“Proudly diverse and intentionally inclusive.” “Committed to creating spaces where you can bring your whole self to work.” “A People First philosophy.” These are phrases we hear often at Ryerson, but what does it mean in action? How do these phrases translate into lived experience and resources for our employees? One key example is through our employee-driven community networks.
Similar to employee resource and affinity groups, community networks have existed for many years in other industries. Employees from various equity groups come together in a safe, collegial space to discuss relevant issues and share experiences.
Community networks foster support and belonging, and provide members the opportunity to engage with colleagues they may not otherwise meet.
Together, participants discuss strategies to enhance their work lives, remove barriers to inclusion and provide mentorship. The goal is for these meetings to improve someone’s ability bring their whole self to work - it also contributes to the retention of valued, diverse employees.
Both the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Human Resources encourage leaders to allow time for employees to start, join and participate in community networks.
Through conversations hosted by EDI in fall 2013, community members expressed interest in developing community networks. With encouragement from the Office of the Vice-President Administration and Finance, EDI began to support Ryerson employees to establish networks.
EDI was already supporting Positive Space, a longstanding coalition of staff and faculty dedicated to creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for Ryerson’s LGBTQ+ employees.
While supported by EDI, each network is unique and operates independently, taking the shape determined by its members.
Started in April 2015, the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Faculty and Staff Community Group seeks ways to support each other, learn about the university system and develop ideas to promote inclusion. Current meeting ideas include beading, a medicine garden on campus, drum socials, traditional teachings, hikes and an Indigenous Arts Festival.
The Black Faculty and Staff Community Network provides an organized support system to enhance Ryerson’s academic mission and cultural diversity. Since launching in October 2014, the group typically meets twice a term to network and host guest speakers. In collaboration with the President’s Office, the network presented “Learning through the Lens: Representations of Race in the Black Star Collection”, a photographic projection presented in conjunction with the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) in March 2016.
The Employees with Disabilities Community Network includes faculty and staff who experience both visible and nonvisible disabilities. The committee brings together employees with lived experience of disability to create a space to support each other. The network also raises awareness and advocates to promote an equitable and inclusive workplace for all.
If you have ideas for networks that would benefit the Ryerson community, contact the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at email@example.com or 416-979-5000, ext. 3243.
You can also connect with an existing one – check out their webpage on the EDI website, or contact their coordinators directly.
|Black Faculty and Staff Community Network||
Carol Sutherland firstname.lastname@example.org
|Employees with Disabilities Community Network||
Sri Pathmanathan email@example.com
|First Nations, Métis and Inuit Faculty and Staff Community Group||
Laurie Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org