What does meaningful anti-racism action look like?

As a global call for decisive action against the discrimination of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) continues to unfold, Sheridan is taking bold steps to acknowledge and address systemic racism.

We are a community of educators, learners, researchers and leaders. As such, Sheridan recognizes that we are all accountable for addressing and preventing racism, racial inequality and injustice in our communities, on our campuses and in our classrooms. By integrating equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as key priorities within our Strategic Plan, Sheridan has made a clear commitment to ensuring EDI plays a guiding role in everything from our business operations, to our physical and virtual classroom environments, to the services and resources that support our community members.

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Garrick, President, Sheridan Black Students Association.

“Furthering equity, diversity and inclusion is a shared responsibility,” says Dr. Jane Ngobia, Sheridan’s Vice President, Inclusive Communities. “We will continue to embrace the rich diversity of Sheridan’s community to foster a strong sense of connection and demonstrate respect for people’s rights to belong and have equal access to opportunity.”

We heard our community’s call for a much-needed conversation about anti-Black racism and provided a safe space for these vital discussions through several virtual roundtables. The first, held in the wake of George Floyd’s death in June 2020, was attended by more than 300 participants. These conversations highlighted important areas for further action at Sheridan.

In August 2020, we launched new mandatory employee training in unconscious bias, anti-oppression and anti-racism. These modules are now part of the required suite of training for all new employees.

We created opportunities for Black students and underrepresented members of our community. As part of our membership in the Black North Initiative, Sheridan launched the new Sheridan Black North Initiative Bursary to help full-time Black students offset the costs of their Sheridan education. During fall 2020, approximately $366,000 was distributed to 513 Black students as part of this new bursary.

To nurture a diverse employee community where all employees feel valued and engaged, we’re disrupting our traditional hiring and employment practices. We have committed to hiring six professors who self-identify as Black or Indigenous in the Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design over the next two academic years. One of these recruitments is completed and the second is well underway. We completed our first Employee Diversity Self-Identification Census in Spring 2020, and a comprehensive Employment Systems Review is currently underway.

In December, we joined Industry Canada’s 50-30 challenge which calls on organizations to diversify their boards and senior management positions to achieve gender parity – or 50% representation – and to attain significant representation – 30% – of other underrepresented groups, including racialized persons, people living with disabilities, and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Sheridan has reached these targets on both the President and Vice Presidents Committee (PVP), and the Board of Governors.

We launched the Reimagine Learning and Education in our Communities Challenge to reach and amplify underrepresented voices, spark inclusive dialogue, and embrace – not hide from – the forces of disruption prevalent in industry and society, and cultivate meaningful solutions.