March 23, 2022

UCalgary to host first NextGen EDI Data Symposium April 8 and 11

Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion hosts international event
UCalgary to host first NextGen EDI Data Symposium in April
Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Equity, diversity, inclusion data (EDI data) — individually and in tandem — are important to institutional goal of advancing EDI vision, mandate, policies and strategies. But what are EDI data or, put differently, what makes data ‘EDI data’ rather than some other kind of data such as population demographic data or even diversity data? Should we refer to EDI data in the singular or plural, differentiate inclusion data and accessibility data? 

Next month, the University of Calgary will inaugurate an international symposium to explore the meaning, significance and role of EDI data in systemic change. The conference will explore key issues in EDI data issues, including EDI data literacy, standards, analytics, visualizations, and technology — in establishing evidence-based initiatives, policies, and practices, in establishing gaps and smart goals, objectives and targets to make EDI a reality. 

The online NextGen EDI Data Symposium, set for April 8 and 11, will feature more than two dozen internationally renowned speakers from the post-secondary sector, the federal research funding agencies, Statistics Canada, and international institutions from across Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and the EU. The event is spearheaded and hosted by UCalgary’s vice-provost and associate vice-president research (equity, diversity and inclusion) Dr. Malinda Smith, PhD. UCalgary embraces change and opportunities and inspires and supports discovery, creativity and innovation across all disciplines and fields of inquiry, she says. 

This symposium is taking place in the context of an ongoing global pandemic that has aggravated pre-existing inequities and created new ones. The disproportionate impacts on already-marginalized communities have renewed calls for disaggregated data on race, age, disability, gender and sexual orientation, as well as across institutions and systems, including police, health, education, employment and income.

The two-day event is also taking place in the context of local and global demands for measurable progress from initiatives designed to create more equitable and inclusive institutions, workplaces and communities. All these pursuits require disaggregated data, as well as evidence-based policies and practices informed by measurement, transparency, storytelling, monitoring and accountability.

There is a long-recognized need for EDI data. In 1985, the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment recommended that employers collect disaggregated EDI data in order to measure the success of employment equity programming, and recommended data be collected to gauge the workforce participation of Indigenous Peoples, women, visible minority persons, and persons with disabilities. Although LGBTQ2S+ are not explicitly listed as a federally designated equity group they are widely recognized as one, including in the Dimensions EDI Charter and pilot. 

The Employment Equity Act and the Federal Contractors Program recognize the importance of data in assessing the degree of under-representation and to establish benchmarks and to create short-, medium- and long-term goals and targets to close those gaps. Qualitative and quantitative EDI data have become important for identifying inequities in the research ecosystem, in teaching and learning, and for better understanding and improving the student and post-doctoral experiences. 

“While there have been recommendations and calls for disaggregated data for several decades, today there is greater understanding, and a national consensus is emerging on the importance of such data. Institutions want to identify barriers and obstacles, and to close existing diversity gaps, which require collecting quantitative and qualitative data on representation, admissions and employment, climate, community engagement, and the like,” says Smith.

It is exciting that we get to showcase how EDI data can help us achieve more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible institutions on the international stage.

Among the questions panellists will explore

• What do we mean by EDI data, and why and how do they matter?
• Why do we need disaggregated EDI data?
• What are the similar and different indicators of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the workplace?
• What data are needed to advance EDI in research, teaching and learning? 
• What are best practices for EDI data collection, privacy, confidentiality and security?
• What are the best sources of EDI data in Canada and internationally?
• What are the latest technological innovations in EDI data dissemination?

Event details

April 8, 2022 
8:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. (MT) – Online

April 11, 2022 
8:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. (MT) – Online

Register for the NextGen EDI Data Symposium.

EDI Data Hub implemented

The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has also launched the EDI Data Hub.

To make meaningful change to achieve an equitable, diverse and inclusive university, key demographic data must be collected, and efforts to identify and close the diversity gaps must be tracked. The UCalgary EDI Dashboard has been created through a partnership between the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Analysis.

This partnership was established because high-quality data can help us reveal the gap between the Canadian population and the student body, faculty, staff and university leadership. Data can also help institutions like ours avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to EDI measures as it tracks and validates when policies and procedures are making a measurable difference.

The information within our EDI Dashboard represents a solid beginning. As we further refine and develop the dashboard, we will expand its data-tracking abilities and dive further into the demographics within UCalgary to help guide our EDI work.

The University of Calgary is committed to being an equitable, diverse and inclusive university. It recognizes that diverse faculty, staff, students and alumni benefit and enrich the work, teaching, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and broader community. We are committed to removing barriers that have been, and continue to be, encountered by equity-seeking groups, particularly women, Indigenous Peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ2S+. Learn more about the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.