April 12, 2024

New UCalgary operating standard prioritizes equity, diversity and inclusion

EDI Data Operating Standard guides respectful data collection
An orange visual stating EDI Data Operating Standard

The University of Calgary has a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Data Operating Standard developed by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and University Legal Services. The development of this standard was led by Dr. Malinda Smith, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (equity, diversity and inclusion) with the goal of enhancing trust, confidence, security and safety when UCalgary members share personal information during institutional EDI data collection.

The purpose of this institutional EDI Data Operating Standard is to set a high standard and a process that is transparent, clear and consistent for the institutional collection, use and disclosure of EDI data. EDI data encompasses human rights and demographic data of members of the campus population, including data related to members of equity-deserving groups (women, Indigenous Peoples, racialized minority persons, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ2S+ persons).

Smith underscores the importance of EDI data, noting that “EDI data is needed to understand the composition of our campus community, the varied experiences, including the lived experiences of members, to identify and transform systemic barriers to inclusion, to inform the design and evaluation of programs, supports and services, to track progress in achieving results, and to ensure institutional accountability.”

EDI data is also collected and used for the purposes of accreditation, program evaluation, quality improvements, reporting and to inform university-wide, and faculty and unit-level EDI initiatives.

UCalgary is a diverse community which makes for an enriching learning, working and living environment. However, to advance an evidence-based approach to equity, inclusion and accessibility, data collection is needed to understand representation, identify and transform implicit biases and systemic barriers to meaningful inclusion, as well as to better understand the challenges and opportunities faced by diverse members of the campus community. It’s essential to ensure that the university is handling EDI data in alignment with human rights and privacy best practices. That’s where the EDI Data Operating Standards can provide structured guidance.

The standard is intended to ensure that such data is being collected, used, and disseminated under the appropriate delegated authority while upholding privacy standards and respecting the sensitive nature of this information. 

The standard requires all institutional EDI data initiatives to meet certain requirements, including consistency in definitions, ensuring surveys intended to be anonymous do not contain indirect identifiers, articulation of data security measures, and compliance with the university’s Privacy Policy and institutional Survey Guidelines. The standard also creates an EDI Data Review Group who will review all institutional EDI data initiatives for compliance with the standard.

The EDI Data Review Group will be co-chaired by Smith and Pamela Hinman, associate general counsel (commercial, employment, privacy) from University Legal Services, and will include representatives from relevant units across UCalgary including Human Resources, Office of Institutional Analysis, Office of the Registrar, Research Services, and Information Technology. The full list of representatives can be found here.

The establishment of the EDI Data Review Group underscores the university’s commitment to robust governance and accountability in an increasingly complex landscape.

As UCalgary continues on its equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) journey, the EDI Data Operating Standard is a proactive step forward. Smith also speaks to how developing this operating standard stems from an institutional commitment to advancing EDI and accessibility, and ensuring the community is equipped with the tools to do so.

Smith emphasizes the need for heightened awareness and literacy about EDI data, given the complexity of EDI and accessibility-related issues, UCalgary’s commitment to evidence-based decision-making, and the growing demand for disaggregated data, and GBA+ and intersectional analysis. 

“This operating standard is being shared at a critical time,” says Smith. “There is a growing demand across our campus community to collect EDI and human rights-based data. This operating standard provides the necessary institutional guidelines and processes to ensure it is done right. We want to build trust with our community, follow best practices, and be accountable.”

Review the EDI Data Operating Standard and important steps for submissions.

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.