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ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE: VISIBLE MINORITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO Chandrakant P. Shah, M.B.B.S, FRCPC, S.M. (Harvard), O.ONT. Professor Emeritus, Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto August 2019

ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE: VISIBLE MINORITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO Chandrakant P. Shah, M.B.B.S, FRCPC, S.M. (Harvard), O.ONT. Professor Emeritus, Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto & Honorary Consulting Physician, Anishnawbe Health Toronto & Honorary Staff Physician, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.

Abstract I was scheduled to retire in 2001 from the Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and two years prior to that I realized that the department has no planning to replacement of mine or my other colleague – both of us being visible minorities – defined in Employment Act. I began advocating for recruitment policies at the University of Toronto supporting the hiring of visible minorities. My work to achieve this goal included: i) Completion of preliminary research that indicated 8.7% of faculty members at the University of Toronto were visible minorities, compared to 57% of students. ii) Circulation of an open letter to all Department of Public Health Sciences faculty members and graduate students detailing the inequity- which resulted in a taskforce being established to address the issue. iii) Creation of a mathematical model (in collaboration with a colleague) indicating that hiring of 15% of all new recruits at the university would take an average of 53 years before the university’s 1,700-member faculty would achieve the goal of 15% minority representation. iv) Participation in media coverage, which revealed employment equity challenges at universities across Canada. v) Organization of a public forum with over 500 participants on March 21, 2001, International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Subsequent to implementation of the policies of proactive recruitment, the 2017 Employment Equity Report at the University of Toronto found that representation of minorities had increased from 8.7% of faculty members to 17.0% and almost 25% of new faculty members hired are now visible minorities.


ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE: VISIBLE MINORITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO In 1999, with my retirement quickly approaching in 2001, I began to notice the lack of visible minority faculty members in my department. At the time, there were only two individuals who belonged to visible minorities amongst the Public Health faculty, including myself. Under Federal Employment Equity Act 1995, member of visible minorities means persons other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour (Employment Equity Act 1995). I was retiring in 2001 and my Chinese colleague was set to retire in 2003, leaving behind a completely white faculty that did not reflect the multicultural nature of the student body or the City of Toronto, of which visible minorities constituted 57% and 37% of the respective populations (Friedland M, 2013). At this time, the department was undertaking strategic planning for the next five years and, as an associate chair, I was a member of a number of committees analyzing the future of the department. I consistently attempted to inject into the discussions the importance of faculty diversity, but these attempts were always met with a wall of silence. From my conventional education and experience, I had always believed that public health practitioners were much more aware of social justice and equity; however, in my faculty, it seemed that this belief was evident when it came to larger public health issues but, collectively, they had failed to realize the importance of applying the same principle to their own faculty. I quickly came to the realization that the marginal intake of Public Health faculty who could be described as visible minorities was a systemic problem. Issues faced by Visible Minorities in Canada Being a visible minority and extensively working with the aboriginal population, I had developed a sound understanding of Canada’s diversity issues throughout my years in Canada.


Canada had a long history of racial discrimination since its inception; originally with aboriginals, then Chinese, East Indians, Jewish and Japanese among others. In 1962, Canada ended racial discrimination as a feature of its immigration system. In 1967 a point system was introduced to rank potential immigrants for eligibility (Dirk GE and Foot R. 2017) This resulted in an influx of Canadian immigration from almost everywhere in the world, giving the country a multicultural demographic (Canadian Social Trends 2003). However, despite this infusion of culture, many Canadians were still accustomed to the homogeneity of a largely white Canada and did not readily or warmly welcome their newly minted fellow citizens (Chui T. and Zietsma D 2003). Many new visible minority Canadians faced discrimination because of their skin colour and cultural heritage (Palmer H & Driedger L 2015). Their individual achievements in education and career experiences from their lives before Canada were often ignored; few visible minorities were able to return to school or overcome hurdles in the form of extra training or the multitude of licensing examinations so as to gain the necessary qualifications to harness their true potential (Oreopoulous P 2009). This systemic flaw in Canadian society resulted in the white homogeneity of experience-intensive careers, such as within the University of Toronto’s faculty. Of course, some visible minorities did manage to overcome these obstacles and gain entrance into such faculty positions, but these individuals were exceptions and, while racial and cultural diversity in Canadian workplaces was increasing, it was at an incredibly sluggish rate (University of Toronto 2000). However, in Canada, there was a steady increase in the number of visible minorities attending post-secondary education, often the children of first generation immigrants whose parents were professionals. These new Canadians valued and understood the importance of higher education compared with many Caucasians who had immigrated earlier in Canada’s


