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Current Landscape of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Current Landscape of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Major events of 2020, including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic and filmed fatalities due to police brutality and inequitable treatment of racialized patient by hospital staff dramatically highlighted the deep societal inequities in Canada and around the world. There is a growing desire to understand how gender, race, socio-economic status, disabilities, education, citizenship status and geographic location impact the inequities and discriminations being experienced by different populations.

These events have also changed the narrative around equity, diversity and inclusion and have cast a critical eye on how some of these strategies are being implemented.

More and more organizations are seeking to develop equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategies and are motivated to review their policies and programs with an intersectional inclusive lens.

While this motivation is a positive step, it is imperative to ensure those that are implementing the strategy have the appropriate understanding of the past and current Canadian context. We cannot address equity, diversity and inclusion without acknowledging and understanding the historical, intergenerational and present traumas experienced by your colleagues as a result of colonialism and systemic racism, the prevalence of gender and sexual orientation bias, and the discrimination facing persons with disabilities.

This report endeavours to ensure its recommendations will help lay the foundation for continuous improvement and reflection.

Setting a Foundation for Effective Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Inclusive research environments work to ensure that members of non-dominant cultural or social groups have a fair chance of progressing in the organization alongside members of the traditionally dominant group. This requires a deep personal and collective commitment from members of the dominant groups.

For an effective equity, diversity and inclusion strategy to have impact, the dominant groups must develop empathy, humility and be responsible for becoming informed about the concerns, harms, and apprehensions of others. Without this, efforts are often performatory and tokenized. Furthermore, the dominant groups must take steps to diversify their own professional networks and step outside their comfort zones.
Guiding Principles:

  • Directors, staff, committee members and principal investigators must be informed about and acknowledge the impacts of colonialism in research, and the impacts of colonialism, systemic racism, gender and sexual bias, ableism, and poverty in Canada.
  • It is important that those experiencing exclusion are not held responsible for explaining and reliving their traumatic experiences or “proving” their experiences are different from the dominant groups.
  • Particularly, given ArcticNet’s diverse communities, it must be acknowledged that it is due to privilege that some members are blind to the inequities within the Network.
  • EDI efforts cannot be activities to convince the dominant groups of the value of EDI work but rather efforts that specifically address improving the experiences of its diverse members.
  • Demonstrate respect by implementing and funding cultural awareness initiatives and workshops on the impacts of colonialism and by remunerating members of marginalized groups participating in those efforts.
  • Determine measurable key performance indicators for each EDI goals for the network and regularly assess ArcticNet members’ sense and perception of belonging, empowerment and progression.