UBC faculty, staff feel less valued for their diversity now than in 2017: survey

UBC’s 2019 Workplace Experience Survey revealed that while faculty and staff feel more satisfied with their jobs, they feel less valued for their diversity than survey results from 2017 show.

The results of the survey, Pulse 2019, were presented to the Board of Governors People, Community and International Committee on September 8. With a response rate of 19 per cent, 75 per cent of faculty and staff respondents said they were satisfied with their role at UBC, a 6 point increase from 2017.

However, only 62 per cent of respondents felt their diversity is valued in their workplace, a 10 per cent drop from 2017. Faculty respondents in particular saw a 17 per cent drop in feeling valued for their diversity and a 10 per cent drop when asked if “people treat each other with respect and consideration in the workplace.”

In April 2019, the Board of Governors approved Focus on People 2025, a strategic human resource framework. The framework consists of four catalysts and is overlooked by a Steering Committee. The Workplace Experience Survey provided some metrics needed in order for the university to progress in areas it falters on the human resource front.

['auto'] Screenshot from Board of Governors presentation

The second year of Focus on People 25 will focus on inclusion, respect, safety, wellbeing, engagement and connection.

Alexandra Bayne, managing director, workplace learning and engagement said the 10 per cent drop of faculty and staff agreeing with the statement “people treat each other with respect and consideration in the workplace” is not a statistically significant drop.

But she added that it is something the team will be paying close attention to given the emphasis the university has placed on respect and inclusion. Baynes said that it will also addressed in the Inclusion Action Plan and she hopes to see an upward trend moving forward.

Bayne defined an inclusive and respectful campus community as “being able to engage in different perspectives in a way that is respectful.”

“We're all entitled to have different opinions but how we engage in that dialogue is what's important,” said Bayne.

Feeling less valued for their diversity

The questions of diversity and respect fall within Catalyst 1 of the framework: “I am part of a diverse, inclusive, safe and vibrant workplace.”

Catalyst 1 planning pledges to support and recruit more racialized folks. Bayne said UBC has programs on leadership, mentorship, and coaching on middle and higher levels of positions. This year, she said there will be tools implemented to screen job descriptions for potential discouraging language in regards to recruitment.

['auto'] Screenshot from Board of Governors presentation

Bayne said that the coaching program can be particularly important in supporting the emotional labour of people of colour as it can provide a confidential space to speak about their experiences.

“[The coaching program] allows a diversity of people who want to get coached to connect with someone that they feel can be there to support them to work through what's going on for them as a leader.”

Additionally, Bayne noted that diversity in university leadership is also essential. As racialized groups still make up a limited number of top positions at UBC, Bayne said they are working with the Equity and Inclusion Office to see how the university can build more diversity at both mid and higher levels.

Bayne said that going forward, UBC will be looking at how they measure engagement, so they are not only looking at data but seeing how it serves the university.

“It's really about what you do with those results, and how you begin to change your practice to respond to them,” she added.