The Social Mapping Project (SMP) is a ground-breaking demographic survey and review of OPSEU/SEFPO membership systems. Launched in 2010, it was the first of its kind. It has since allowed OPSEU/SEFPO to identify gaps and barriers by providing the necessary information to ensure services meet the needs of all its members. The SMP was also a response to the changing demographics of Ontario and the need for OPSEU/SEFPO to plan, improve and monitor its services to the membership, specifically to the groups of focus identified in the study. New priorities, programs and policies have been centred on promoting greater diversity. This move towards increased inclusion has resulted in a better understanding of the composition of the membership and workforce, and in turn, has placed OPSEU/SEFPO on the map as a leader in human rights. Here is a quick timeline of the work:
- 2010 – Phase I of the project included a comprehensive survey of all OPSEU/SEFPO members. Almost 27,000 members participated.
- 2011 – Phase II examined the education and election membership systems at OPSEU/SEFPO and made recommendations for improvements.
- 2012 – Recommendations from Phase III were released with a focus on reviewing the union’s communications, bargaining and organizing systems.
Status reports from the SMP Implementation Task Force tracked each of the recommendations from 2012-2017. Of the 77 recommendations, more than two-thirds were completed or in progress.
OPSEU/SEFPO 2017 Convention mandated a new Social Mapping initiative that kicked off in mid-2019 to provide a comprehensive view of the union’s diversity, inclusion and equity indicators and practices. In particular the 2019-2020 initiative included:
- A Member Survey that collected data from over 27,000 members on the demographics of the membership and their experiences of the OPSEU/SEFPO. It provided a robust sample for an extensive set of analyses at the level of the overall membership as well as within seven equity groups of focus and their intersecting identities.
- A Membership Systems Review that identified positive practices and unintended systemic barriers to inclusion of the full diversity of OPSEU/SEFPO members. This involved an extensive documentation review and a series of fact-finding interviews; inputs from more than fifty (50) members through interview or focus groups; consultations with the Equity Committees/Caucuses; targeted analysis of the census survey responses; and an external review that highlighted relevant good practices from 14 other labour organizations.
- Close collaboration with the Equity Unit, SMP Committees and the Equity Committees/Caucuses helped compile information, identify priorities, guide the analysis, provide insights and interpret findings.
- A Final Consolidated Report includes forty nine (49) recommendations with suggested approached for implementation that provide a road map for evidence-based systemic change within OPSEU/SEFPO.
Demographics Survey Highlights
The workplaces that OPSEU/SEFPO represents and the new ones it seeks to organize have increasing diversity among their employees. Societal demands related to equity and inclusion are more urgent than ever. For OPSEU/SEFPO to continue to remain relevant, strong and united it needs to harness the energy of a diverse membership. Within the last ten years since the first Social Mapping Project, the membership has evolved. Members who self-identify within an equity-seeking group are an increasing proportion of the membership, including:
- Young Workers – from 22% in 2010 to 26% in 2020
- Racialized members – from 10% to 14%
- People with disabilities – from 9% to 14%
- People with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual – from 5% to 10%
- There are slight increases in the percentages of women (72%) and the percentages of Indigenous members (6.5%); the percentage of francophones has remained relatively stable (9%)
OPSEU/SEFPO members identify with over 125 different ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Individually, over half of the respondents (54%) identify with two or more ethnic / cultural groups. They speak more than 90 different languages. Individually, almost three in ten respondents (28.6%) report they are comfortable in more than one language.
For additional demographic information of various equity groups broken down by Region, Division or Sector, contact email@example.com. Bargaining teams, division executives and others may find the information helpful in preparing for bargaining or planning union activities.
Final Consolidated Report and Recommendations
The 2020 SMP Consolidated Report focuses most directly on the implications from the Membership Systems Review and the Membership Census. It presents 49 recommendations clustered in 15 categories.
