On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women and girls everywhere and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring an intentionally inclusive and equitable community. The strength and resilience of women paves the way towards justice and equality, but we still have a long way to go.
Women continue to face barriers with respect to participation and achieving their full potential, including discrimination, sexism, transphobia, misogyny and harassment, but not all women experience the same obstacles. Indigenous and Black women, as well as racialized women and trans women, face particular and disproportionate challenges in the workplace.
Gender parity, diversity, and inclusion are not just women’s and HR issues. They are economic, political, and societal issues that impact everyone. We thrive when we make concerted efforts to champion these values and encourage all women to become change leaders. Women in leadership bring a diverse set of perspectives that help solve today’s increasingly complex problems and drive innovation, outcomes that underpin the fundamental purpose of any academic institution.
Although we have made progress, women still hold far fewer executive leadership positions than men at in private and public industries in Canada, and internationally, and fewer still are women from racialized backgrounds. Strengthening our culture of intentional inclusion at all levels will require more than increasing the number of women in the workplace. We must ensure women have the opportunities and tools they need to get ahead, and feel supported in taking risks and speaking up.
Creating an inclusive space that celebrates, supports, and engages women is a shared responsibility. The University of Toronto’s Organizational Development and Learning Centre (ODLC) and the Talent Management Unit help empower our institution by investing in its community and attracting diverse and exceptional talent. Our tri-campus Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office, Family Care Office, Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre, and other equity offices also advocate for women’s issues and provide support, services and education on gender-based discrimination and its intersectional manifestations to our community.
The University of Toronto is committed to eliminating barriers to women’s full participation in University life. Reflecting this diversity in our community requires intentional inclusion of women whose intersectional identities remind us that there is more work to be done. Diversity is a critical component to excellence; if all women do not reach their full potential, then we do not reach ours.
I invite the University community to join me in celebrating this important day and to stand in solidarity with women worldwide. We all have a role to play in building a community where all members are empowered to be bold in their pursuits. Together we will only move forward when no one is left behind.