Background and Recommendations
In late March of 2021, the Board appointed an EDI Taskforce led by incoming Board Chair Ian Joseph that, having met throughout the fall and winter of 2020 and ‘21, made a series of recommendations, which build upon the (mostly completed) five-year (2017 to 2022) planning recommendations of The Shaw’s previous 2016/17 EDI Taskforce.
Primary among these was the creation of a role within The Shaw mandated to serve as a senior, independent Inclusion and Wellness Facilitator who could act as an advisor and a key intermediary for communication and resolution among all Company members, and working alongside Human Resources, create a truly supportive and respectful workplace.
Throughout the spring, we developed a framework for this position and, in July 2021, implemented the role by hiring Khan Bouba-Dalambaye, a clinical psychologist, EDI consultant and professor of psychology with whom we had worked extensively since early 2020. With that expertise in place, the process started moving ahead more quickly.
The 2021 Taskforce has made these new recommendations for implementation by the end of 2022 (assuming a more normative year in 2022) including the continuation of a successor committee in 2021 that will help on a continuous basis to examine and inform The Shaw on areas relating to inclusion, respect, accessibility and equitable practices. This new successor committee will also help ensure that the current list of recommendations and the topics left for future examination are addressed within the 2022 timeline.
Beyond the creation of the new position and the creation of a successor committee, the recommendations included, but were not limited to, the following items:
- That The Shaw make clearer a statement of its values and commitments to cultivation and support of the organization as an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture that nurtures and supports everyone working here. This new statement is realized as the Values Statement above and ties into our Programming Statement as well
- That meaningful engagement on the reasoning and intent of The Shaw’s work in these areas be made clear to every department at The Shaw through individual meetings with leadership and through town halls and assemblies and to the public through our website and through onsite activities and outreach
- That workshops, trainings and facilitated discussions become regularly available to staff, volunteers, and our wider community to help foster ever improving understanding and learning toward needed changes.
- That the new EDI committee be equitably created to include representation from staff, board members and artists from a wider cross section of departments and identities and that it meets multiple times per year and reports back on its progress.
- That more cross-departmental interaction and engagement are necessary and helpful in creating understanding of issues, difficulties and the disparate needs and concerns facing each area in order that everyone has greater empathy for their fellow workers and the burdens each person might face.
- That management continue to explore ways with the committee, the Guild, and the town to incentivize or create more opportunities for wider diversification of the workforce, especially as new positions become available. This is particularly important to continue due to the homogenous nature of the local area and the difficulties involved with inter-community transportation, the lack of resources available within a small rural town and lack of resources available to persons of colour or marginalized communities within the Niagara region generally compared to larger urban centres.
- That social media programs be augmented to include more initiatives that support community dialogue and proactively discuss issues of interest to The Shaw’s communities and workforce.
- That specific suggestions for ensuring best practices when working across cultural or identity divisions be created over the coming year in consultation with each department and adhered to by all members of the department and that the Shaw Guild, in conjunction with its IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity in Action) Team do likewise.
Additional departmentally specific ideas, as well as suggestions for new Onboarding/Orientation and simplified HR policies and programs, will also be developed over the coming months.
Inset photo: Khan Bouba-Dalambaye.