Advancing Equity and Inclusion

Professor Maydianne Andrade
Professor Maydianne Andrade

Revised: October 6, 2021

What is Unconscious Bias?

“Unconscious bias” (also referred to as “implicit bias”) in academic human resources refers to the influence of implicit or unconscious assumptions in the assessment of candidates and faculty. For some groups (e.g., faculty who self-identify as Black, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, or persons with disabilities, as well as their intersecting identities), systemic or recurring bias contributes to lack of representation, advancement opportunities, and support across all stages of the academic life cycle. Faculty members and committees tasked with making decisions about academic careers or activities can undertake unconscious bias education to more effectively (1) identify, and (2) mitigate instances of unconscious bias in themselves, in others, and in the policies, practices and procedures of their unit.

Resources for Academic Administrators & Faculty Members

The following resources are available to support efforts to diversify the faculty complement and to address the role of unconscious bias in the academic life cycle.

Unconscious Bias Education Modules

The Unconscious Bias Education Modules were created at UTSC in an initiative led by Professor Maydianne Andrade, Department of Biological Sciences at UTSC. It is intended for faculty and staff and provides an academic approach to understanding Unconscious Bias.

Its goals are to:

  • offer an introduction to how Unconscious Biases may manifest any time we assess other people’s performance, potential, or value to the organisation (Module 1: What is Unconscious Bias – available now on SuccessFactors)
  • demonstrate how unconscious bias can lead to unfair assessment in contexts relevant to our work at the University (Module 2: Effects of Unconscious Bias on Assessment – available now on SuccessFactors)
  • provide suggestions on how personal practices, aligned with structural interventions in the form of equitable policies and procedures, can mitigate or forestall these effects. (Modules 3 & 4: available soon)

Understanding Unconscious Bias is an important first step to making structural and personal changes that support equity and inclusion. 

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life recommends that all search, tenure, continuing status review, and promotion committee members, faculty on PTR committees, and assessors review these modules at the outset of their work. Please access these modules through SuccessFactors. Contact unconscious.bias@utoronto.ca if you require assistance.

Inclusive Practices in Recruitment Workshop (aka Unconscious Bias)

The Inclusive Practices in Recruitment workshop is organized by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life and delivered by the Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE) each fall. This workshop is intended for academic leaders, assessors, faculty engaged in academic HR processes (hiring, tenure/continuing status review, promotion), and any faculty interested in learning more about this important topic. This workshop was formerly known as the “Unconscious Bias Workshop”.

The purpose of this workshop is to:

  • offer best practices/suggestions on how to advance equity and inclusion in hiring
  • provide an overview of how bias can affect decision-making
  • suggest strategies for reducing the effect of bias on structural and personal practices

A recording and full transcript of the October 9, 2020 workshop, presented by Professors Maydianne Andrade and Bryan Gaensler (Co-Chairs, Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence), is available to faculty members.

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life recommends that all search, tenure, continuing status review, and promotion committee members, faculty members on PTR committees, and assessors attend an upcoming workshop or watch the recording/review the transcript from the October 9, 2020 workshop. Please contact vpfal.prof.dev@utoronto.ca for information about the next workshop or unconscious.bias@utoronto.ca for access to the recording/transcript.

Strategies for Recruiting an Excellent & Diverse Faculty Complement

Strategies for Recruiting an Excellent & Diverse Faculty Complement is a resource created by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life with input from the Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE). It is intended to provide all faculty members serving on hiring committees with concrete approaches to broadening candidate pools and supporting diversity at each stage of the recruitment and search process for academic positions.

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life recommends that all faculty on search committees review this resource at the outset of their work.

National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD)

Through the University of Toronto’s institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD), all faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows have free access to professional development, training, and a mentoring community designed to help academics to increase research and writing productivity and improve work-life balance. These resources will be of particular relevance to current tenure and teaching stream faculty members.

NCFDD membership offers relevant professional development training, reliable support from highly trained and successful mentors, a confidential “safe space” for problem solving, and a downloadable virtual format so members can learn at their convenience.

How to activate sub-account membership:

  1. Visit www.facultydiversity.org/institutions/utoronto.
  2. Create a username and complete the registration process using your U of T-issued email address.
  3. You’ll receive a welcome email confirming that your account is active and that you can access NCFDD resources.

Contact vpfal.prof.dev@utoronto.ca for questions/more information.

View the NCFDD flyer (PDF).

Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE)

TIDE is an independent group of University of Toronto faculty members who offer training sessions and workshops  to U of T departments, units and affiliates on a wide range of equity and inclusion topics. TIDE also provides input to the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life on issues related to faculty diversity. For more information about TIDE or to request a TIDE session for your unit, please visit the TIDE website. Please note that due to high demand for sessions, 2-3 months advance notice is usually required from the intended workshop date.

Report on Employment Equity

The University produces annually Report on Employment Equity, which describes how faculty, librarians, and staff self-identify with respect to a range of categories. Employees may update their information at any time. Beginning with the 2019 report, there is a chapter specific to faculty and librarians.

Funding for Black and Indigenous Faculty Hires

The Provost recognizes that Black and Indigenous faculty are the most underrepresented groups across the University. Through a University Fund initiative – the Diversity in Academic Hiring Fund – the Provost provides funding to base for Black and Indigenous faculty hires.  Contact your Dean’s Office for more information.

Reports of Interest

Task Forces/Working Groups

  1. Anti-Black Racism Report (2021) (PDF)
  2. Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (January 2017)

Annual Reports

  1. Report on Employment Equity (2020) (PDF)
  2. Faculty & Librarian Complement Breakdown by Sex: 2018-19 & 2019-20 (PDF)

Special Studies

  1. Faculty Gender-Based Salary Equity (2019)
  2. Librarian Gender-Based Salary Equity (2019)

U of T Statement on Equity, Diversity and Excellence (2006)

“Our teaching, scholarship and other activities take place in the context of a highly diverse society. Reflecting this diversity in our own community is uniquely valuable to the University as it contributes to the diversification of ideas and perspectives and thereby enriches our scholarship, teaching and other activities. We will proactively seek to increase diversity among our community members, and it is our aim to have a student body and teaching and administrative staff that mirror the diversity of the pool of potential qualified applicants for those positions….We believe that excellence flourishes in an environment that embraces the broadest range of people.”

U of T Statement on Equity, Diversity and Excellence (2006)