aerial photo of the campus in the fall season

VIU Diversity Identity Census FAQ

One of VIU’s core values as identified in the People Plan is diversity: we value human diversity in all its dimensions and are committed to achieving and ensuring learning and working environments that are equitable, diverse and inclusive.

All employees are asked to voluntarily provide diversity data to ensure VIU has an accurate picture of who is employed. This is necessary to understand whether there are any potential biases or systemic barriers within VIU’s policies and processes and where changes may be needed to increase the diversity of job applicants and employees.

Your information will help us determine where we are now so we can set realistic equity, diversity and inclusion goals and measure our progress. In turn, we’re able to create plans and strategies that improve the work experience of VIU employees.

During this first phase of implementation of the employee diversity identity census, the data will not be used to guide employment decisions. The census is launched to help build an understanding of who our employees are and create a baseline for further comparison.

The four designated groups (FDGs) as identified by the Employment Equity Act due to their underrepresentation in the Canadian labour force are women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and racialized peoples. VIU recognizes that groups other than those in the Employment Equity Act have historically met barriers in the workplace that limit their full and active participation, such as persons who identify as belonging to a minority gender identity and/or sexual orientation group. VIU considers all of the above groups as equity-deserving groups.

There is ample evidence of discrimination and systemic barriers that limit the participation of women, racialized people, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons who identify as belonging to a minority gender identity and/or sexual orientation group in the Canadian workforce.

Collecting data on these groups does not mean the university is only concerned about improving the work experience for these employees. In fact, research shows that making the workplace more diverse, equitable and inclusive for these groups benefits all employees.

How you identify is personal and the choices provided may not fit with how you see yourself as an individual. As imperfect as it might be to group people in this way, we cannot assess our equity, diversity and inclusion progress without doing so. It's important to note that we are not asking you to consider yourself part of these groups for any other purpose or to label yourself with this terminology.

We are asking you to consider whether you identify as part of these groups to help the university understand the diversity of its employees. The data will help us track our progress toward reflecting the diversity of our students and community across the university.

Please self-identify in all groups that apply to you.

Yes. It is important for all employees to complete the census so VIU has an accurate picture of who is employed.

If you do not feel comfortable self-identifying, you have the option to choose “Prefer not to answer” for each question.

No. Your responses are collected on your profile in our human resources information system.  You can update or make any changes to your information as needed by logging in to Unit4 and clicking on “Personnel Information” under the “Your Employment” section.  Choose the “Employee Self-Serve” tab on the screen that comes up.

Simply click in each box and tap your keyboard spacebar. The list of values will come up and you can click on your choice. Press tab on your keyboard and save your choices by clicking on the save button at the bottom of the screen. If none of the values apply to you, you can type your response in the text box labeled “Other”.

Access to the data collected in the Diversity Identity Census is strictly limited to select employees in, or designated agents of the Human Resources Office, and to select Information Technology employees for maintenance and troubleshooting purposes. These individuals are required to keep this information confidential. Self-identification information is not part of your employment record and will not be accessible to managers or other employees. Your responses are only accessible to a few individuals whose job it is to produce diversity reports for recruitment, retention, and strategic planning purposes. Your self-identification information will be combined with the self-identification information of others and reported out at a group level so that you cannot be identified.

VIU collects, uses, discloses and retains personal information only in compliance with the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). VIU collects the personal information on this form pursuant to section 26 (c) and (e) of FIPPA.

No, your responses collected are confidential but not anonymous.

The data will be used to set equity, diversity and inclusion goals; develop action plans; and report on progress. It will also be used to inform strategies for improving the employment experience and climate for employees, particularly those from equity-seeking groups.

No, your responses will not result in someone contacting you about accommodation needs in your job. If you require accommodation, please advise your manager or Human Resources Advisor.

Submitting the Diversity Identity Census is voluntary. Your employment with VIU will not be impacted regardless of whether or not you complete the survey.

Employment Equity is an approach designed to ensure that all job applicants and employees have a fair chance in the workplace. It is achieved when no person is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to their skills, knowledge and experience. Employment equity also aims to correct historic disadvantage in employment experienced by equity-deserving groups.

The ultimate objective of Employment Equity is full participation in employment of all designated groups according to their availability in the work force.

No. VIU's commitment to employment equity does not mean the university will hire or promote unqualified people. The goal of selection is always to find the candidate who best meets the criteria specific to that position. Where knowledge, skills and abilities are equal, and one candidate is also a member of a traditionally under-represented group (identified as being a member of one or more of the 5 most basic diversity dimensions), we would additionally consider that individual’s ability to contribute to our goal of addressing historic under-representation, as an additional asset they brought to the job competition.

No. Employment Equity works to remove barriers faced by all employees. It provides opportunity to equally qualified candidates who have been denied opportunities in the past for reasons other than their skills, knowledge and experience.

The goal of VIU’s Employment Equity approach is a discrimination-free workplace where all employees and job applicants receive equitable hiring, training and promotion opportunities. We believe all employees will be able to work and grow best in a welcoming, inclusive workplace.

The term ‘systemic barriers’ refers to situations, policies and/or practices, which unfairly exclude members of the designated groups from taking part in the workplace. These “barriers” are varied and can include, but are not limited to, the following:

sexism, racism or prejudices which manifest in the workplace

physical barriers which prevent people with disabilities from accessing or participating fully in the workplace

lack of access to education or training

lack of accommodation of family responsibilities (caregivers of young children or elderly parents)

career interruption if when, for health, family or other reasons, a candidate is out of the workforce for an extended period of time (e.g., pregnancy, early childcare, eldercare, illness, etc.) which can impact access to hiring, training and/or promotion opportunities

"chilly climate": environment which has the effect of excluding or undermining a person or a group of people in a working environment

lack of awareness of cross-cultural issues (particularly in communications)

Systemic discrimination occurs when groups of people are excluded from the workplace for reasons not related to job requirements. It results from entrenched policies or practices that are part of the normal operation of employment systems which unintentionally discriminate. Often hidden, systemic discrimination has an adverse effect on equity-deserving groups.

For questions about the Diversity Identity Census, please contact the Human Resources Department. For questions about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at VIU, you can contact the Human Resources Department or the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Office. For questions about the collection, use and/or disclosure of your personal information, please contact the Privacy Officer.