2020 - 2021 Executive. The Club’s mandate is to eradicate the barriers that affect the prosperity of Black people in the business world, and to provide a space that is safe and welcoming, in which students can learn and grow.

Congratulations to Kelly Weiling Zou (BCom’21) who will be formally inducted into the Tricolour Society at a university celebration being held June 10. The Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award is the highest tribute that can be paid to a student for their valuable and distinguished service to the University. Please read about the inductees and their contributions on the Queen's Alumni website.

The Smith EDII Graduate Student Club and Smith Business Insight co-hosted a speaking event on April 22 with Joze Piranian, MIB’13, on “Overcoming adversity through the lens of diversity & inclusion”.

Career Advancement Centre – “She Leads”

Over the 2020-21 academic year, Smith’s Career Advancement Centre hosted a series called “She Leads”: small group sessions led by CAC staff member Lora Sprigings for students to discuss the challenges unique to women and their ability to secure leadership positions. Sessions were hosted by senior leaders at Smith’s employer partners and had excellent student participation.

Students commented on how the sessions were inspiring and empowering. Topics included:

  1. How to Find Your Voice – hosted by Level5
  2. Women Don’t Ask – hosted by EY
  3. The Confidence Gap in Women – hosted by KPMG
  4. The Assertiveness/Likeability Dilemma – hosted by RSM
  5. Shedding Light on the Experience of LGBTQ2+ Women – hosted by PwC
  6. The Impacts of Imposter Syndrome – hosted by Accenture

Centre for International Management at Smith (CIM)

“Cultural Events and Awareness Days” – CIM launched a monthly communication that is available to Smith students, faculty and staff to build an appreciation for the diversity of activities being celebrated in our community and around the world.

Launching “Diversity Abroad” – CIM has been working with colleagues across Queen’s, student interns, student clubs, and other universities to launch “Diversity Abroad.” The program will provide resources to Smith students participating in international exchange. Areas of focus include: 2SLGBTQ+, faith communities, Indigenous students, mental health, racialized students, and students with disabilities. The goal is to ensure outgoing exchange students are well-prepared for and feel supported throughout their entire exchange journey.

COMM104 Virtual KAIROS exercise

Close to 480 students in the Commerce second-year required Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility course took part in a virtual KAIROS Blanket Exercise offered through KAIROS Canada. This was very successful thanks to KAIROS effectively adapting the exercise to an online format. Following the Blanket Exercise, students worked on specially developed Indigenous business cases which exposed them to knowledge and problem solving that will assist them in supporting economic reconciliation.

Instructors Karen Humphreys Blake, Constance Friesen and Philip Osanic surveyed students following the course to determine its impact and to assist in planning for future years. Survey responses indicated this approach resulted in a significant increase in student knowledge of Indigenous history in Canada as well as a heightening of Indigenous business considerations and knowledge.

EDII Research & Thought Leadership

EDII Research and Thought Leadership Speaker Series – Dr. Saths Cooper spoke in March on “Overcoming Racism and Trauma: Experiences from Apartheid and Psychology.” Dr. Cooper shared experiences of enduring racism in Apartheid South Africa including torture at the hands of the notorious security police from his late teens. He shared how he dealt with these impacts and the consequent trauma in early adulthood, and his decision to become a psychologist while in Robben Island political prison. The event was co-sponsored by the Centre for Social Impact, Smith Research Office, and Smith’s EDII Research and Thought Leadership Working Group.

EDII Research Coffee Chats – the first of the series in 2021 took place in March, aiming to provide a safe space for faculty members, graduate students, and staff to exchange ideas on their projects and experiences related to EDII research. The goal is to learn from each other and contribute to creating a vibrant community of Smith researchers in the EDII space. At the first Coffee Chat, participants presented projects in their respective spaces and discussed the boundaries of EDII research. The Coffee Chats are presented by the EDII Research and Thought Leadership Working Group, and do not require participants to have any specific EDII expertise or knowledge.

Centre for Social Impact

The Centre for Social Impact at Smith hired two paid student interns this summer to support the Indigenous Youth Early Outreach Virtual Summer Camp, in collaboration Ann Deer, Smith Indigenous Recruiter and Initiatives Coordinator. Interns Brynne Takhar and Emily Prpic, both Comm ‘23 are also working on other EDII projects for the Centre.


Smith Updates

Task Force Updates