Celebrating inclusion and mapping out the future of diversity at Queen’s

Employment Equity Forum

Celebrating inclusion and mapping out the future of diversity at Queen’s

Queen’s Hospitality Services earns Human Rights Initiative Award through initiatives that support sustainability and different cultures through dining.

By Eddie Daniels, Communications Manager, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion)

June 6, 2024


Hospitality Services members receive Human Rights Initiative Award

Queen's Hospitality Services team members (starting from second left), Jennifer Pete, Katherine Newstead, Colin Johnson, Theresa Couto and Carl Hanna, are recognized for receiving the Human Rights Initiative Award from Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion).

A diverse collection of Queen’s University campus members gathered inside Carruthers Hall for the Employment Equity Forum, celebrating current employee equity gains and to focus on future recruitment, retention, and professional development efforts..

The forum is a partnership between the Human Rights and Equity Office and the Office of the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion). Held May 6, the event featured keynote speaker Adelle Blackett, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law at McGill University

“I’ve always enjoyed this event,” Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion), told the group. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community and think deeply about how we actually act on our intentions around employment equity and, picking up on Professor Blackett’s comments, how we actually think about meaningful engagement with the most marginalized and vulnerable communities on our campus. And to remember, as Dr. Blackett says, history matters. What a profound and radical declaration to make in these times. That our history actually matters and has impacts on the realities that we’re living today.”

During the forum, Queen’s Hospitality Services was presented with the Human Rights Initiative Award based on initiatives the unit championed to create a more welcoming and sustainable campus community. The unit has actively supported different cultures through dining, including supporting community members observing Passover and Ramadan, in addition to incorporating Indigenous dishes within its menus.

The team also fostered a culture of sustainability with its Good to Go (reusable container) initiative, waste diversion, and farm donations, among other projects. Hospitality Services also supported food security for students through the Swipe it Forward program and the PEACH pilot project.

“It is such a pleasure working alongside a team of inspired colleagues, leaders, and students with shared interests in championing sustainability and supporting responsible food service operations on campus,” says Theresa Couto, Queen’s Wellness and Sustainability Manager. “From idea conception through to the execution of new initiatives, we challenge ourselves to look beyond the confines of limited operations and use leadership to inspire how we channel our sense of social responsibility to support the university's strategic goals, notably ‘Partnering for Change’ and ‘Supporting Our Community.’”

In the keynote presentation, Dr. Blackett detailed the recommendations suggested from the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force, which she chaired, including barrier removal, equity through meaningful consultations, and regulatory oversight.

The report looked at four decades of implementation of employment equity at a range of levels including federal institutions, crown corporations, as well as institutions covered by the Federal Contractors Program, like Queen’s, among other categories. The report was submitted to the federal government in April 2023 and released in December 2023.

“There’s a fierce urgency to this now,” says Dr. Blackett, a principal drafter of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Higher Education. “In this challenge, there’s also, I would suggest, a deep opportunity. An opportunity to say something meaningful about the kinds of commitment that we can make to building places, building spaces where we come to see ourselves. Where we have the opportunity to sit and learn from all of us. Where we can literally enter a space and know that the one and the many, the composite realities, all belong.”

As the task force reviewed the trends of employment equity in the country, Dr. Blackett noted a pattern: number crunching has taken away the careful and purposeful approach to true employment equity, which can impact society.

“Meaningful change in employment equity takes the voices of many,” says Lavonne Hood, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion). “In the room today, people from different perspectives and walks of life offered genuine direction. Adding the wisdom and research from Dr. Blackett only heightened the importance of the work we came together to do.”

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