To move from a “social map” to a “roadmap” for action, the findings and recommendations are structured according to the causal model presented above. The model shows that the starting point for effective equity systems is a foundation of commitment and readiness within the union. A diverse membership provides the ‘raw ingredients’ that, when effectively engaged and equitably united, can generate the strength of solidarity and impact that OPSEU/SEFPO desires.
The 2020 SMP Report identifies three categories of ‘Enabling Systems’ that can drive change:
- Systems that are directly focused on building equity-related capacity in the organization
- Equity Committees and Caucuses are an important building block; the review shows that they could be leveraged to greater advantage for stronger, more widespread impact
- Some equity-related courses and supporting materials are in place. Some updating is required. In the current societal context, a strategically focused expansion of these resources is called for. Targeted development for leaders would make good sense.
- Some attention and practical actions are suggested that could help to have a consistently effective process for assessing and resolving equity-related elements within member complaints.
- A focus on the desired impact of equity-related actions, and clearer accountabilities and monitoring, would help put some ‘teeth’ into OPSEU/SEFPO stated commitments.
2. Processes that meet or exceed diverse members’ expectations of ‘belonging’
- In general OPSEU/SEFPO practices for accommodating individual needs are in place. There are several enhancements that would bring them to a level that will meet the evolving characteristics and expectations of an expanding and increasingly diverse membership.
- Updated approaches to communications – style, messaging, vehicles and grassroots support – could have a stronger impact in building commitment, sense of belonging, and awareness of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion within today’s (and tomorrow’s) evolving membership population.
- Among some of the equity-seeking groups, as many as 1 in 6 members do not feel that the union’s campaigns and initiatives reflect their interests and concerns. Actions to build diversity into the campaign and bargaining processes are recommended, to help uncover and address issues of importance to all members.
- To maintain and strengthen a sense of ‘belonging’ among the members, particularly those who are members of equity-seeking groups, an intentional set of initiatives can be implemented to support an evolution of the culture and leadership style of the union. The desired outcome is a welcoming and respectful climate fostered by an inclusive leadership approach.
3. Systems that enhance equity in opportunities for involvement
- Members reported that the most common barriers to being more involved are ‘lack of time’ and ‘scheduling of events is inconvenient’ (1 in 3 members and 1 in 4 members, respectively). Significant numbers also reported that not being aware of opportunities posed a barrier to them. Some innovative problem-solving could help make inroads here; there are recommendations and actions suggested within the report.
- Some of the processes for accessing training and development opportunities are informal and can fall prey to unintended biases. Modernized and more flexible training methods are not yet fully utilized, maintaining some longstanding barriers in access. We have suggested more attention to approaches that would build and monitor the diversity of the ‘talent pipeline’.
- Elections are a central process of concern within the union environment. There are several constraints to diverse participation, such as barriers to new candidates becoming known, inflexible voting processes, an acceptance of small quorum numbers, a reliance on verbal communication skills, etc. Particularly during the COVID pandemic there are opportunities to revisit traditional practices
*For a copy of the Executive Summary and Recommendations of the 2020 SMP Consolidated Report, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Consolidated Report’s concluding statement includes: “While much has been done, much remains to be done.” Over the years, OPSEU/SEFPO has achieved an impressive track record of commitment to equity. The evidence from the current initiative suggests that there is a compelling need now to continue to put actions to those commitments. The recommendations in the report, with their associated suggested actions, provide the ingredients for an aggressive agenda. The current context can be difficult – a heightened public focus on diversity, equity and inclusion while simultaneously the pandemic creates job loss and health concerns. This current review is reassuring that some innovative ideas, paired with a commitment to continuing to make progress, will enable OPSEU/SEFPO to move forward.
The Implementation of the forty nine (49) Recommendations contained in the Report will be facilitated and monitored by the Social Mapping Project Implementation Task Force. The Task Force is composed of two (2) members from each Equity Committee/Caucus and two (2) Executive Board members, with the assistance of Equity Unit staff.