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Pillar 2: Inclusive excellence

Bringing Our Employment Equity Plan to Life

Dalhousie has placed a priority on enriching and diversifying our faculty and staff by alleviating barriers to employment while actively searching for accomplished and promising individuals from equity-deserving groups, with particular emphasis on Mi’kmaq/Indigenous and African Nova Scotian/Black communities.

Our Employment Equity Plan (2022-2026), resulting from a comprehensive employment-systems review and widespread community consultations, was shared with the community in October 2022 and is a substantial move forward in this direction.

Employment equity isn’t only about meeting recruitment targets. It requires meaningful consideration across every dimension of work, something the plan acknowledges with clear priorities and concrete actions for improving and valuing the full experience of equity-deserving employees on campus.

It starts with building awareness. As Huwaida Medani, manager of Employment Equity says, "I want everyone in the Dal community to know about the plan, to read it, to recognize their role in its implementation, and to help action it.”

Strengthening representation on campus

Progress has already begun on the goal to strengthen representation on campus. The ongoing cluster-hiring initiative aims to correct historic under representation by appointing five Black scholars to the university across faculties, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, while creating communities of support. Increasing numbers of staff searches have been designated to members of equity-deserving groups and we have seen success with Talent Pathways, our temporary staffing program that supports equity-deserving candidates in developing skills and building relationships at the university. Across the university, representation of persons with disabilities has increased substantially, and we have seen an overall decrease of 43% in relation to our Federal Contractors Program employment equity gaps over the past year.

In addition to finding ways to better recognize and value transferable skills and lived experience in Dalhousie’s hiring processes, which will lead to more diverse talent pools and better outcomes, we are also developing ways to provide care and support for equity-deserving candidates throughout the hiring process from outreach to onboarding to mentorship for retention.

Building a welcoming, supportive environment

We need to make sure the effort doesn’t stop there. The Employment Equity Plan acknowledges and hopes to address the unpaid equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) work often shouldered by equity-deserving employees. And it calls on all of us to educate ourselves to be empowered to make Dalhousie a welcoming and supportive place where all employees are able to thrive, grow, and contribute their talent and knowledge.

As Medani describes it, the plan is a living document — one that will evolve and change over time and one that requires active engagement at all levels of the university to realize its aims.  So far, engagement has been exceptional. More than 700 employees from all levels have attended small group sessions related to the plan. Faculties and unit implementation leads meet quarterly to report on progress and share ideas. In a recent workshop focused on rights and responsibilities under the plan, where attendance was restricted to those who identify as members of equity-deserving groups, the demand was so high there is a lengthy waitlist for the next session, which will be offered this summer.

It is only through our collective effort that we will achieve inclusive excellence. The Employment Equity Plan provides clear direction on how to move from commitment to action by collaborating with equity-deserving groups across our campuses throughout Nova Scotia. The outcomes will not only enrich Dalhousie but society overall.