Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at BCcampus
During this year of high-velocity change, we made sure to stop and look at our people and practices to examine our ability to actively employ equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in our workspace. We can’t help others improve EDI in their institutions until we’ve learned how to do it for ourselves. We’re still in the early stages of our development, but we’re moving forward and documenting what we’re doing to help others as they start their journey into EDI.
“There is no endpoint for equity, diversity, and inclusion work, nor for other avenues of inclusion, such as decolonization or universal design for learning. They’re all aspects and perspectives that must become part of the fabric of the post-secondary system.”
Executive Director, BCcampus
In mid-2020 we engaged Cicely Blain Consulting to complete an EDI audit. The report they delivered shows that while BCcampus is EDI-aware in some areas, there is still much room for improvement. Unconscious biases, such as heteronormativity and cisnormativity, manifested in the report as they did in other areas. The report revealed that we are routinely, in our words and actions, creating an environment that is not as inclusive as it could be.
“Our mandate at BCcampus is to ensure students throughout the province are successful in their learnings. We know that the majority of leadership positions across the post-secondary institutions of B.C. are held by cisgender people, primarily of white, European, colonial descent. Some much-needed diversity in leadership would bring more representation across faculty, staff, and students, enabling us to meet the needs of people across the province.”
Director of Open Education, BCcampus
Drawing from learnings revealed through our EDI audit, we examined ourselves and our processes to create opportunities to welcome diversity into our team. One approach we’ve already adopted was to update our hiring practices by using language that is more inclusive. We cannot fix the way things were, but we can make changes today to lead us to a more inclusive tomorrow.
Specific changes you will see in future job postings:
- Land acknowledgment
- Removal of credentials and more focus on shared knowledge and experience
- Inclusion of the EDI definitions as defined by BCcampus
- Inclusion of a paragraph on what it’s like to work at BCcampus
- Inclusion of salary range
BCcampus’ Commitment to Inclusion
From the workplace to our learning spaces, we value diversity and are actively working to decolonize our organization and the ways we collaborate with others. We believe that a more diverse team will help us better support the individuals and communities we work with. Our definitions for this work are as follows:
Equity is the absence of barriers that exclude people with non-dominant or marginalized lived experiences, perspectives, and identities. We recognize that everyone is not starting from the same place and that there is a need for intentional interventions to allow people who experience exclusion to be present and contribute.
Diversity is the presence of people in a group with a variety of lived experiences, perspectives, and identities that may include (but are not limited to) race, ethnicity, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political beliefs, religion, marital status, family status, ability, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, and class and/or socioeconomic status. We recognize that these categories are not fixed or independent of each other. They are fluid and can intersect in all sorts of ways. We respect an individual’s right to self-identification and affirm that no one way of being is intrinsically superior to another.
Inclusion is the practice of creating and sustaining environments and communities in which everyone feels welcomed, valued, respected, and empowered to participate fully and authentically in ways that work for them.
Process Changes to Support EDI
Recognizing that inclusivity can be demonstrated through diverse imagery, we’re striving to use photos and graphics that represent all people, so everyone can feel that they belong at BCcampus and throughout the province.
Another way we are building EDI into our daily operations is by creating a multicultural calendar to mark the significant events that are important to the people we work with. The project isn’t about celebrating new holidays; it’s about recognizing that the people we work with have different beliefs, and we should help them feel comfortable with what they choose to celebrate.
We will also be improving our About Us page to include name pronunciations, similar to what LinkedIn announced last summer. And the Fall BCcampus Book Club will have a focus on anti-racism.
Choosing to Be Inclusive
The Pulling Together: Foundations Guide has been an inspiration for educators across the province, leading to well-attended webinars hosted by BCcampus about the guide, as well as its inclusion in the Law Society of British Columbia’s Bar admission course. For instructors seeking opportunities to improve EDI in their classrooms, as well as in their world, the guides are an excellent place to start.
We will continue to review our processes, language, positioning, and approaches to incorporate opportunities to improve, recognizing that EDI is not a process to follow: it’s a way of life that brings value to everyone.
Fall Indigenous Series — Pulling Together
To advance reconciliation and to create space for Indigenous peoples in our institutions as learners, colleagues, and community members, we explored our respective roles and how we gather our knowledge and bring that wealth home to our community through a six-part series in October and November. The series helped participants improve their understanding from a traditional Indigenous perspective, that every season has work to be done, with encouragement to consider how we fit our post-secondary education, policies, and protocols into the seasons to best reflect Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.
The series invited participants to discover actions we can take in our work in post-secondary institutions, starting with self-learning. Read a recap of the Pulling Together series, with graphic recordings from Michelle Buchholz.
“Marlene and Jewell [the facilitators of the Pulling Together series] emphasized that the journey toward equity requires collaboration. It involves Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples coming together with reciprocal respect and humility, picking up the paddle and embarking as a collective on a journey of learning together. It involves recognizing the truth of our histories and recognizing the responsibility each of us have to make things right.”
“It’s serious business, educating the next generation of people who are going to shape and mould the society we live in. The elders have a saying: ‘You have two ears and one mouth,’ so listen twice as much as you speak. Look for the truth. Do the hard work. Do the self-reflection. A lot of this work about academics and the academy is in your head, but if we’re really going to make a more inclusive academy, you have to close the gap between your head and your heart, because those lead to your hands.”
Executive director of Indigenous initiatives and partnerships at the British Columbia Institute of Technology
Truth, Reconciliation, and Decolonization Framework for BCcampus
BCcampus is committed to learning the truth, taking actions leading to reconciliation and decolonization. We are actively recruiting Indigenous colleagues and collaborators in all areas of our organization, and we are working with an Indigenization Framework to guide us. Where possible, we will also create invitations for our post-secondary partners to advance their journey with Indigenization and decolonization. For BCcampus to be successful in this commitment, we need to be strategic in where we put our efforts and resources. To this end, we encourage BCcampus folks to continue to look for opportunities to learn and take action.