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Our commitment to targeted hiring and antiracism: President's letter

Jun 25, 2020

SOURCE: McMaster Daily News 

University Hall 

Dear Members of the McMaster community,

Over the past few weeks our campus community has been challenged to urgently address persistent systemic institutional racism and to address barriers to equity and inclusion. We have heard a clear call for concrete and demonstrable action. The University has expressed its commitment to addressing these issues in a variety of statements, and now is the time for actions that will support those words.

McMaster’s newly launched Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy and 2019-2022 Action Plan establishes a wide-range of initiatives intended to challenge anti-Black racism, and to support Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour at McMaster. The recently released annual report of the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC) also provides a range of positive recommendations for change. In response, the University administration is prioritizing and accelerating several initiatives to advance the EDI Action Plan as quickly as possible.

We must address the underrepresentation of Black faculty members and advance inclusive excellence in teaching and research across all academic programs. There is strong support across all six Faculties to recruit more tenured or tenure-track faculty from the African diaspora. McMaster has made a commitment to the strategic, accelerated hiring of a complement of Black faculty members with disciplinary and interdisciplinary strengths, who will advance institutional and Faculty research priorities and contribute to African and African Diaspora Studies.

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped us all better understand the pain that Black communities are facing and the need to find real and concrete ways to correct the systemic racism and racial inequity that exists across our campuses. Our commitment to targeted hiring is a critically important step in doing so.

Further supports and initiatives are being developed and will be launched over the coming months as we advance the EDI Action Plan. Priorities in McMaster’s EDI Action Plan that were mobilized in the past year include:

  • Development of a new faculty recruitment and selection policy, and companion handbook, with embedded EDI and inclusive excellence best practices. These include requirements to review an employment equity gap analysis, a request for applicants’ self-identification information (takes effect July 1, 2020).
    There is also a requirement for Search Committee Chairs to complete a Search Summary Form to track efficacy of search processes and outcomes in recruiting and selecting excellent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour) scholars.
  • Human Resources Services and Institutional Research and Analysis have dedicated resources and hired staff, including hiring and assignment of BIPOC identified staff, to develop and sustain systems and processes to support the implementation of best EDI practices across all faculty searches.
  • Launch of an Employment Equity Facilitator Program that has so far trained over 120 faculty and staff to sit on Search Committees to support the implementation of best EDI practices.
  • Building additional capacity in the Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO), including the hiring of an Anti-Black Racism Education Coordinator and an Indigenous Project Facilitator, to deliver anti-Black, anti-oppression and anti-colonial education and training opportunities.
  • Establishing a BIPOC staff employment resource group to support community-building, as well as facilitate the advancement of career and leadership development.

I encourage everyone to become more familiar with both the EDI Strategy and Action Plan and also to consider the ways that each of us can challenge our own approaches and actions in eliminating systemic racism at the University and in our community.

We will continue to rely on the guidance of the Equity and Inclusion Office, the members of PACBIC and other campus groups, including the African Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster and the Indigenous Education Council, as we work to foster an environment free from harassment, discrimination and violence.

My thanks to everyone who has dedicated their time and energy to helping McMaster better understand anti-Black racism and to focus on actions to move us forward.


David Farrar

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