diversity initiative awareness 2016 Pride eventMembers of the recently formed UHN LGBT+ Committee wore UHN scrubs when they participated in 2016 Pride events around Toronto. (L to R) Simon Lysnes and UHN Wellness coordinator Kevin Majchrzak ran in the 2016 Pride and Remembrance Run. (Photo: Zoomphoto.ca)


Diversity is a core value at UHN. As a network of hospitals situated in the highly diverse city of Toronto, UHN's staff and patients represent a wide variety of heritages, generations, abilities, gender expressions, beliefs and faiths.

At UHN, Human Resources' Diversity and Mediation Services works to promote this diversity through education and awareness, resolving issues, and evolving practices to promote inclusion.

A recently renewed focus of Diversity and Mediation Services is the creation of diversity committees throughout the organization. The department is encouraging employees to come forward and build committees to create a safe space for employees to engage in meaningful dialogue about shared experiences.

"The idea behind this committee building is to have UHN communities working together to create inclusion," explains Jacqueline Silvera, Senior Manager, Diversity and Mediation Services.

"The committees are representative of self-organizing and committed employees who want to give more of a voice to certain communities."


Committee development at UHN

In the past year, two committees were formed.

The recent employee committee to be formed is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Transitioning, Inquiring, Intersex, Questioning, Queer, Two Spirit and Ally, also called the UHN LGBT+ committee. Members of the LGBT+ committee wore UHN scrubs when they participated in Toronto's Annual Pride run and Pride Parade.

In 2015, the UHN Black History Month (BHM) committee was formed, with some of the members of this committee involved in BHM events as early as 2006.

Diversity and Mediation Services are currently exploring the formation of an Aboriginal and Indigenous committee focused on ensuring that the perspectives of the community are meaningfully included in UHN's service delivery.

"Like diversity, inclusion means something different to each of us. It is about ensuring that our diversity is valued, supported and that we are able to achieve our full individual potential," says Jacqueline.

Another aspect of diversity and inclusion that Diversity and Mediation Services dedicates time to is ensuring the availability of various forms of resources and supports, as outlined by the UHN Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability (AODA) Committee.

"This type of work around UHN could not be achieved without the cooperation and partnerships of a multitude of our departments," says Jacqueline.


Diversity initiatives for staff influences patient care

Jacqueline also adds that creating diversity committees amongst employees is an initiative that she anticipates will improve patient care as well.

"These committees promote a diversity initiative that increases diversity awareness and cultural competence training, all of which influences and improves the way we care for patients," explains Jacqueline.

"We work to promote a shared understanding of experiences without shaming and most of all take time to understand the incredible power of connecting our diversity."  

If you are interested in joining, supporting or suggesting a committee through Human Resources' Diversity and Mediation Services, please contact: dianavon.appen@uhn.ca or Jacqueline.silvera@uhn.ca


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