by Lee Easton (2022-04-14)
Launching MRFA 2025: Building an Inclusive, Equitable and Diverse Association
On Friday March 25, I was delighted to help launch MRFA 2025: Building an Inclusive, Equitable and Diverse Association with the Association’ first in-person and remote social event held in the Faculty Center. The MRFA 2025 Working Group organized this celebration to mark an important moment in the Association’s history as it embarks on a transformative journey that will make the MRFA the inclusive welcoming place we have aspired to be. That said, there might yet be some questions about the plan’s genesis, its contents, and the path ahead.
Where did the plan originate?
The MRFA Executive Board has engaged with issues around equity and diversity for some years. However, the Association’s 2020 Statement on Racism provided an impetus to engage more fully with those issues. The Executive Board, therefore, committed to review the Association’s By-laws, policies and procedures to ensure they were as inclusive as possible and did not foster discrimination. The Equity Review Taskforce took on that task but as the review progressed, the taskforce members saw that the Association required a more fundamental cultural change, one that demanded a clear action-oriented plan. With that goal in mind, the Executive Board struck the MRFA 2025 Working Group, who created an initial draft, which the Executive Board approved in principle in June 2021.
What does the plan do?
MRFA 2025 has five major goals or interventions that will transform our Association over the next 4 years. The Plan outlines concrete strategies and specific actions with implementation timelines. The Executive Board will report to membership annually on its implementation. For those who have reservations about the Plan, I point out that making our Association more inclusive brings benefits to all. Our commitment to hybrid meeting formats to make Association business easier to conduct wherever we are located is one example of how thinking inclusively benefits all. I encourage you to read the Plan in its entirety. If you have questions, you can read our FAQ page where you can offer comments or request more information.
We can see the visible changes that have already come as the Board has pursued the vision of MRFA 2025. A sampling: last year we increased the number of MRFA Scholarships adding four aimed at students from equity deserving groups including one for Indigenous students to augment the four directed at students in each faculty. We have installed an automatic door in the Faculty Center to accommodate members with mobility challenges (or whose hands are full!). Moreover, we have diversified the menu in the new MRFA Bistro to offer more choices to meet a range of dietary needs. Next year, we will review the Association’s mission, visions and goals. It has been over a decade since we undertook such a process. The review will be an opportunity to embed our commitment to equity and diversity into our organizational structure.
MRFA 2025 is undoubtedly an ambitious plan, which will require concerted effort to achieve. However, I am excited to take on this needed work and I am eager to see how we will together make the Association a truly welcoming organization for all its members.