In May 2022, the University of Toronto joined partners across the institution in marking one year since the entrustment of the Report of the University of Toronto Anti-Black Racism Task Force. The President, Vice-President & Provost, and Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture commissioned the Report in response to global anti-Black racism protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, local protests against systemic racism in Canada, and impassioned calls from the University community for urgent and meaningful change.
The 25-member Anti-Black Racism Task Force consulted with a range of University partners and working groups. In March 2021, the Report identified 56 action-oriented recommendations to address systemic anti-Black racism and advance Black equity, inclusion, and excellence across U of T’s three campuses.
Anti-Black Racism Task Force at a Glance
At a virtual ceremony in May 2021, Task Force co-chair Roger Bulgin expressed “hope and optimism” in entrusting the Report to the University, adding that it has the potential to “act as a catalyst in addressing not only anti-Black racism, but also xenophobia, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.”
Igniting Inspired Action
Since the Report’s release in 2021, students, staff, faculty, and librarians across the University community have collaborated to develop initiatives that directly address the Report’s recommendations.
The programs and initiatives launched across U of T in response to the Task Force Report cover a cross-section of the U of T community, spanning areas of academic research and funding, student life, recruitment, and employment equity.
A selection of these initiatives follows.
A Campus-Specific Approach
Recognizing the unique landscape and priorities of U of T’s
tri-campus community, the UTM and UTSC Equity Offices have established institutional operational groups focused on developing campus-specific approaches to implementing the Report’s recommendations.
In 2021, the Vice-President and Principal, UTM and Vice-Dean, Academic and Dean launched the Anti-Black Racism Operational Group in partnership with the University of Toronto Mississauga Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office. The group of students, academics, and administrative staff (coordinated by Heather Hines, Acting Director of the Office of the Vice-President and Principal) initiated an implementation plan. Going forward, it will match the Report’s commitments with specific UTM partners, sharing action plans and timelines, celebrating milestones, and suggesting areas in need of additional resources.
The U of T Student Equity Census Advisory Roundtable added a more fulsome question on racial and/or ethnocultural identity and updated the categories and format of the gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability questions. Student response to the revised census has been very positive, with engagement more than doubling in its second year.
People Strategy, Equity & Culture
Recommendation 3.3: That the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity strike a committee, with Black voices well-represented, to assess ways in which existing employee data can best be collected and presented in ways that are respectful of the law and privacy needs, but that enable the community to assess accurate rates of employee representation across the University.
The Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture (formerly Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity) issued a Call for Membership for a new Employment Equity Survey Advisory Group in December 2021. Its responsibilities include evaluating the current questions in the Employment Equity Survey and exploring how the University can best analyze and report employment equity data.
Recommendation C.1: That central Human Resources & Equity develop, in consultation with U of T Black and racialized employees and EDI experts, a guide to best practices in recruitment and selection, to be used by all hiring panels and HR representatives at the University.
In collaboration with the Institutional Equity Office, the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture developed a Diversity in Recruitment Manual, released in early 2022. In addition to identifying barriers for Black applicants in the recruitment and hiring process, the Manual encourages Unconscious Bias training for recruiters and interview panelists.
“The Report of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force speaks powerfully to the necessity of change in our systems and practices. By fully supporting Black excellence, access, and inclusion across our three campuses, we create the conditions for all of us to thrive—and an environment where every member of our community can meaningfully engage in the opportunities and activities this University has to offer.”
– Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture
To communicate institutional progress on implementing Task Force recommendations, the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, and the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture collaborated to launch an interactive Commitments Dashboard. In future phases, this dashboard will be expanded to provide progress on the University’s commitments to all institutional equity reports in addition to Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, U of T’s TRC Steering Committee Report. The dashboard will also include status updates on equity programs and initiatives across our three campuses.
Resources and Links
- Anti-Black Racism Task Force
- Report of the University of Toronto’s Anti-Black Racism Task Force
- Commitments Dashboard
- Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture
- University of Toronto Mississauga Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office
- University of Toronto Scarborough Equity, Divesity & Inclusion Office
- 2021 University of Toronto Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Report