New DEIB Officer seeks staff input to build on and further develop environment where “each person feels welcome and recognized”
Meet Christine Morin, the new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Officer for CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. In her newly-created role, she’ll be reaching out to staff for their input in helping further cultivate a workplace “where everyone feels they can fully contribute with the richness of their identity.”
In an interview with the 360°, Ms. Morin discusses her goals, the importance of employees’ views, and how her own path in life led her to this undertaking.
Tell us about your mandate and role as our CIUSSS’s first DEIB Officer
My mandate is to define, develop and implement a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiative. My role will be to get us to reflect, exchange and bring about change so that, together, we can build a work and learning environment that’s healthy, equitable and inclusive, and where everyone feels they can fully contribute with the richness of their identity.
What are the steps to getting there?
First, to listen and to understand the experiences of employees, physicians, volunteers and students. What do equity, inclusion and belonging mean to them in their everyday work? Do they find their workplace inclusive and equitable? Do they feel they belong to their team and to their organization?
What can staff expect in the short term?
Concretely, an advisory committee will be created in the coming weeks to accompany me as we reflect and plan the next steps.*
Then, we should expect a year of consultations and conversations. What are people experiencing that’s a success? What are they experiencing that’s a challenge, that can be transformed? What are their hopes, their dreams and their priorities, so that they feel included and like they belong?
We’ll do some back-and-forth to make sure we understood what people have said. Afterwards, we can decide about our orientations and priorities.
Some people might wonder if the DEIB process is relevant to them or even applies to them.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, who makes up diversity? The answer is, everybody. We have different layers to our identity. I have my gender, sexual orientation, social class, the village where I grew up, my ethnic origin, beliefs, my family status, my learning abilities, etc. The goal of this initiative is to work on inclusion so that everyone feels valued for what he or she brings to the table. DEIB isn’t only for specific social groups. It’s for living together in the future.
This is a big task: Ours is believed to be the first CIUSSS in Quebec to have a DEIB officer. Tell us about the path that led you here.
I was born in a little village in the Eastern Townships. It had a big centre for people with intellectual disabilities—this was in the days when they were mostly interned—and they would wander around the village. They weren’t violent, they were nice. But people laughed at them and I felt bad. There was a resident of the institution who hugged trees, and people made fun of him. I felt empathy, and was very affected that these people were the object of ridicule, denigration or stigma. But I felt powerless to do anything.
What about your formal training?
I’m trained as a social worker and I was a CEGEP professor in psychosocial intervention for 17 years. I was also a researcher at the Research Centre for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities (CRISPESH), notably on the inclusion of diversity in jobs and in higher education.
Our CIUSSS prides itself on its diversity. The Jewish General Hospital, in particular, embodies the ideal that inclusivity is a strength. How does this reality fit into your initiative?
It’s a fact that our CIUSSS is extremely diverse. We already have a head start. But we need to go a little further to listen to people about their experiences related to that. Do people feel welcome in terms of their diversity? Do they feel recognized for their added value?
How do you feel about your mandate?
I feel really grateful to be in an organization that made the strategic choice to have a DEIB Officer [the mandate falls under the Directorate of Human Resources, Communications, Legal Affairs and Global Security]. It’s a way of recognizing the value of diversity. We’re going to deploy a vision of DEIB that’s tailor-made for us. What luck!
This doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy. But what we know is that it’s worth setting out on this road, because when each person does better, we all do better. It’s a road we’re taking together.
* DEIB Officer Christine Morin is seeking individuals from our CIUSSS who are interested in joining an advisory committee that will help guide the process on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Positions are open to staff, interns, students, physicians, researchers and volunteers. Do you want to help the CIUSSS with its DEIB initiative? Email Ms. Morin at email@example.com.