Western Equity Census
Throughout the consultation process for Western’s new strategic plan, Towards Western at 150, our community expressed a collective aspiration to build a more inclusive culture for students, faculty, staff, and graduates.
Western’s new plan sets out our vision to embed practices and processes related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization, and to cultivate a sense of belonging that supports the safety and well-being of all members of the university community.
Building on the recommendations of the Anti-Racism Working Group Report of 2020, the plan renews our commitment to confront racism and all other forms of discrimination.
To set the future direction of Western’s EDI strategy, however, we must create an accurate picture of where we are and identify where we need to go moving forward.
Beginning in October of 2021, the University is launching the Western Equity Census, our first-ever comprehensive demographic survey for all staff, students, and faculty, which will help us to understand the demographics of the university and enhance the diversity and equity of our community.
To set the future direction of Western’s EDI strategy…we must create an accurate picture of where we are and identify where we need to go moving forward.
Your voice counts and we want to hear from you.
The Western Equity Census provides an opportunity for our community to help create a vibrant, inclusive environment.
The Census, which is voluntary and confidential, will be sent to each member of the community via email and will be completed on the Qualtrics platform. At a later time, the survey will be available through My Human Resources (for employees) and Student Centre (for students).
In the months to come, we will be hosting public engagement events to introduce our community to the objectives of the Census and to drive participation rates forward.
A diverse EDI-D Data Working Group has been established and they are proceeding with a spirit of optimism that we can achieve a high response rate – with a goal of 90 percent participation across the campus – to build institutional capacity and develop best practices for EDI strategies.
Your support is critical and very much appreciated.
~ EDI-D Working Group
An important commitment in the University’s new strategic plan is increasing the representation of equity-deserving groups at Western.
And in so doing, we must create an equal sense of belonging, safety, and opportunity to participate and contribute for all community members.
An essential requirement for Western to fulfill its commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization (EDI-D) involves the responsible collection and analysis of personal information and data that accurately reflect the demographic make-up of our campus community.
Western has developed a draft policy that aims to ensure the approach to EDI-D demographic data collection and use is culturally safe, ethical, purposeful, useful, transparent, and accountable to the campus community.
It also aims to help Western monitor and respond to EDI-D trends and issues, and to help the University report publicly on its progress towards EDI-D goals.
And it aims to protect the privacy and rights of the individuals from whom data is collected in accordance with the principles of Indigenous data sovereignty, Ontario Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism, University policy and agreements, and provincial and federal legislation.
Protecting the confidentiality of individuals’ personal information is our top priority.
The axiom “nothing about us, without us,” will drive this work. We must recognize that the active engagement of equity-deserving groups is critical in the development and implementation of EDI-D initiatives, including EDI-D data governance policy, collection, and analysis.
Western’s EDI-D Data Working Group has been consulting with and drawing on the expertise of appropriate offices and groups at Western to inform culturally appropriate data collection and analysis strategies.
- Campus Council
- EDI Advisory Council
- EDI Student Action Network
- Employment Equity Committee
- Human Resources Information Systems
- Indigenous Faculty Advisory Council
- Indigenous Student Centre
- Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council
- Office of Human Rights
- Office of Indigenous Initiatives
- Office of the AVP (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion)
- Office of the Registrar
- Research Ethics
- Residence Admissions, Housing
- SGPS & Associate Deans of Graduate Studies
- Society of Graduate Students
- Student Accessibility Services
- University Legal Counsel
- University Students' Council
- Wellness & Well-being, Student Experience
- Western Communications
- Western Information Systems Group
- Western Technology Services - Cyber Security
The group is creating data collection and analysis strategies with specific equity-deserving groups in mind, and avoiding the grouping of equity-deserving groups together, being mindful of the unique needs and identity of distinct groups.
And finally, the group is taking an intersectional approach to data collection and analysis, recognizing that a person’s identity has multiple dimensions.
In developing the strategy for this work, data ownership was a key consideration. The Working group knows it is critical to respect that decisions about sharing personal information are a matter of the owner’s personal choice.
Western’s approach is one rooted in integrity and transparency. The Census is being developed by seeking permission from individuals to collect only that personal demographic information which is helpful to advancing our community’s EDI-D goals.
The University will also only use demographic information in the ways described at the time the data is collected; any proposed change in use of personal information will require clear and complete communication with the owners and must include the individual owner’s consent to such use.
Western will collect personal information using methods that are accessible and culturally appropriate for the question(s) under study. This may include, but is not limited to, surveys (e.g., paper or online), private interviews, sharing circles, or group meetings.
Respecting each individual’s right to privacy and protecting the security of personal demographic information collected under the draft policy are of paramount importance.
Access to identifiable data will be limited strictly to authorized University staff responsible for EDI-D policy and initiatives. Appropriate IT security measures (technical and procedural) will be taken to control and protect access to the information.
Only aggregated data (grouped data) will be used for numerical reporting. Where appropriate, small data sets will either be suppressed or consolidated into larger samples or data sets to ensure confidentiality.
Safeguard systems and security protocols for EDI-D data will be audited regularly by an external party independent from the university.
To review a copy of the “Letter of Information” that is embedded in the census prior to requesting your consent to participate, you can do so here.
Individual community members (data owners) will be asked for their consent to provide personal demographic information. Consent means the data owners (that’s you!) can choose to share their data. The census is voluntary.
Community members have the right to refuse to participate. And even if you consent, that consent can be withdrawn if the owner’s personal decisions change (except where the results of aggregate data analysis have already been made public).
Data collected under this policy will be analyzed and used exclusively for the purpose of advancing Western’s EDI-D goals. This excludes purposes related to academic research, but may entail support for more specific administrative initiatives related to:
- workforce analysis & reporting;
- employee recruitment, promotion, tenure & retention;
- student recruitment, performance evaluation, retention & graduation;
- educational programming & curriculum development;
- quality assurance & improvement (i.e., initiatives to establish, evaluate, or enhance standards for administrative processes and university services);
- institutional planning & budgeting.
Western has established a diverse working group to lead this initiative.
Qualtrics was reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee (TRAC) and deemed appropriate for these types of data by the Privacy Office.
The data collected is stored in Canada, on Canadian servers.
All data will be collected, used, and stored in accordance with the University’s obligations pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31.
In December of 2021, the EDI Data Working Group, will publish a university wide report.
In the spring of 2022, we will be able to share more customized reports (e.g., Faculty, Division, etc.)
- Aarti Vyas, Project Coordinator, EDI-D Demographic Data
- Christy Bressette, Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives)
- Erin Huner, Director, Culture and Inclusion, Ivey
- Joshua Lambier: PhD Student – EDI Communications
- Lisa Highgate, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism
- Nancy Stewart, Executive Director and Senior Advisor to the President
- Opiyo Oloya, Associate Vice-President (EDI)
- Terri Tomchick-Condon, Senior Consultant, Human Rights Services
- Terry McQuaid, Director, Wellness & Well-being
- Candace Brunette Debassige, Special Advisor to the Provost (Indigenous Initiatives)
- Mubasshira Khalid, Masters Student – EDI Data Analyst
- Matthew Dawkins, Undergraduate Student – EDI Research and Content Support
- Nicole Kaniki, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism
Western is committed to keeping people as informed and up-to-date as possible about this important project. Individuals with further questions can contact:
Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 80947
Project Coordinator: Aarti Vyas, firstname.lastname@example.org