‘Diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act’: U of T hosts second annual Angela Hildyard Leadership & Equity Symposium

Professor Njoki Wane, Chair of the Department of Social Justice Education and event speaker, in conversation with Angela Hildyard, U of T’s former Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity

Professor Njoki Wane, Chair of the Department of Social Justice Education and event speaker, in conversation with Angela Hildyard, U of T’s former Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity.

May 23, 2019

More than 170 senior leaders from across the University of Toronto gathered for a special event at the Rotman School of Management on May 13 to learn more about how they can advance equity, diversity and inclusion in their respective areas.

Professor Sarah Kaplan, Director of the Institute for Gender & the Economy at the Rotman School of Management, served as this year's event emcee.

Professor Sarah Kaplan, Director of the Institute for Gender & the Economy at the Rotman School of Management, served as this year’s event emcee.

The second annual Angela Hildyard Leadership Symposium, emceed by Distinguished Professor Sarah Kaplan, Director of the Institute for Gender & the Economy at Rotman, included welcome remarks from Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat, U of T’s Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, and featured three speakers in the field: Njoki Wane, Zabeen Hirji, and Faye Mishna. One by one, they took to the stage to share their extensive experiences and insights about inclusive leadership as a key to success, diverse leadership pedagogies, and a case study on embedding equity and diversity within a division at U of T.

“Building an intentionally inclusive community begins with leadership. Leaders model and set direction—they shape the environment where equity and excellence thrive or is stifled,” said Hannah-Moffat in her opening address. “By pursuing deliberate efforts to ensure that our University is a place where differences are welcomed and every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion, we can create cultural and attitudinal changes that will allow our institution to flourish.”

Zabeen Hirji, Global Advisor, Future of Work, for Deloitte spoke on the topic of "Inclusive Leadership is Key to Success in the Future of Work."

Zabeen Hirji, Global Advisor, Future of Work, for Deloitte spoke on the topic of “Inclusive Leadership is Key to Success in the Future of Work.”

Hannah-Moffat’s sentiments were further expanded through Hirji’s talk. The Global Advisor, Future of Work at Deloitte and former Chief Human Resources Officer for the Royal Bank of Canada, shared ideas, research results and examples from her decades of work in diversity leadership.

“The concepts of diversity and inclusion are often used interchangeably—and they shouldn’t be. Diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act,” said Hirji, who is also a member of U of T’s Governing Council. “Organizations need to define and create a shared understanding of inclusion, as opposed to leaving it to personal interpretation. Only when organizations are clear about this objective, can they turn their attention to the drivers of inclusion, take action and measure results.”

For Nathan Doidge, Chief Administrative Officer for the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, the event helped to expand his understanding of how diversity and inclusion could be further applied through his leadership role to impact change in his area.

“I had previously thought that equity and diversity was a function of hiring—that if you get the right people, the rest will happen naturally,” said Doidge. “I learned a few new things, particularly, about inclusion. I’ll now ask myself what I can do as a leader to make sure that everybody gets invited to participate wholly.”

Some attendees also felt that the symposium served as an important opportunity to look inwards and examine their current ways of thinking.

“Coming to this event was an important commitment to myself to get reenergized and educated on this topic,” said Marg Lacy, Senior Manager of Academic Advising & Career Centre at U of T Scarborough. “One of the topics that struck a chord with me was to be aware of my own biases. The other item was to be a champion voice for others in terms of creating opportunities to speak up at meetings, to bring their voice and their perspective to the table.”

The notion of self-growth and the importance of enhancing the U of T experience for everyone through inclusive leadership also resonated strongly with another attendee.

“This was a great opportunity to do some self-reflecting and gain some insight into leadership development for myself and my team,” said Estelle Oliva-Fisher, Interim Director of Student Housing & Residence Life at U of T Scarborough. “One of things I’ll be doing more of is having courageous conversations that empower and foster more opportunities for our colleagues.”

The Angela Hildyard Leadership Fund was created by the University of Toronto in 2016 to recognize the former Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity for her significant contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion at U of T during her 15 years of service in the leadership role. The fund supports this annual event focusing on leadership and equity, and invites the University’s established and emerging senior leaders to gain new knowledge and inspiration to implement institutional improvements in their respective areas.

Browse the event’s photo album