history as trade persons or labourers. The reason behind this was that when Canada opened its immigration to non-Europeans in 1963, it mainly allowed highly educated professionals such as doctors and engineers from developing countries as the immigration system was based on point system which favoured immigrants with professional or technical degrees (Chui T & Zietsma D 2003). The increased amount of visible minority professionals seemed to indicate that Canada’s white homogeneity was beginning to crumble at a much faster rate. Diversity in the workplace seemed to be on the way to becoming a recognized fact of Canadian life. Sadly this was not the case and racial diversity continued to develop at a snail’s pace, for a variety of reasons. The issue of racial prejudice was certainly a major factor, as many Canadians were keen on clinging to their perceived homogeneity and superiority. This often led to white individuals with the same qualifications as visible minority peers being favoured by employers, leading to the perpetuation of homogeneity (Oreopoulous P. 2009). As a professor and associate chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, I was determined to make sure that the Department of Public Health Sciences installed measures that would combat such discriminatory practices and encourage diversity within the entire department.

Tackling Diversity in Department of Public Health Sciences I began my diversity campaign by bringing the problem to the forefront of the Department’s priorities through a series of department-wide petitions that outlined our current state of affairs. i To my relief, I found an overwhelming number of supporters within my peers and from the graduate students, who wrote to my Chair about the need for an inclusive faculty. Some graduate students even indicated that in the future they would not consider continuing to work


with the department unless the department became inclusive. The large number of e-mails received by the Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences took him aback. I had a very close relationship with him, so he was a bit hurt by my actions and asked me why I had not approached him before sending the e-mail. I told him of four instances when I had tried to broach this subject, but he had seemed to ignore the issue. He acknowledged the faculty and student sentiments and set up a taskforce to address the issue. I was asked to be the Chair of the taskforce, but I declined the invitation, as I understood that the faculty who would work beyond my retirement would have to live with the decisions of the taskforce. The Taskforce The mandate of the taskforce was to resolve five main goals: 1. Develop recommendations for enhancing the ethno-racial diversity of the faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences, for the next wave of hiring and for the longer term. 2. Develop recommendations for enhancing, maintaining, and supporting the ethno-racial diversity of the student body. 3. Develop recommendations for curriculum revisions in different streams of public health to include subjects dealing with ethno-racial diversity such as racism, equity, concepts of health and healing, models of healing, as it pertains to public health and the required competence of graduates of our programs. 4. Develop goals, objectives, strategies, and measurable outcomes for each of the above for inclusion in the departmental 5-year plan. 5. Develop recommendations regarding monitoring and evaluation, accountability structures, etc. The taskforce was established at the end of May 1999; a committee was constituted to


include representation from white and non-white faculty and students, as well as an individual from the community, and chaired jointly by a faculty member and senior graduate student. The taskforce met five times in May and June of 1999, and continued deliberations via email throughout July. The committee consulted with members of other departments on campus, which had initiated action on issues of ethno-racial diversity, and with members of University administration whose portfolio included specific responsibility for such issues. It also reviewed the literature pertaining to how to promote a diverse faculty composition, how to proactively recruit for visible minorities and how to retain the faculty once recruited, how to develop course curricula to include anti-racism, social justice and equity, knowledge of healing practices in different cultures, nuances of health and healing etc. including documents produced in this and other departments and other universities. An interim progress report was given at a departmental meeting in the third week of June. A draft of the report was circulated widely within the department and to several members of diverse ethno-racial communities. Comments were solicited, with the final report revised accordingly (Poland B, Power E et al 1999). While recognizing that many specific issues covered in this report could be expanded on considerably, the desire was also to produce a report of manageable size and complexity. The report stated that the short-term vision for the Department was to make a strong commitment to address issues of ethno-racial diversity in its curriculum, in its hiring policies and practices, student recruitment and retention, and take active steps to develop the leadership, infrastructure, awareness and broad-based support, linkages, resources, and other changes required to make this happen.


