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Smith EDII Strategy & Action Plan Consultation

Members of the Smith community were invited to review and comment on the Smith EDII Strategy & Action Plan during a consultation process that ended on February 8, 2021.

Background

The Smith EDII Strategy and Action Plan is a framework for an EDII approach that ensures meaningful and lasting change at Smith. The framework is supported by a plan of specific actions with metrics, targets and key performance indicators to evaluate progress and hold the school accountable. Information is included in the document on its development and the many contributions to it. The Action Plan is a living document to be updated annually to maintain momentum and build on gains made.

Consultation Process

The school hosted virtual town halls with faculty and staff, as well as smaller group consultations with the Smith EDII Task Force, the EDII alumni working group, and leaders of Reform Smith and other equity-focused student groups. Approximately 250 individuals participated in these live meetings. In addition, all members of the Smith community were invited to participate in an online survey to provide feedback. Sixty-seven individuals completed the survey. The largest number of respondents were alumni (42%), followed by staff (30%). Faculty, students and members of Smith’s Advisory Board/Global Council each comprised about 9% of the responses.

With the feedback and input provided, the EDII Strategy & Action Plan is being refined, with details added for clarity.

Summary of feedback

Overall, the feedback on the plan was positive with respect to the effort and focus placed on addressing EDII issues and our culture. There is, however, a range of opinion on whether we are doing too little or too much, whether there are too many metrics or not enough, and on some details of the plan.

Alumni, the largest group of respondents to the online survey, were split in their views, with a slight tendency toward negative ratings. Though few provided feedback about shortcomings, those who did directed their comments to specific elements, including too many data points to track, the plan goes too far, and variations thereof.

A recurring comment from the live feedback and online survey was the extensiveness of the action plan and whether we are resourced sufficiently to execute it successfully. We are certainly mindful of the additional effort required across Smith and will monitor the workload and how it is distributed. We are confident that we will deliver on the actions given the commitment of the units involved, the training and resources allocated, the shared effort with other units at Queen’s on a number of actions, and the fact that many actions are already underway.

A few comments expressed concern that if we focus on individual metrics there is a risk of losing sight of the cultural and environmental changes we seek to achieve. While the key performance indicators provide useful baseline, benchmark and change-over-time data, it will be important to analyze the data in a more comprehensive manner to explore and understand interdependencies and associations with behavioural outcomes (e.g., from the planned student climate survey that is taking place in March 2021).

Next Steps

The plan will be finalized, then released and posted in March 2021. Ongoing reporting on Smith EDII initiatives will continue, including the monthly update (subscribe to updates), as well as other ad hoc reports as required. The first annual report will be released at this time next year.

Contact

If you have a question on the strategy development and/or consultation process, please contact Laurie Ross, Executive Director, Office of the Dean, Smith School of Business at laurie.ross@queensu.ca.

Through the efforts of many and the support of all members of the Smith community — faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners — we will succeed in realizing the richness of a culture of inclusion.