Combatting anti-Black racism
September 9, 2020
Dear Rotman community,
As you all know, anti-Black racism has been brought into the spotlight over the spring and summer by a number of events, including the killing of George Floyd in late May, the shooting of Jacob Blake just weeks ago, and the differential impact of COVID-19 on the Black community and communities of colour. Protests calling for greater racial justice have gained unprecedented momentum. At Rotman, we have expressed our solidarity with the ongoing protests against systemic anti-Black racism and discrimination. We have also been in conversation with Rotman students across programs—including representatives of the Graduate Business Council, the Rotman African and Caribbean Business Club, and the newly formed Anti-Black Racism Committee—to hear about their experiences and to formulate a robust institutional action plan for meaningful positive change at Rotman.
Since June, I have been working together with Rotman’s Executive Leadership Team, our Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, our graduate program directors, and our student leaders to take stock of what we have done at Rotman in the past and what we must do going forward to address issues of systemic racism and under representation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized persons among our students, faculty, and staff. The Area Coordinators have also met with student leaders to hear their concerns and to consider ways they can support faculty in their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.
Throughout the consultation process, I have been incredibly impressed by the thoughtful, well-researched, actionable proposals brought forward by students. Building on these consultations, we are announcing today a multi-faceted commitment, cutting across all programs and all academic areas, that we believe will achieve meaningful progress on these issues.
The key components of our plan are:
- Introduce / increase anti-racism interventions
- In collaboration with the Anti-racism and Cultural Diversity Office and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto, accelerate anti-racism and implicit-bias training for our community. We anticipate that by the end of the 2020-21 academic year, all faculty, staff, and students in every Rotman graduate and undergraduate program will have received relevant training.
- Increase range and frequency of training. For example, in the Full-Time MBA program, in addition to anti-racism and ally-ship training during orientation, students will discuss and reflect on issues related to systemic racism and discrimination in the core course, ‘Leading Diverse teams’, and training will continue in additional workshops throughout the program.
- Increase Black & Indigenous representation in course materials & events
- Faculty across all of Rotman’s seven academic areas have committed to increasing representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) protagonists and companies based in Africa and the Caribbean in course materials; plans are in the works for a ‘virtual library’ of relevant cases and experiential exercises for faculty to draw on in course design.
- Institute diversity thresholds and representation targets for Rotman-sponsored events; we will collect data and report on progress.
- Increase representation of Black & Indigenous students in Rotman programs
- Create a new outreach event (Black Future Business Leaders Conference, planned for Spring 2021) aimed at encouraging Black undergraduate students to consider MBA enrollment; additionally, new financial support is being offered for Full-Time MBA students coming from Africa or the Caribbean.
- Increase outreach to BIPOC candidates for Rotman’s PhD program through active participation in The PhD Project; we are also piloting a summer research opportunity program for Black and Indigenous students in Summer 2021.
- Increase Black & Indigenous instructors, role models and mentors
- Reach out broadly through alumni and other networks to Black and Indigenous executives and entrepreneurs interested in engaging with Rotman students in classroom and extra-curricular events; we will appoint at least one new Black or Indigenous Executive-in-Residence or Entrepreneur-in-Residence in 2020-21.
- Set aside funding for new faculty from the Black or Indigenous community, as well as funding for three new post-doc positions.
There is no easy solution to the problems of anti-Black and systemic racism, but this cannot be an excuse for inaction. We believe these new initiatives will make a meaningful difference and will reinforce our existing commitments to foster a diverse and inclusive learning community. We hope you agree that we are on the right track. We welcome feedback from our community as our pursuit of equity and inclusion is a living and ever-evolving pursuit.
Kenneth S. Corts
Marcel Desautels Chair in Entrepreneurship
Professor, Economic Analysis and Policy
Rotman School of Management