The long-term vision for the Department of Public Health Sciences with respect to issues of ethno-racial diversity was for the Department to have a minimum of 15 percent of its tenuretrack faculty identified as visible minorities and aboriginal peoples (as within the Canadian population, the composition of visible minority at that time was 15% (Poland B, Power E. et al 1999)). This would be closely linked to developing a student body that reflected the ethno-racial diversity of the community as closely as possible, as some of the community such as black and aboriginal students were under represented. In such situations, summer mentorship programs for these students will encourage gaining entry into the program as has been done in Faculty of Medicine at the university (University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine 2018). The taskforce was also aimed at constructing a supportive and welcoming climate that is conducive to the retention of minority faculty, staff and students and a curriculum and research portfolio that adequately reflects the importance of cultural background. Race, ethnicity and culture are considered important social determinants of health (Mikkonen J, Raphael D. 2010). Department and university having diverse faculty with lived-experiences doing research in issues related to racism and discrimination in the healthcare system, and having student bodies with differing viewpoints would help in decreasing health gaps and achieving health equity (Poland B, Power E et al 1999). The following were the recommendations the taskforce put forward in their report: 1. The Department of Public Health Sciences make an explicit commitment to ethno-racial diversity of the faculty and student body and for curriculum renewal vis a vis race/ethnicity/culture be included in the departmental 5-year plan; 2. Resources are committed to ensure that the Department is able to meet its goals regarding ethno-racial diversity within the specified time period; 3. An implementation committee with a chair be established as soon as possible in the


Department to conduct more detailed planning, and to oversee implementation, monitoring and evaluation; 4. The implementation committee should include viable subgroups that will specifically address issues of (a) faculty recruitment, (b) student diversity, (c) curriculum renewal and (d) research; 5. The implementation committee should include significant representation from ethnoracial communities, constituencies outside the university that have a stake in the training of our graduates (e.g. Toronto Public Health), other Departments on campus who have been successful in making the changes proposed in this report, relevant NGOs, and University interest groups. University Wide Approach The warm manner with which my suggestions were embraced, prompted me to begin to broaden my targets. To begin this work, I decided that a thorough analysis of the current University of Toronto faculty would be a useful tool to bring about change. Particularly, I was interested in addressing the future of diversity at the university and its growth rate. At this time, the University of Toronto was coming under public scrutiny as a Chinese Professor, Kin Yup Chin, in the Faculty of Engineering was denied tenure and had accused the University of discrimination and racism in their decision (CAUT Inquiry 2006). A social-minded law professor and a dedicated activist student body took up his case; I was also asked to join their group, however I declined, realizing that focusing on a multi-pronged approach would do more to further the cause. I also became aware that in September 1986, many Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto, became signatories to the Federal Contractors Program, which allows the university to bid on federal contracts over $200,000. In becoming a participant, 9

University of Toronto certified its commitment to implementing employment equity in accordance with eleven criteria. Appendix D clearly states that the university must comply by the “establishment of goals and timetables for the hiring, training and promotion of the designated group employees” (Government of Canada, 2013). I began to study the composition of the University’s entire faculty, particularly noting the number of visible minorities and using data available through the University of Toronto Employment Equity Reports. I discovered that in 1990, 9.4% of the faculty members were selfidentified visible minorities whereas, in 1999, representation had fallen to 8.7% (University of Toronto, Governing Council 2000), despite University of Toronto President Pritchard’s pledge to increase diversity in his 1990 inaugural speech. ii At this time in my career, due to my work in Aboriginal Visiting Lectureship, which had drawn the favourable responses across the university, I was fairly known in the President’s office. Armed with the information obtained within my department and from the University, I called the President’s Executive Assistant for a meeting to discuss the University of Toronto’s lack of diversity. We had a long meeting, during which he tried to assure me that the University was taking all the necessary steps—he believed my concerns about the lack of visible minority and Aboriginal representation within the University were unwarranted. At the end of the meeting, I handed him approximately 30 emails I had received from my own colleagues in my department that discussed their unease with the lack of diversity at the university. As politely as possible, I asked him to “take off his rose coloured glasses” and see the problem in its real light. To my surprise, the next morning he called me, acknowledging my concerns and recommended that I speak to the Provost who deals with academic and faculty matters. Knowing how the university worked, I told him that it would take a long time before I could possibly 10

receive an appointment with the Provost. He assuaged my fears, informing me that he would facilitate the appointment for the next day! During my meeting with the Provost I again outlined my concerns about the lack of the university’s diversity. He was unconvinced though, and tried to reassure me that I had no reason to worry; he believed the university was doing all it could. He asked me to have patience. I was disappointed that I had not managed to convince him of the alarming nature of the disproportionate composition of the University’s faculty. This was especially disappointing because of Dr. Prichard’s pledge after the publishing of Report of the Presidential Advisors on Ethno-Cultural Groups and Visible Minorities at the University of Toronto in 1990 to address issues of ethno-racial inequity. iii From 1995 to 1998, I was a Chair of the Faculty Council in the Faculty of Medicine. At the time, I had never seen any implementation of these recommendations—at no point were the Report’s recommendations ever considered during faculty hiring or curriculum creation. This was a major problem, compounded by the fact that important events that would have a profound impact on faculty composition were beginning to transpire. In 1999, the Provost’s office had announced that the university would be hiring 100 new professors per year for the next five years (University of Toronto Planning for 2000; 1998). As well, Prime Minister Jean Chretien promised that the Canadian Government would support approximately 2000 new research chairs in universities across Canada over a few years after 1999; U of T was likely to get a further 200 to 250 of these new academic positions during this period (Lawrence S. 2001). Thus, the University of Toronto would be hiring approximately 750 new professors from 1999 to 2004. At the time, I could see that the hiring that would occur in the next few years would have a significant impact on the ethno-racial composition of U of T’s faculty for many years to come; 11

