Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

14 August 2020

The Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
in the University of Alberta’s Department of Chemistry


The worldwide Black Lives Matter protests and the recent online publication of an opinion piece in a premiere chemistry journal are stark reminders of how far we still need to go in our efforts to create a just and inclusive environment in our discipline and in the world.

Our incredibly diverse body of students and early career researchers is our strongest asset. The Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta believes strongly that improving EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) at all levels is of critical importance. While there is ample evidence that diversity improves science and creativity, that is not the basis of our support. We support it because it is a matter of equality and justice. Our commitment as an educational institution is to provide a safe, equitable, and inclusive environment for all of our members: high school volunteers; undergraduate students; graduate students; postdoctoral researchers; technicians, administrative and technical staff; and faculty members.

As part of our commitment to these beliefs, the Department will implement a number of initiatives aimed at increasing EDI and fostering an environment that supports all of our members including those traditionally underrepresented in the field of chemistry such as Women, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, + (LGBTQ2SIA+), Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, as well as those with visible or invisible disabilities, chronic illness, mental illness, and neurodivergence. While in development for some time and agreed upon as part of the EDI plan attached to the Canada Excellence Research Chair position, we are using these recent events as catalysts to expedite their introduction. We recognize that addressing systemic racism and discrimination is an evolving, ongoing challenge. These initiatives will evolve and be augmented by additional measures. These include the following:

  1. Ensure that a minimum of one third of all seminar speakers invited to the Department represent underrepresented groups and provide Department of Chemistry funding for speakers who identify as underrepresented.
  2. Require that all researchers, staff, and faculty of the Department complete unconscious bias training and provide to the Chair a certificate of completion.
  3. Continue the Department’s commitment to diverse hiring procedures to ensure that at least half of those interviewing for positions are representative of the four designated groups defined in the Employment Equity Act, as well as other underrepresented groups. Require a written Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement as part of the application for Faculty positions.
  4. Promote the use of gender neutral pronouns in correspondence and welcome the use of personal pronouns.
  5. Provide departmental funding for parental leave for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers not supported by existing (e.g., Tri-Council) programs.
  6. Expect groups to select group event times that are sensitive to those with families (i.e., during business hours) and/or religious constraints.
  7. Create, support, and mandate learning opportunities including seminars, workshops, outreach activities, and resources to be delivered within the Department that address systemic inequities in order to raise awareness as to how these factors can lead to biases in hiring, selection, appointment, promotion, grading, and departmental and campus culture.
  8. Introduce mandatory EDI training for new graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to be implemented during their first year.
  9. Highlight successes by underrepresented Department members in both scientific and EDI work, and increase advocacy for their professional advancement — for example, through the encouragement of nominations to awards and fellowships.
  10. Evaluate departmental policies and practices to identify barriers and behaviours that impact the accessibility of participation in scholarship, research, and social activities.
  11. On July 1, 2020, an EDI committee was established in the Department that will prioritize the above initiatives, ensure that action is being taken and progress is being made, and work with Department members to expand on the commitment outlined herein.

As a Department, we have a crucial responsibility to welcome and support anyone who wishes to contribute to our activities in education, research, and service. Failing to address the inequities present within our institution undermines these goals. This statement affirms our commitment as a community to actively confront these systemic and profoundly harmful biases in service to our field and a more just world.

Authors include The EDI Committee: Steve Bergens (Interim Chair), Keshwaree Babooram (Faculty Lecturer), Jocelyn Sinclair (Graduate Student), Ania Sergeenko (Postdoctoral Researcher), Yoojin Choi (Undergraduate Student), Julianne Gibbs (Faculty), Sheref Mansy (Faculty).

As well as: Rik Tykwinski (Chair), Mike Serpe (Faculty), Lara Mahal (Faculty), Todd Lowary (Faculty).

Supported by: Yoram Apelblat (Faculty Service Officer), Guy Bernard, Alex Brown (Faculty), Jillian Buriak (Faculty), Christopher Cairo (Faculty), Robert E. Campbell (Faculty), Jason Cooke (Lab Coordinator), Ratmir Derda (Faculty), Michael Ferguson (Faculty Service Officer), Tina Grant (Faculty Lecturer), Dennis Hall (Faculty), James Harynuk (Faculty), Wolfgang Jaeger (Faculty), Anna Jordan (Thesis Editor in Residence), Robert Jordan (Emeritus), Al Kalantar (Retired), Matthew Kingston (Support Staff), Mariusz Klobukowski (Faculty), George Kotovych (Emeritus), Gareth Lambkin (Scientific Services Staff), Liang Li (Faculty), Charles Lucy (Emeritus), Rylan Lundgren (Faculty), Matthew Macauley (Faculty), Arthur Mar (Faculty), Maria Matlinska (Grad student), Christie McDermott (Assistant Chair, Student Services), Mark McDermott (Faculty), Ryan McKay (Faculty Service Officer), Vladimir Michaelis (Faculty), Laura Pham (Assistant Chair), Reza Poopari (Lab Coordinator), Negin Razavilar (PDF), Eric Rivard (Faculty), Jeffrey M. Stryker (Faculty), Sarah A. Styler (Faculty), Jonathan Veinot (Faculty), Hayley Wan (Faculty Service Officer), Fred West (Faculty), Randy Whittal (Faculty Service Officer), Florence Williams (Faculty), Yunjie Xu (Faculty), Ran Zhao (Faculty)