Western Equity Census

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Western Equity Census Report CoverWestern Equity Census Report

March 2022

Western's first Equity Census report represents data provided by students, staff and faculty between October 2021 and March 2022. While the census is still ongoing, this report shares a snapshot of the data captured during this period.

Download PDF Report (PDF 8MB)

Download Text-only Report (PDF 82KB)

 Throughout the consultation process for Western’s new strategic plan, Towards Western at 150, our community expressed a collective aspiration to build a more inclusive culture for students, faculty, staff, and graduates.

Western’s new plan sets out our vision to embed practices and processes related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization, and to cultivate a sense of belonging that supports the safety and well-being of all members of the university community.

Building on the recommendations of the Anti-Racism Working Group Report of 2020, the plan renews our commitment to confront racism and all other forms of discrimination.

To set the future direction of Western’s EDI strategy, however, we must create an accurate picture of where we are and identify where we need to go moving forward.

Beginning in October of 2021, the University is launching the Western Equity Census, our first-ever comprehensive demographic survey for all staff, students, and faculty, which will help us to understand the demographics of the university and enhance the diversity and equity of our community.

To set the future direction of Western’s EDI strategy…we must create an accurate picture of where we are and identify where we need to go moving forward.

Your voice counts and we want to hear from you.

The Western Equity Census provides an opportunity for our community to help create a vibrant, inclusive environment.

The Census, which is voluntary and confidential, is available to complete through My Human Resources (for employees) and Student Centre (for students).

A diverse EDI-D Data Working Group established through the recommendation of the President’s Anti-Racism Report and they are proceeding with a spirit of optimism that we can achieve a high response rate to build institutional capacity and develop best practices for EDI strategies.

Your support is critical and very much appreciated.

~ EDI-D Working Group




How do I complete the census?

The Census, which is voluntary and confidential, is available to complete through My Human Resources (for employees) and Student Centre (for students).

Why is Western doing this equity census?

An important commitment in the University’s new strategic plan is increasing the representation of equity-deserving groups at Western. 

And in so doing, we must create an equal sense of belonging, safety, and opportunity to participate and contribute for all community members. 

An essential requirement for Western to fulfill its commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization (EDI-D) involves the responsible collection and analysis of personal information and data that accurately reflect the demographic make-up of our campus community.  

Western has developed a draft policy that aims to ensure the approach to EDI-D demographic data collection and use is culturally safe, ethical, purposeful, useful, transparent, and accountable to the campus community.   

It also aims to help Western monitor and respond to EDI-D trends and issues, and to help the University report publicly on its progress towards EDI-D goals.  
And it aims to protect the privacy and rights of the individuals from whom data is collected in accordance with the principles of Indigenous data sovereignty, Ontario Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism, University policy and agreements, and provincial and federal legislation. 

How will you protect my data if I choose to participate?

Protecting the confidentiality of individuals’ personal information is our top priority.

The axiom “nothing about us, without us,” will drive this work. We must recognize that the active engagement of equity-deserving groups is critical in the development and implementation of EDI-D initiatives, including EDI-D data governance policy, collection, and analysis.

Who is doing this work? How can I trust that this will be done in a professional manner?

Western’s EDI-D Data Working Group has been consulting with and drawing on the expertise of appropriate offices and groups at Western to inform culturally appropriate data collection and analysis strategies. 

  • Campus Council 
  • EDI Advisory Council  
  • EDI Student Action Network 
  • Employment Equity Committee
  • Human Resources Information Systems 
  • Indigenous Faculty Advisory Council 
  • Indigenous Student Centre 
  • Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council 
  • Office of Human Rights 
  • Office of Indigenous Initiatives 
  • Office of the AVP (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) 
  • Office of the Registrar 
  • Research Ethics 
  • Residence Admissions, Housing 
  • SGPS & Associate Deans of Graduate Studies 
  • Society of Graduate Students  
  • Student Accessibility Services 
  • University Legal Counsel 
  • University Students' Council
  • Wellness & Well-being, Student Experience 
  • Western Communications 
  • Western Information Systems Group 
  • Western Technology Services - Cyber Security 

The group is creating data collection and analysis strategies with specific equity-deserving groups in mind, and avoiding the grouping of equity-deserving groups together, being mindful of the unique needs and identity of distinct groups.

And finally, the group is taking an intersectional approach to data collection and analysis, recognizing that a person’s identity has multiple dimensions. 

What will be done with my data? Will it be safe?

In developing the strategy for this work, data ownership was a key consideration. The Working group knows it is critical to respect that decisions about sharing personal information are a matter of the owner’s personal choice.

Western’s approach is one rooted in integrity and transparency. The Census is being developed by seeking permission from individuals to collect only that personal demographic information which is helpful to advancing our community’s EDI-D goals.