once appointed to a job, most individuals stay at the job for a minimum of 30 years. As mentioned above, my meeting with Provost lead me to believe that faculty diversity was not on administrative agenda. Finding Evidence For a while, I was lost. I had no strategy. I had no ammunition to fight injustice. My mid was troubled. After a few months, it became clear to me that I must supply information on this issue that was backed by concrete evidence. Academia always believes that decisions are supposed to be made evidence-based. It occurred to me that the University of Toronto prides itself as a national university. If that was so, its faculty must, at a minimum have minority representation that exists at the national demographic level. In 2000, 15% of the Canadian population was made up of visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples (Poland B, Power E et al 1999, ibid.); hence the faculty should target at least a 15% visible minority composition. The Psychological Association in the United States of America at this time, had also published that meaningful representations of visible minorities in organizations must have a critical mass of 15% (Stricker G, Davis-Russell E, 1990). Working with a graduate student, Dr. Tomislav Svoboda, began to construct a mathematical model that would use past trends in diversity, such as the number of visible minorities hired per year or the visible minority turnover rate, to approximate the future composition of the University faculty, in terms of diversity. However, upon the complete development of our model, it became clear that the results were so alarming that there was no conceivable way with which the University would not be forced to act. Using our simulation model, and a "minimal" hiring practice where 15 per cent of new recruits belong to visible minorities as an approachable goal rather than a quota, we found 12

that it would take somewhere between 25 and 119 years (average 52.5 years) to reach a desired minority rate of 15 per cent. I could scarcely believe the findings. I had not dreamed that the faculty composition issue at the university was so ridiculously out of hand. While I would have preferred to present my findings to the president, his office seemed to show little interest in my cause. Also, this was around the time when the University of Toronto was recruiting its new president and I wanted to make sure that the new President understood the issue of diversity and would be committed to addressing the issue in meaningful manner. Because of this, I felt that garnering a large amount of public support would best suit my cause. Mobilizing the Community To do this, I approached the Bulletin, a University of Toronto newspaper, and the Toronto Star. I prepared a report concerning our motivation, our findings and what we hoped to achieve. The article was published in the Bulletin on January 10th, 2000. A follow-up look into our process and our opinions was also published on the same day in the Toronto Star. iv


The following is a graph that accompanied the Bulletin article; it depicts the projected trend in diversity growth at the University from the year 2000 to 2060. (Figure 1). These published articles generated widespread media publicity and I was overwhelmed with the requested interviews by print, radio and television media both from mainstream and ethnic media. I even received a letter from a Canadian Senator, the Honourable Vivienne Poy, indicating her support and offering the help of her office to aid my cause; I also received a few negative comments in the media about the reverse discrimination if we were to implement employment equity. I also received a malicious letter that wanted me to go home if I was not happy with Canada, which was promptly handed over to the police. In order to convey the magnitude of my endeavours I have included the letter. v Creating Harmony within the University On the day of the article publication in the Bulletin and the Toronto Star, I felt that it 14

was only right to get out in front of the issue and reconcile with President Prichard, who I knew would be discontent with the massive amount of negative publicity that the University of Toronto received. I sent him a letter in an attempt to clarify my intentions, so that we could, together, create a better future for the University. The following is the letter I sent him on January 11th, 2000 to him and copied it to Chair of Governing Council, Vice Provost and number of highranking officials on President’s academic team, and number of relevant deans and chairs of the departments across the University. Dear President Prichard: On a reflection of the events of January 10th i.e. publishing an article in Bulletin on Diversity, my interview in the Toronto Star and a number of media inquiries on the issue, I thought I should write to you. I want you to know that my sole intention in publishing and publicizing the findings of my research was to sensitize all of us and to create a healthy debate around the issue of minority hiring. I did not mean any harm or disrepute to our great institution and your and other individuals’ leadership in tackling this issue or singling out any department or faculty. I also have no personal gains to be made as I retire in 18 months. I am of Jain faith and the following prayer/verse indicates my true feeling towards you and others, who will be receiving the copy of this letter: I grant forgiveness to all living beings And may all living beings grant me forgiveness No one is enemy to me, and I am enemy to none. My friendship is with all living beings. Whatever wrong I have done by 15

