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Employee voices: Spotlight on employee community networks

Spotlight

By Find out what six community network co-chairs and participants had to share about the work their network does and its impact.

Employee community networks and groups are inclusive spaces for employee affinity groups on campus. Run by employees for employees, the networks have grown to meet the diverse employee population on campus, with eight active networks currently on campus.

Each network contributes to the Ryerson experience by providing a space to discuss challenges and move the needle forward on equity issues so employees can bring their whole self to work. This month, six current community network co-chairs and participants provided insight into the work their network does and value of the network’s impact.

Black Faculty and Staff Community Network

A headshot of Sharmaine McKenzie, the executive lead of the Ryerson Black Faculty and Staff Community Network “The Ryerson Black Faculty and Staff Community Network (RBFSCN), in addition to supporting each other, has been instrumental in supporting black students on campus through mentoring, networking opportunities and the establishment of the RBFSCN Award for Student Leadership. This award recognizes Black Ryerson students who have made an impact in their community both on and off campus. The RBFSCN was also pleased to collaborate with the Office of the President and Ryerson Image Centre to present the Black Star Collection – a three-day photographic exhibition capturing the era of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.” - Sharmaine McKenzie, director, strategic planning and operations, Faculty of Law

Sharmaine is the executive lead of the Ryerson Black Faculty and Staff Community Network.

Employees with Disabilities Community Network

Headshot of Sricamalan Pathmanathan, co-chair of the Ryerson employees with Disabilities Employee Network “The Employees with Disabilities Community Network has been working together to provide a voice for one of the most vulnerable segments of the workforce. Our network provides a safe space for those of us with various types of disabilities (both visible and non-visibile) and with multiple identities. At our lunch sessions, members take turns sharing their experiences, coping techniques and resources that are helpful. These sessions create a great sense of belonging and support, provide opportunities for learning and for fun. Members have shared their gratitude for having such a space, allowing them to bring their whole self to work. Additionally we organize campus-wide events and we advocate for institutional changes based on the experiences of our members.” - Sricamalan Pathmanathan, HR and employment equity coordinator and Susan Silver, School of Social Work

Sricamalan and Susan are the co-chairs of the Employees with Disabilities Community Network.

Immigrant Employees Community Network

A large group of people from the Ryerson Immigrant Employees Community Network

“The Immigrant Employees Community Network includes Ryerson faculty and staff who self-identify as immigrants. Members bring a range of diverse perspectives and experiences of living and working as immigrants in Canada. Some of us have been in Canada for decades and are now Canadian citizens, others are newcomers, however we deal with similar issues, concerns and experiences that are important for our everyday activities. Most of us left behind close family and friends, careers, and had to start from new beginnings. Some of us also belong to other community networks and work together on intersectional issues with the other groups that are of interest to all of us.” - Monika Dacosta, director, total compensation and Mustafa Koc, professor, sociology

Monika and Mustafa are the co-chairs of the Immigrant Employee Community Network.

Muslim Faculty and Staff Community Network

Four members of the Ryerson Muslim Faculty and Staff Community Network

“The Muslim Faculty and Staff Community Network was formed in response to the need of the growing Muslim community on campus and the political climate of North America with rising Islamophobia. The network raises awareness of the issues facing Muslim employees, including Islamphobia on campus, both to the general community and leadership teams. We also hold events, that are open to the Ryerson community, that celebrate the diversity of Muslims and our culture. We celebrated Eid at a community lunch this year, which was a first at Ryerson. We’ve heard from many participants about how it made them feel good to be included on campus, to be celebrating the Muslim identity, which was something they did not have an opportunity to do before. We have delivered training on Islamophobia with the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion, created resources and support for anyone facing Islamophobia on campus and advocated for institutional changes.The work we do is emotional labour, on a volunteer basis on top of our day jobs, however it is very rewarding to see the impact we have on the employees on campus“. - Sakeena Mihar, web content strategist, administration and operations communications, and Sarah Bukhari, administrative coordinator, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Community Services

Sakeena and Sarah are the co-chairs of the Muslim Faculty and Staff Community Network.

Positive Space

Collage of two photos of members of the Ryerson Positive Space Committee

“Positive Space looks for and creates opportunities to make Ryerson a more welcoming and inclusive space for people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. Our team is comprised solely of volunteers who have the challenge of planning events, representing queer interests and issues on committees and working groups, and advocating for individual faculty and staff members, in addition to their regular work responsibilities. As an employee network, we strive to overturn the systemic barriers, microaggressions and outright homophobic or transphobic interactions that some members of the Ryerson 2SLGBTQI* community face on and around campus.” - Adam Anthony, special projects coordinator, Office of the Vice-President, Administration and Operations

Adam is a committee member of Positive Space.

To learn more about the community networks on campus and how to get involved, visit the Equity and Community Inclusion website.