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U of T Employment Equity Report: 2019 data shows modest improvement in Black representation

Though Black, Indigenous communities still experience very low participation
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FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY
FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

On February 3, the University of Toronto officially released its Report on Employment Equity, which was based on data collected in 2019. The report provides important insights into the composition of the university’s faculty, librarians, and staff, reflecting data on employees’ gender identities, sexual orientations, Indigenous status, disabilities, racialization status, and ethno-cultural identities.

The report pays particular attention to the Black and Indigenous population employed by U of T to inform special initiatives targeted at those sections of the community.

Now in its third year of publication since the survey was overhauled in 2016, the report divides the survey results into two sections: “appointed staff” and “appointed faculty and librarians.” Furthermore, the report includes new changes that take a closer look at facets of employment such as recruitment, promotions, and retention.

By employing data visualization techniques, the report presents its data through an intersectional framework, locating the various identities that make up the employment body across the campuses.

A year in the making

The report’s responses were primarily collected through U of T’s Employment Equity Survey: an optional, anonymous questionnaire open to all University of Toronto employees, including appointed and non-appointed staff. It differentiated between three categories of employees: faculty, librarians, and staff.

Data collection took place from January 1 to December 31, 2019, combining responses from the Employment Equity Survey with relevant applicant information from the university’s own application tracking system. The 2019 survey received an 87.1 per cent response rate, which marked the highest number of responses since 2016 and a nine percentage point increase from the number of responses in 2018. 

The inaugural Employment Equity Survey launched on July 1, 2016, and was created to allow the university to critically assess the diversity of its workforce, relative to the composition of the overall Canadian workforce. 

Improvements made, yet to be made

The report highlighted important demographic insights about Black employees. Most notably, it showed that the proportion of staff respondents who self-identified as Black increased from six per cent in 2018 to 6.7 per cent in 2019. The proportion of Black faculty sat at 2.9 per cent in 2019, while the proportion of Black librarians was too small to be reported. This is an increase from 2018, when the combined proportion of Black faculty and librarians comprised two per cent.

When surveying for Indigenous staff, only one per cent of respondents identified accordingly, consistent with the proportion of respondents in the previous year. Faculty demographics saw a slight increase in Indigenous proportion, with 1.1 per cent of faculty respondents identifying as such compared to one per cent of faculty and librarians in 2018. The proportion of Indigenous-identifying librarians was also too small to be reported. The report does not distinguish between Métis, Inuit, and different First Nations groups.

Despite the progress made, the proportion of Black and Indigenous employees remains amongst the lowest demographics of employees at U of T. When considering all employees — faculty, librarians, and staff alike — Black individuals represented 5.5 per cent of respondents, and Indigenous individuals represented 1.1 per cent of respondents.

It is worth noting that the proportions of continuing faculty — including those in tenured and teaching streams — were approximately just as diverse as the faculty in contractually limited term appointments and part-time positions. The report demonstrated that nearly 43 per cent of continuing faculty hired in 2019 self-identified as racialized.

An intersectional lens

Of staff identifying as Black, approximately 73.1 per cent self-identified as women, while only 27.5 per cent identified as men. For Black faculty, these proportions were 62.9 per cent and 35.5 per cent, respectively. Of staff identifying as Indigenous, 58.9 per cent identified as women and 39.3 per cent identified as men. For Indigenous faculty, these proportions were 60.0 per cent and 32.0 per cent, respectively.

The report also used an LGBTQ+ lens to analyze overlapping identities amongst different racial and ethnic groups. Among all respondents, 9.4 per cent of respondents identified as “LGBQ2S+,” while 0.7 per cent identified as “trans.” Regarding gender identity, individuals were only categorized as “men,” “women,” or “trans” — the latter category explicitly including transgender men and women alongside non-binary and genderqueer people.

The proportion of respondents who identified with the LGBTQ+ community varied by racialized and ethnic group. Among Black staff, 5.2 per cent of respondents identified as “LGBQ2S+,” while 1.2 per cent identified as “trans.” “LGBQ2S+” people were more strongly represented among Black faculty at 22.6 per cent, while too few faculty identified as “trans” to be reported. Among Indigenous staff, 23.5 per cent of respondents identified as “LGBQ2S+,” while 5.4 per cent identified as “trans.” Among Indigenous faculty, these statistics are 28 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.

The report also took note of the intersection between the Black and Indigenous communities, with 6.5 per cent of Black faculty also identifying as Indigenous, corresponding with the 16 per cent of Indigenous faculty also identifying as Black. People at this intersection did not respond sufficiently to be represented among staff.

Next steps

In an email to The Varsity, a U of T Media Relations spokesperson outlined the importance of this report in informing policy change at the institutional level. “Together with our annual Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Report, the Employment Equity Report shows our commitment to and progress in attracting and retaining diverse talent,” they wrote. “The report illustrates our commitment to creating an inclusive and accessible workplace, while highlighting where progress is still needed.”

When asked about the impact of this report in the long term, they added that it will “[help] us to better understand and support our community. It also informs and assists in the shaping of our institutional strategies, including [human resources] practices and processes to ensure that we are being intentionally inclusive.”

Moreover, the report highlighted improvements from the year before. This included the fact that the proportion of staff who self-identify as racialized persons or persons of colour increased this year. Although there is clearly room for improvement, this year’s Employment Equity Report is a step forward in identifying the various demographics that exist and operate at the university.