My thoughts, words or deeds, I ask forgiveness and absolution. My experience around the issue of equity and diversity leads me to provide you with the following suggestions, which you may want to consider: The success of any policy towards equity will need harmony between races. Harmony comes with respect, acknowledgment, acceptance and trust of others as equals. Before finalizing the policy on ethno-racial equity, I suggest that Prof. Rona Abramovitch call for campus wide town hall type meetings with faculty members, students and community at large to ask for their input on how to attract more qualified visible minority candidates to apply, how to retain them once selected and finally how, if capable, such individuals within the faculty can be promoted to higher administrative positions. This consultation process will bode well with all concerned. Prof. Abramovitch may consider a respective constituency as a Co-Chair to help her in the process. It would be further helpful if the University of Toronto showed its commitment to the faculty, students and community at large about its intent to address the issue of diversity in the faculty. I suggest the following: An Equity Advisory Committee to the President or Vice-Provost reporting directly to you, which advises and monitors the situation on equity. I am also going to suggest an unorthodox method. The United Nation has declared March 21st as an Antiracist Day. On this day, the University with its constituencies: administration, faculty, students, staff and invited community members have a Celebration Procession or an event affirming our belief in Equity followed by a release of a policy statement by you, which may have emanated from the above process. The other venue of the release of the policy statement may be a Symposium organized by Prof. June Larkin, which is supported by the Provost’s Office under its ethno-racial 16

initiative, which is being held at the end of the March. If I can be of any assistance in the process, I will be happy to help. Again I ask of forgiveness of each and every one of you. Sincerely yours, C. P. Shah, MD, FRCPC A New Strategy for a New President As mentioned earlier, President Prichard’s term at the University was coming to a close; he would be leaving the university at the end of June 2000. The University had been looking for his successor for several months, and they soon announced that Dr. Robert Birgeneau would be replacing Dr. Prichard in July 2000. Wanting to continue applying pressure on this new administration, I composed a letter that served to inform him of the University of Toronto’s lack of faculty diversity, put forth specific recommendations, and included 26 members of faculty who had pledged their support for my campaign. vi Twenty-six professors who signed this letter were from wide range of faculties. At the time of this letter, the Faculty of Medicine’s seat on the governing council had recently vacated, and a new member of my faculty had to be elected in their place. Realizing that the best way to get the voices of the pro-diversity movement heard was to gain a seat at the governing table, which decided upon such University wide issues, I put my name forth for the upcoming election. I was elected as a member of the governing council, starting July 1st, 2000. My success meant it was much easier to push forward the diversity issue and make policy makers aware of diversity problems. In October of 2000, my group made a presentation to the governing


council, which was a large step for us, as it exponentially increased the force of the governing council to address the lack of faculty diversity.

Confrontation vs. Conciliation It was at this time that I began to formulate an idea that could potentially propel the prodiversity group forward with greatly accelerated impetus. The diversity campaign faced two challenges; first, many people dismissed our message as being unimportant and were largely apathetic. Second, because so many people were apathetic to our cause, it was hard to show the governing council the large amount of people who did support us. I realized that an event where these people could congregate and express their concerns and plans for the future was a necessary step for our cause. Initially, I thought we should march on the campus protesting the present status quo. However, I realized that it would be better to be conciliatory so as to achieve our goal as promptly as possible. This was the birth of the Diversity Celebration. The United Nations had proclaimed March 21st, as a Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination and I felt such a day would be the perfect backdrop for my group’s pro-diversity message. We planned to invite administrators, faculty, and students from all ethnic groups to collectively celebrate this day and showcase some of the successes different faculties had achieved in fighting racism within the University and highlight the importance of diversity at the University. In addition, we intended to invite some high-ranking community leaders from Toronto to speak. I proposed a gathering at the University’s Convocation Hall, where we would celebrate and commend the President’s office for their achievements in promoting diversity and their ongoing efforts for the cause. Convocation Hall holds approximately 1000 people and was an ambitious venue to use. I invited the recently appointed President to speak about the


