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Smith equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity task force holds first meeting

Queen’s business school commits to series of actions to tackle discrimination during inaugural meeting.

Smith School of Business
The task force is set to address issues such as racism, representation, and belonging at the business school.

With the Smith School of Business’ newly-formed Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDII) Task Force in place, members have begun the work to advance the business school’s efforts to address systemic barriers to inclusion, and further promote equity and diversity. The group met for its inaugural meeting on July 10, 2020.

“The EDII Task Force serves as a catalyst to drive substantive change; it is about action, not recommendations,” says Brenda Brouwer, Dean of the Smith School of Business and EDII Task Force co-chair. “We hold ourselves accountable for ensuring we foster a culture of inclusion, dignity, and respect.”

Task force members will form five working groups to further focus on target areas of need. The groups will focus on advancing EDII in physical and virtual spaces; teaching and learning; policy, process and practice reform and; advancement and alumni engagement. The fifth working group will focus on rebuilding trust through dialogue and education, including the development of guidelines and strategies for consultative and collaborative student, staff, faculty, and alumni engagement on EDII.

“Over the course of our first meeting, our task force has laid the foundation for the important work that lies ahead, and we are eager to address issues such as racism, representation, and belonging head on,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusivity). “The stories of discrimination and exclusion shared by our students this week on social media have highlighted the need for us to strengthen our resolve to make our campus safe and welcoming for all.”

Coming out of the meeting, the task force committed to re-affirm the observations and recommendations defined in the PICRDI report, and to strengthening the EDII-advancing measures already in place. 

Since 2017, Smith Business has worked to improve its hiring processes to be more inclusive. All hiring panel members receive mandatory staff hiring equity training, and an employment equity representative sits on each committee. EDII programs for students have been implemented, including the embedding of cultural intelligence training into first- and second- year business curriculums. The school created a dedicated function for Indigenous student recruitment and support in 2017, and a Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator was created within the Commerce program in 2019.

The task force is meeting weekly. The working groups formed from the task force will work in parallel, implementing initiatives and involving a broader group of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Members will also consult with equity-seeking students and groups, and alumni to inform these steps.

Learn more about the EDII Task Force and associated efforts at the Smith School of Business.