OPSEU’s 2019-20 Social Mapping Project (SMP) was the hot topic of the day at the 19th annual Joint Leadership Day event, held on September 22nd. Hosted by the OPSEU’s Equity Chairs and MC’ed by the chair of the Indigenous Circle, Krista Maracle, the virtual event unveiled the results and recommendations from the union’s second SMP report.
Joint Leadership Day brought together the union’s Executive Board Members, Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC), Central Employee Relations Committee (CERC), Sector Chairs, and senior staff to review the SMP report and discuss avenues to inclusivity at every level of OPSEU’s work.
The 2019-20 SMP consisted of a census questionnaire, interviews and focus groups with participation from more than 27,000 OPSEU members; a systems review analyzing the census data; and a comparison of OPSEU’s policies and practices in relation to best practices of 14 other labour organizations.
“The value in doing this is we’re not just using our own biases or assumptions; this data provides us with facts to help us lead the union, support our members and staff, and constantly improve,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The recommendations included in the final report are evidence-based and rise above political posturing.”
A team of researchers from Graybridge Malkam, hired to conduct the census and perform a systems review, presented a report of the project’s findings and equity-strengthening recommendations at the Joint Leadership Day event. A few key recommendations that were outlined in the report included:
- increased emphasis on skills building courses and mentorship, to support inclusive leadership and culture, for OPSEU’s existing and upcoming leaders;
- continuous review of all governing policies and practices to ensure they stay current with the needs of OPSEU’s increasingly diverse membership; and
- clear measurement and accountability reporting on the union’s equity-strengthening commitments.
“This initiative by OPSEU has been extraordinary in its breadth and comprehensiveness,” said Graybridge Malkam lead researcher, Denise McLean. “The powerful combination of the membership census data, the review of policies and practices, the consultations with members and staff, and the involvement of union leaders and Equity groups yielded great insights for moving forward.”
OPSEU’s first SMP, which took place in 2009-10, led to increased representation for Indigenous and francophone members in the union, as well as lessened the gaps in representation for racialized members and women. The 50 recommendations coming out of the 2019-20 SMP report will aim to further reduce barriers to inclusivity, placing equity issues at the core of representing and defending OPSEU’s members’ rights in their workplaces and in their communities.
“The social mapping project tells the stories of our membership, it tells their concerns and their struggles, and it tells us how to pave the road ahead to properly support them and stand with them,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “It guides us in moving forward, from social mapping to a road map.”