The University will also only use demographic information in the ways described at the time the data is collected; any proposed change in use of personal information will require clear and complete communication with the owners and must include the individual owner’s consent to such use.

Western will collect personal information using methods that are accessible and culturally appropriate for the question(s) under study. This may include, but is not limited to, surveys (e.g., paper or online), private interviews, sharing circles, or group meetings.

How will you respect my privacy?

Respecting each individual’s right to privacy and protecting the security of personal demographic information collected under the draft policy are of paramount importance.

Access to identifiable data will be limited strictly to authorized University staff responsible for EDI-D policy and initiatives. Appropriate IT security measures (technical and procedural) will be taken to control and protect access to the information.

Only aggregated data (grouped data) will be used for numerical reporting. Where appropriate, small data sets will either be suppressed or consolidated into larger samples or data sets to ensure confidentiality.  

Safeguard systems and security protocols for EDI-D data will be audited regularly by an external party independent from the university.

To review a copy of the “Letter of Information” that is embedded in the census prior to requesting your consent to participate, you can do so here.

Do I have to participate?

Individual community members (data owners) will be asked for their consent to provide personal demographic information. Consent means the data owners (that’s you!) can choose to share their data. The census is voluntary.

Community members have the right to refuse to participate. And even if you consent, that consent can be withdrawn if the owner’s personal decisions change (except where the results of aggregate data analysis have already been made public).

How will my data be used?

Data collected under this policy will be analyzed and used exclusively for the purpose of advancing Western’s EDI-D goals. This excludes purposes related to academic research, but may entail support for more specific administrative initiatives related to: 

  • workforce analysis & reporting;
  • employee recruitment, promotion, tenure & retention;
  • student recruitment, performance evaluation, retention & graduation;
  • educational programming & curriculum development;
  • quality assurance & improvement (i.e., initiatives to establish, evaluate, or enhance standards for administrative processes and university services);
  • institutional planning & budgeting.

Who is leading this work?

Western has established a diverse working group to lead this initiative.

Are Student Center and MyHR safe tools to collect and store this information?

Collection of EDI Census Data on Student Center and MyHR

  • Student Center and My HR are secure, online applications where Western student, faculty and staff can view and update information related to their academic and employment relationship. 
  • Access to EDI data is restricted to only individuals accountable for reporting
  • MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) is required to access My Human Resources. MFA adds another layer of security, by combining something you know (your password) with something you have (your phone or hardware token) to verify your identity.

When will the data be shared?

Initially, we had planned to release the basic equity census data in January 2022; however, since the initial plan, it has been decided that a robust analysis of the data will now be included in the preliminary report.

As a result, this report is anticipated to be completed before the end of May.

In the Spring of 2022, smaller group reporting will begin, starting with Faculties/Divisions and Departments.

How do I Access Census Data?

A Census Data Request Form is available for only: Associate Vice President/ Associate Vice Provost or Deans to request. This form will be emailed out to the respective individual, once an email request comes in to the census email. This form enables faculties and departments within the Western community to request Western Equity Census data in an aggregated form pertaining to their Unit. To preserve anonymity, only aggregate data is released, and data elements with 15 data points or higher, else excluded. . 

Reporting Disclaimer: This data reflects point in time information for the purpose requested. The report is current as of the requested date and it is subject to change.

This data will only be provided in aggregate form, identifying values with a minimum of 15 data points or greater. This data is not to be used for Academic Research.

This data requested through the Western Equity Census Data Request Form cannot be for official budgeting or planning purposes. Official planning/budgeting data is disseminated through Institutional Planning and Budgeting.

Western’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion office and partnered units reserve the right to reject report requests that are not culturally safe, ethical, purposeful, useful, and transparent.



EDI-D Working Group Members

Current Members:

  • Aarti Vyas, Project Coordinator, EDI-D Demographic Data   
  • Christy Bressette Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives)   
  • Erin Huner Director, Culture and Inclusion, Ivey
  • Maharus Noorani, Communications Specialist
  • Joshua Lambier: PhD Student – EDI Communications (former)
  • Lisa Highgate, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism  
  • Nancy Stewart, Executive Director and Senior Advisor to the President  
  • Opiyo Oloya, Associate Vice-President (EDI)  
  • Terri Tomchick-Condon Senior Consultant, Human Rights Services  
  • Terry McQuaid, Director, Wellness & Well-being  

Past members:

  • Candace Brunette Debassige, Special Advisor to the Provost (Indigenous Initiatives)  
  • Mubasshira Khalid, Masters Student – EDI Data Analyst
  • Matthew Dawkins, Undergraduate Student – EDI Research and Content Support
  • Nicole Kaniki, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism




Western is committed to keeping people as informed and up-to-date as possible about this important project.  Individuals with further questions can contact:

Email:  equitycensus@uwo.ca