Changes Coming to the Employment Equity Survey

Having an accurate picture of who is—and who is not—represented in the University of Toronto’s workforce is essential to identifying and addressing equity gaps and systemic barriers within our community. This year, in response to feedback from our community, the University is launching a redesigned version of our Employment Equity Survey to help us better understand and support our workforce.  

What is the Employment Equity Survey?

The Employment Equity Survey is a voluntary, confidential questionnaire open to all appointed and non-appointed employees.   

The Survey provides a snapshot of the demographic composition of the University’s tri-campus faculty, librarians, and staff, and a critical baseline for measuring how we are advancing more equitable, diverse, and inclusive working and learning environments. Ultimately, this information is used to improve our employees’ experience of the University across all stages of their careers. 

Why is the Survey being updated?  

Since the Survey’s last major revision in 2016, our community’s understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as how they might self-identify, has evolved. The updated Survey helps to ensure that the identities of our community are accurately reflected, which will allow for a better understanding of who we are at specific points in time.  

Furthermore, the Final Report of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force underscored the need to look critically at the ways in which existing employee data have been collected and can be collected and shared in future. This is especially important as more Faculties, divisions, and campuses are looking to data to inform their current and future decision-making.  

Finally, the University is aiming to align terminology between the Employment Equity Survey and Student Equity Census, so we can communicate consistently about our entire community.  

What is changing?

Some of the changes employees can expect to see in the upcoming Survey include:  

  • New question added about Religious or Spiritual Affiliation. 
  • New options added for Indigenous Identity, including “Native Hawaiian,” “Native Mexican,” “Alaskan Native,” and the option to self-identify in one’s own words.  
  • New options added for Gender Identity, including “genderqueer,” “nonbinary,” “questioning,” and the option to self-identify in one’s own words.  
  • New options added for Sexual Orientation, including “asexual,” “pansexual,” and the option to self-identify in one’s own words. 
  • Two Spirit is listed as an option for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation only if a person identifies as Indigenous. 
  • Terminology in the Persons with Disabilities section has changed from “non-visible” and “visible” disabilities to “non-evident” and “evident” disabilities. This question also differentiates between the medical and social definitions of disability.  
  • Updated and consolidated approach to questions on Racial/Ethnocultural Identity. 

What was the consultation process?

In December 2021, Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture (PSEC) Kelly Hannah-Moffat sent out a call for nominations to participate in a tri-campus Employment Survey Advisory Group. A total of 29 nominees and volunteers with a wide range of experience working with or being an end-user of equity data—including faculty, equity officers, archivists, researchers, data collectors, data analysts, and administrative staff—came together to form the Advisory Group. The mandate of this Advisory Group was to evaluate the effectiveness of the survey questions; analyze how and with whom the University shares Survey data; suggest updates to make the Survey more comprehensive; and advise on how to make the Survey a more meaningful experience for our community.  

The Advisory Group worked across two streams—one focused on Survey updates, and the other on data governance—to develop its recommendations. Throughout 2022, the University engaged subject matter experts—including the Privacy Office, Multi-Faith Centre, Equity Offices, and their networks across the University—to discuss proposed updates and make recommendations to the Project Leadership Group, chaired by Hannah-Moffat.  

In addition to working with affinity groups and Equity Office networks, the Advisory Group subcommittee invited a wide range of community members—including senior academic and administrative leadership, unions, and the University of Toronto Faculty Association—to share feedback or questions about the proposed Survey revisions throughout the Fall 2022 and early Winter 2023 terms.  

How can I get involved?  

All University faculty, librarians, and staff will soon be invited to complete the updated Employment Equity Survey. By taking a few minutes to answer these questions, you can help inform and provide insight about the U of T workforce. Collecting this data allows the University to determine where employment gaps exist, and where we have gained and lost ground in closing these gaps. It offers valuable insight into where we need to concentrate our efforts in advancing equity and inclusion in our workforce, how we can increase candidate pools, and how we can better support all employees in their career development. 

To learn more, please visit our Employment Equity webpage.