Recognized as one of Hamilton-Niagara's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 25, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why McMaster University was selected as one of Hamilton-Niagara's Top Employers (2021):
- As an educator, McMaster University encourages ongoing employee development with generous tuition subsidies (to $3,573 annually) for courses taken at McMaster as well as other institutions -- the school also offers a generous academic scholarship program for children of employees who are interested in pursuing post-secondary studies (up to $4,650 per child)
- Along with supporting new families with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (varying by employee group), McMaster University helps employees balance their work and personal lives with a variety of alternative work options where possible and up to five paid personal days
- McMaster University recently expanded mental health benefits for faculty and staff, increasing annual benefits coverage to $3,000 for services from registered psychologists, social workers and psychotherapists
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why McMaster University was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
- McMaster University launched an employment equity facilitator program to support all hiring processes, act as process consultants and ensure equitable outcomes -- currently, the organization employs 75 facilitators who serve or consult on various search committees
- McMaster University maintains a President's Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community, which features a number of different working groups that address various dimensions of inclusion on campus issues relating to race, First Nations, Métis and Inuit priorities, accessibility, gender and sexuality, to name a few
- McMaster University's Employee Accessibility Network functions as a support network, providing a safe space for employees with disabilities, and acts as a consultative group, collaborating with various campus partners -- in the past year, the network provided feedback on the university's equity, diversity and inclusion framework and contributed to the creation of Accessibility Initiatives, a framework to complement McMaster's current AODA compliance plan
Diversity work continues to flourish at McMaster
COVID-19 has prompted thoughtful planning about the future of teaching and learning at Hamilton’s McMaster University, says chief human resources officer Wanda McKenna, but the pandemic hasn’t diminished in the least McMaster’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“We have a breadth of programs and activities that together are helping us to advance equity and diversity across the organization,” says McKenna. “This work has become a lot more thoughtful over the past three years.”
In 2019, McMaster unveiled an equity, diversity and inclusion strategy. Arig al Shaibah, associate vice-president, equity and inclusion, oversees the office dedicated to implementing the strategy. “We’re making good progress,” says al Shaibah. “We have launched a number of initiatives to raise awareness and build capacity for faculty, staff and students around issues of diversity, equity and anti-racism.”
Al Shaibah’s office, in conjunction with human resources colleagues, has trained 120 employment equity facilitators drawn from staff and faculty across the university. The role of facilitators, broadly speaking, is to advance employment equity within their departments or faculties. They also serve in an advisory capacity when it comes to recruitment and hiring.
Andrea Colbert-DeGeit, executive officer to the dean of the Faculty of Engineering, is one of several employment equity facilitators within the faculty. She is currently serving on three faculty search committees. One of the objectives, in a traditionally male-dominated field, is to achieve better gender balance.
“As we move through the process, from all applicants to long lists to short lists, we ensure that representation has been maintained,” says Colbert-DeGeit. “If we begin to lose representation of equity-seeking groups within the pool of applicants at any stage of a recruitment, then we take another look.”
The university has also initiated a biennial census of its employees under the equity, diversity and inclusion strategy. The census allows the administration to take the measure of its workforce in relation to representation of Indigenous Peoples, racialized persons and persons with disabilities, as well as gender and LGBTQ+ identity. The results are posted on the university website. The administration also holds employment equity forums to discuss the results.
Al Shaibah’s office organizes workshops for staff and faculty on a variety of topical issues – human rights fundamentals, challenging Islamophobia, anti-racism, accessibility and the duty to accommodate, positive space and microaggressions. She says her office experienced a surge of interest in training on anti-Black racism after the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
“We had lots of requests from people wanting to know how they can make individual and systemic structural change,” she says.
The pandemic put the brakes on almost all in-person activity whether it was classroom instruction or anti-racism workshops. It also prompted a shift in direction. McKenna says her department has organized 60 different webinars to keep staff and faculty apprised of developments.
Last spring, McMaster donated thousands of unused masks, goggles and protective suits to frontline healthcare workers.
Meantime, more than a dozen teams of scientists have conducted research aimed at understanding the virus and developing tools to combat it. An equal number were focused on the long-terms effects and looking for ways to minimize the collateral damage to economies and societal health.
For its part, the administration is focused on what happens post-pandemic. “A number of different working groups are thinking about the experience of working remotely,” says McKenna. “Now we’re shifting to what we are going to do next September. What is the future of work?”