University's progress in fighting racism and improving diversity, encouraging him to announce his office’s goals and their proposed timetable, both of which were required by the Governing Council Policy document of March 28, 1991. Our hope was to inspire the President to develop definite plans for encouraging diversity, proving to the community that the university was committed to employment equity. In addition to the President, we invited the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, the Chief Justice of Ontario who was well known for fighting racism and discrimination, and Zanana Akande, a former Minister of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament (an MPP) and a woman of colour, to speak at length about the importance of increasing diversity in the workplace. In addition, the Mayor of Toronto’s office sent a representative to the celebration to indicate the city’s overall support for our cause and Canadian Senator Vivienne Poy, a large proponent of diversity, was also in attendance. A few years later, Senator Poy held the position of Chancellor at the University of Toronto. Chief Justice McMurtry spoke about the importance of creating change that is motivated from within one’s understanding rather than legislature that mandates social interactions—he explained that humanity is only truly obliged to an effort if it is a part of their moral code. I have included a short excerpt from his speech that outlines these ideas: “My many years as a lawyer, attorney general, and as a chief justice, have made plain for me this palpable truth that the law alone is not enough to protect those who are a different colour, or those who profess a different religion. The law will never be enough, by itself, because there is no legislature in the world capable of legislating ultimate principles. You cannot legislate to what degree a man must love his neighbour, nor even that he must not hate him. It is, I think, true of tolerance as it is of liberty, that, in the words of justice learned hand: “...It lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no court, no law can save it; no


constitution, no court, no law can even do much to help it; but while it is alive, it needs no constitution, no court and no law to save it”. But merely because no law can stamp out discrimination, it is equally true that it will flourish the more for lack of any laws against its flourishing. And so I come to what I perceive to be the responsibility and challenge of the law -- namely, to ensure that whatever prejudices may lie in the hearts of men and women, they are not translated into actions that offend the basic principle that except in self-defence it is wrong to hurt another person.” (McMurtry R., Personal Communication). Following Chief Justice McMurtry, Zanana Akande elected to highlight the obligations that the university had to its surrounding community, extolling the benefits of working as a single body to promote diversity, which can be seen in the following excerpt of her speech: “I come from another part of the wider society. I come this afternoon as a representative of the multi -racial communities who live and work in this country, this province, this city, this community and contribute to their development; people who have graduated from this and other universities and whose abilities and skills we need and use; people whose tax dollars are used indiscriminately to support this place of learning; students, many who had had to hurdle exceptional barriers to attend this institution. I come as a representative of those groups who still do not see themselves reflected in the permanent academic, research or leadership staff of this institution. We hope that our voices also will be heard, and in volume commensurate with our numbers; for we are many” (Akande Z., Personal Communication). To complete the celebration, President Birgeneau stepped up to podium to explain his perception of diversity at the University of Toronto and his plans for the future. He spoke about the marvellous amount of cultural diversity within the city and commended his predecessors on


cultivating an extremely diverse student body. He also included a short summary of his proposed changes to University policy that would directly promote diversity amongst the faculty. The following excerpt concerns these changes. “In all of our hiring processes, we will need to think about visible minority representation, and also about Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and, in areas where they are underrepresented, women. How can we transform our faculty in this way? We must take concrete measures in order to achieve the promise that we have set before us: First, deans and department heads must make full use of opportunity appointments. This will allow us to bring to the University of Toronto significant numbers of world-class researchers and educators from groups that are currently underrepresented. Second, all search committees must be pro-active. We can no longer choose from those who simply apply. Our commitment is to the continual improvement of process; to energetic and proactive efforts in outreach, and not to mandated outcomes. Such proactive searches are now made much easier by new government guidelines that, in most fields, allow us to search for the best people worldwide. We have already seen success in emphasizing this approach, and we are working on further mechanisms and avenues to bolster our efforts. One new and highly promising suggestion is that we institute a mentoring program for young visible minority faculty to help prepare them for leadership positions. This should help to redress the under representation of visible minorities in the senior academic administration. Recently we have hired a consultant as an employment equity adviser. She has been charged with giving us advice on employment equity policy and practice for both staff and faculty. In addition, we are about to appoint a new Vice-


President, Human Resources with a strengthened mandate for employment equity as a central focus of the portfolio. This will be a vital tool in pushing forward the employment equity agenda for faculty and staff� (Birgeneau R., Personal Communication). The atmosphere was electrifying and gave the pro-diversity movement in the workplace only more motivation to succeed. After the celebration had concluded, I discovered that over 700 people attended the event, a number vastly bigger than the 400 attendees I had predicted. The forum was incredibly successful, and I found that it did indeed provoke several policy changes at the university. Notably, the University of Toronto developed a policy and a procedure for the Proactive Recruitment of Faculty Members of Visible Minorities. This procedure sought equity by mandating that each search committee for any new faculty position be required to have a member appointed by a Provost on the committee. This member was tasked with ensuring that the process was executed as outlined in the policy, that due consideration was given to advertising strategies and interviewing visible minority candidates. In addition, the annual performance review of the Deans and Directors by the Provost was changed so that it included an item that identified the advances in faculty composition. I believe it was hard for the University of Toronto to accept the systemic problem that was lurking in its structure, but when confronting it, U of T rose to the challenge admirably. POSTSCRIPT In 2010, I was browsing their latest annual report on employment equity and found that the percentage of visible minority faculty members at the University of Toronto had risen from 8.6% in 1999 to 14.9% in 2010 (University of Toronto Employment Equity Annual Report 2010) a figure which we had predicted would only occur in such a time frame if the hiring committees were to take 25% of their new recruits from the visible minority population.


