Steps toward a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive culture at MRU

By Milena Radzikowska, MRFA Diversity and Equity Officer (2022-04-14)

Organizational culture impacts every part of our work and many other aspects of our lives while, simultaneously, being difficult to name or identify (The Centre for Community Organizations). A wealth of research shows the many ways discrimination can exacerbate stress, how it’s linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and its resulting impacts on relationships, career success, and overall health (American Psychological Association Report, 2016). By acknowledging the existence and impacts of systemic racism as well as signing the Scarborough Charter and hiring into a new position of Associate VP of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, MRU appears to be taking some steps towards changing our institutional culture. 

Through the MRFA 2025 Plan, our Association is making visible, and accountable, its strategies for fundamentally changing our culture. But, while many organizations (including MRU and the MRFA) now appear to be interested in EDI through writing plans, signing documents, or creating policies, I remember the many incidents of discrimination, racism, and workplace violence that have been shared with me by our colleagues over the past twenty years I’ve been here. 

I also reflect on Dr. Kalwant Bhopal’s talk at the University of Calgary in February 2022, where she listed a number of career progression traps/barriers common for academics from equity-deserving groups:

  • Career “hits the buffers’.
  • Prospects limited and promotion ‘an illusion’
  • Lack of transparency – ‘nebulous’ criteria/’network of knowns’
  • Different criteria introduced/’hyper-surveillance’
  • Work on race, ethnicity, seen as a deficit.
  • Lack of recognition of research/publications outside the ‘Anglo. American’ world.

Each one of these traps—as well as many more—are alive and well at MRU. And, while organizational commitments, clear policies, and a robust Collective Agreement are valuable, they can only become powerful tools in removing discrimination, oppression, or violence when paralleled with substantial efforts at cultural change and personal development.

It is important to recognize the great steps forward that were achieved in the recent round of collective bargaining where the newly created Joint Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been given a clear mandate to no longer keep hidden the incidents and actions that are in contradiction to the organizational culture we aspire to create.  

MRU offers many EDI resources to enable our culture to transform. Check out any of the links below to learn more about what we are doing, to see how you can be involved, or to seek guidance and support if the need arises.  


MRU Joint Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Dr. Kalwant Bhopal is a Professor of Education and Social Justice and the Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) at the University of Birmingham.

Check-out White Supremacy Culture in Organizations