Listening, Learning and Taking Informed Anti-Racism Action

Posted: June 24, 2020

Publié le 24 June 2020

Like many, we have spent recent weeks watching, reading about and discussing the protests across the globe against racialized violence and systemic discrimination. We have heard the calls for sustained and substantial action to defeat these injustices. We have seen the many messages of support and commitment by others and we have witnessed with cautious, then enthusiastic, optimism as the anti-racism movement has swelled to gain international momentum.

With this optimism came the conviction that we need to add our voice to the movement, to demonstrate our support for Black, Indigenous and people of colour  (BIPOC) communities. 

But we also need to own the limits of our actions to date and to acknowledge that no message, no matter how sincere and well-meaning, will contribute to actual, palpable change if it is not partnered with action.  

We know that we have work to do

The roots of systemic racism run deep and require continuous effort to combat. As an organization that exercises considerable authority and influence over others, our structures and processes can contribute to the entrenchment of systemic racism that exists in Ontario if they are not developed thoughtfully and wielded carefully. We embrace the challenge of re-evaluating how we see our role as a regulator that is part of a larger community responsible for shaping the practice of dietetics in Ontario.

 As part of this, we are committed to questioning whether our focus has been enough to truly drive change. We will scrutinize how we do things at the College to better understand the impacts of systemic discrimination in our organization. We have felt encouraged by the openness and willingness of dietitians and members of the public who have reached out to have difficult conversations with us about how we can do better to support diversity and inclusion. We welcome these conversations.

What have we been doing and what are we planning to do next

The College regulates dietitians in the interest of public protection. As part of that mandate, we have published numerous articles about cultural competence and safety and their importance to client-centered values in dietetic practice. The College’s practice advisors have conducted workshops for dietitians and students about the importance of cultural competence, client-centered care, and ethics and professionalism. The recently revised Code of Ethics specifically sets out expectations for culturally safe and competent care, as an important element of racial justice. But policies are not enough and representation matters. We know the profession of dietetics is not reflective of the diversity of the province and we have work to do to understand why this is and what should be done about it. To start, we will be reviewing our data collection practices to ensure they are supportive of change efforts – good change starts with good data.

The College’s public information program informs Ontarians about their rights against discriminatory practice and about our complaints process that can be used, when needed, to ensure dietitians are engaged in inclusive practice. This is an important aspect of our public protection mandate. Our next step is to hold focus groups to ensure our public messages reach communities seeking equity in Ontario.

We have discussed equity, diversity, and inclusion in relation to our practices, programs, and policies to identify what we can do better. In partnership with other organizations, we have developed and delivered an education session on identifying and tackling individual and systemic biases, stereotypes and assumptions that can impact regulatory decision-making. College staff have received training about understanding cultural differences applicable to our regulatory work. We have reduced barriers to registration in our assessment processes of internationally-educated applicants. And while our staff team is racially diverse, we know that ensuring we are inclusive is still a work in progress.

But there is still so much to do

While we will do our own homework, we will also reach out to get the help we need. We are exploring ways in which we can hear the voices of racialized communities to learn what needs to be done to foster social justice in dietetic practice and in how we do things as an organization. While we will use surveys and other tools to engage with dietitians and others, we recognize that we cannot solely rely on volunteerism to inform our work. We acknowledge that our BIPOC colleagues deserve to be paid for their knowledge, and that we need to carry our own weight of the required emotional labour needed for change.

We commit to taking informed action in a way that leads to sustainable and meaningful change in how we carry out our public protection mandate. We do this knowing that it will take time to do well, but that it is also well past time.

Transparency is an important part of accountability. Look for our progress report in 6 months.

Your questions and comments are welcome

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2. Contact the Practice Advisory Service
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