My original department was transformed into the School of Public Health within the Faculty of Medicine in 2014, further metamorphosed into the independent Faculty of Public Health, but chose to retain the title Dalla Lana School of Public Health in 2017. In 2017, one of their newsletters referred to a task group looking into diversity within the school. I wrote to them about the existence of taskforce report done in 1999, and was somewhat surprised to learn that they were unaware of its work. I have read a recent University of Toronto, Employment Equity Report 2016-2017 which indicated that 17% of surveyed faculty members identified themselves as belonging to visible minority compared with 22.3% of Canadians identifying themselves as visible minorities (Employment Equity Report 2016-2017; Statistics Canada 2016). This is a very encouraging; however, the work is never finished!


References Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT): Chin Inquiry. Canadian Encyclopaedia: Canadian Social Trends: Update on Canadian Mosaics, 2017, P. 19-23, Chui T. and Zietsma D.: Earnings of Immigrants in 1990, Canadian Social Trends, Autumn 2003, P. 24-28. Stats Canada Catalogues No. 11-008. Dirks G E, Foot R,: Immigration Policy in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopaedia, 2017, Friedland M. (Ed) University of Toronto: A History; Second Edition, 2013, University of Toronto Press. Government of Canada, Employment Equity Act (s.c.1995, c.44); Government of Canada The Federal Contractors Program for Employment Equity, October 2013. Lawrence S. Seats of Power, University of Toronto Magazine, Winter 2001 Mikkonen J & Raphael D. Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts 2010, P.45-48; Oreopoulous P. Discrimination against skilled immigrants in the Canadian labour market, 2008 09 Palmer H & Driedge L: Prejudice and Discrimination in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2015. Poland B, Power E, Chalin C, et al (1999) Report of the Task Force on Ethno-Racial Diversity. (Formerly Department of Public Health Sciences) Faculty of Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto. 1999.

Stricker G., Davis-Russell E. et al (1990) Toward Ethnic Diversity in Psychology Education and Training. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Statistics Canada: Census Profile 2016 Census, Visible Minorities;

24 Count&SearchText=Canada&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=Visible%20minor ity&TABID=1 University of Toronto: Planning for 2000: A Provostial White Paper on University Objectives: The Bulletin, 52:6:1, October 6, 1998. University of Toronto, The Governing Council: Report No. 106 of the Business Board: Employment Equity Reports 1997-98 and 1998-1999; Page 24-25; June 22, 2000. University of Toronto, Employment Equity Annual Report 2010, University of Toronto, Employment Equity Annual Report 2017 University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine 2018; Mentorship and Resources:

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Mr. Alexander Gomes for his help in preparation of this manuscript, and many colleagues and students within the University of Toronto for lending their support to this project. Special thanks to Dr. Tomislav Svaboda for developing mathematical model to predict future composition of visible minorities faculties at the university. I would also like to thank many colleagues and friends in the community, for their encouragement and helping hand.

i Dear Colleagues,

I have one major concern, which I thought would surface at our retreat or search

committees but it did not. I know all of us are committed to the principles of social justice, equity and racial diversity. However, in our search process unless we become sensitive to racial


diversity, this department will become "colourless" when Prof. John Hsieh leaves us in June 2003. At this time, at least half the population of the City of Toronto will be peoples of colour. Professor Harvey Skinner had on his door a statement, which said something to the effect that silence is not always golden and for the sake of social justice, we must break silence. I hope you will all forgive me for breaking the silence. Since the merger of the department, I have learned a lot from my colleagues in social sciences about equity and justice and how systemic barriers can prevent access to services and jobs. Two decades ago, universities across the land, recognizing those barriers against women academics, focused their search in such a way that now we are fortunate to have many more women as our colleagues and superiors. Also I learned the true meaning of the word empowerment from you. I realized that my program of Visiting Lectureship on Native Health was doing just that. In this program instead of inviting non-aboriginal academics experts we were inviting aboriginal speakers to tell their stories. This was a process of power with or power to aboriginal knowledge base than power over them. If we truly believe that publicly funded institutions like ours should reflect the society we live in and that we are really committed to the diversity and social justice, then we must seize this window of opportunity to act. Advocacy must begin at home and we should walk our talk. Once these search processes are finished, we will have colleagues who will be hopefully with us for the next 15-25 years. This proactive step will also help the Department in future to recruit bright and young students from different racial groups, better its relationship with its alumnae and raising the fund from community and alumnae. I have been told that there are number of individuals at the university level who are adept at working on this problem and will be able to help our Department to remove systemic barriers


