The workshop opened with discussion and stats on UVic's push to increase hiring and recognition of the four designated minority groups: aboriginal, women, people with disabilities, and visible minorities. In the past five years, UVic has brought employment of all groups up to Canadian averages, except visible minorities, which is very off the mark. UVic plans to rectify that in hiring, but is unsure why the group is so under-represented.
The remainder of the workshop focused on cultural awareness, hiring practices, equity concerns, mentoring and retention strategies for minority groups (UVic loses quite a few), and career development. There are elements worth sharing here, but nothing with direct and immediate application. Face to face discussion and exchange is likely the best way to increase our understanding.
If you have an interest in updating your knowledge of UVic's formal policies on diversity or simply wish to understand the issue better, I can invite the workshop presenter, Grace Sneddon, to speak to the unit. Many departments and units have done this. Please let me know. I won't initiate it unless I get feedback from you.
The consensus was that these issues can be best dealt with by revising hiring practices, and through education. The group highlighted that students, staff and faculty must have contact with minorities in the work place, if they are to become more aware of cultural and minority issues. Public awareness starts there.
Last year the Coordinator's group reviewed and revised its hiring guidelines to address equity and diversity. It was a productive and interesting process, one which Ali and I are discussing at IALLT this summer. One result was finding a very capable person in Nicole, and pushing through the reno to accommodate her needs.I was invited to sit on the Uvic Equity Committee, and will do so. There is release time for it, listed as university service.