and improve our advertising and hiring procedures. I am also told that the Department of Sociology & Equity Studies at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), which aspire social justice and diversity, has been successful in hiring persons of colour. I hope we collectively chart a course of which we all could be proud. If you feel this issue deserves attention, please write to our Chair and, if you wish, I shall be happy to receive a copy of your email. Thank you for your kind attention. C.P. Shah

ii “At the last meeting of the Governing Council I spoke of my convictions that we must ask ourselves what steps we can take to respond more fully to the changing cultural, racial and

linguistic diversity of Toronto and our Province. The community around us has changed faster than we have changed ourselves. It remains clear to me that we have some catching up to do.� -President J. Robert S. Prichard Bulletin, January 7, 1991


“The university should establish a policy that encourages prospective faculty members from

visible minorities to apply, and that gives them a fair chance of being selected. This would involve: Broadening the curriculum to encompass subjects of interest to a wide range of people; Making search committees accountable for advertising positions in such a way that qualified members of minorities are located and encouraged to apply; Making search committees aware that qualified candidates of all ethnic backgrounds must be given fair consideration; the disposition of candidates from ethnic minorities should be reported for all appointments; If


candidates are equal academically, the candidate from a minority background and/or a woman should be given a bonus on the hiring grid.”

iv University of Toronto Bulletin Headline from January 10th, 2000

“While reaffirmation of policies on employment equity is needed, we must make sure there is accountability from those who are required to implement policies. There should be a statement from the administration on: goals and timetable for hiring visible minority faculty; mechanisms for their advancement; mechanisms of accountability of the actions of administrators, principals, deans and chairs to achieve these goals and timetables; and, an additional resource devoted to achieving these policy objectives. The whole process should be transparent.” Toronto Star Headline from January 10th, 2014

“A publicly funded institution ought to be socially responsive, Shah said, and he hopes his work will get people talking about the issue” Toronto Sun Headline from January 11th 2000 “The University should select the best possible person, but ensure that visible minorities have a good shot at being that person”




December 11, 2000

Dear Dr. Birgeneau: Re: Proactive Recruitment in Senior Administration We, the undersigned, have some concerns about the composition of the Senior Administrative team and would like to forward the following suggestions: There is a paucity of visible minorities at the senior level of administration. These senior administrators are entrusted with the implementation of the Governing Council policies and are also leaders in their own right to develop progressive policies, which will see us through the twenty first century. The University is in the process of replacing a large number of senior


administrators. There is now a unique opportunity for the President to have his team with a new vision and mission. Recommendation 1: We recommend that the future Senior Administrative Staff include members of visible minorities. All search committees for the senior administration should be mandated to carry out proactive searches. Candidates for senior administrative positions should be asked about how they would address the issue of diversity at the University of Toronto and whether they have had past experience with this issue. In response to a query from Professor Shah about the establishment of an Advisory Council on Ethno-racial Diversity, you recently wrote that you would not take any action on that until the searches for senior administrators are over and until you had a chance to review the existing senior equity advisory portfolios. Recommendation 2: The President should announce, by the beginning of the 2001-2002 academic year, the establishment of an Advisory Council/Group on Ethno-racial issues, which would address the ethno-racial issues raised by all the constituencies of the University community. We hope to hear from you. Wishing you and your staff Happy Holidays! C. P. Shah On behalf of Equity Seeking Faculty Group cc. Prof. Adel Sedra Prof. Rona Abramovic Ms. Wendy Cecil-Cockwell, Chair, Governing Council Members of the Governing Council


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Advocating for Change: Visible Minorities at the University of Toronto  

We are pleased to announce that the August submission in Directions comes from Dr. Chandrakant Shah, Professor Emeritus of the Dalla Lana Sc...

Advocating for Change: Visible Minorities at the University of Toronto  

We are pleased to announce that the August submission in Directions comes from Dr. Chandrakant Shah, Professor Emeritus of the Dalla Lana Sc...

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