Five Awesome Questions is a series that focuses on sharing the vital contributions of many different areas or departments across Sinai Health. For this installment, we are learning about Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness at Sinai Health.

Established in early 2019, the Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness Department fosters workplace wellbeing by building an inclusive culture, where all our diverse people can experience a sense of belonging and contribute to their full potential, feel connected, engaged and energized.

The team consists of Kim Jeffreys, Director, Farha Bakharia, Workplace Wellness Coordinator, Kathryn Edgett, Specialist, Sarah Troper, Specialist, and Suhail Rafiq, Advisor.

We asked them five questions to help get a better idea of what they do and the ways they’re helping Sinai Health.

1. There are many roles in the Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness Department. What does a typical day or week look like for the team?

Our department implements initiatives aimed at improving the workplace experience for our employees, physicians, learners, scientists and volunteers. A week will often be filled with managing wellbeing programs and services, advising our people on ways to promote inclusive workplaces, resolving harassment or discrimination concerns and facilitating inclusion events and celebrations.

2. What are the differences between diversity, inclusion and wellness? Why are these qualities important at Sinai Health?

Diversity means recognizing the value of working alongside people with qualities and experiences that are different from our own like race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs and more. Inclusion describes programs, policies and services designed to foster awareness and a sense of belonging. Wellness supports workplace wellbeing through resources that optimize physical and psychological health.

An organization has to work hard to build an inclusive culture that supports its people’s diverse needs. Our Department was established as part of the belief that high-quality and compassionate care starts with investing in our people and enabling a positive workplace culture.

3. How does Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness support our people? What should someone contact your team about?

We support our people offerings such as Healthy Workplace Month, Wellness Fairs, and Mental Health Awareness Week. We also organize educational, celebratory and social events to recognize: Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Month, Human Rights Day, and more.

You can also talk us if you require an accommodation to ensure an inclusive workplace environment – these requests are typically related to pregnancy, creed, disability, or gender identity and expression. We are available if you need advice on whether uncomfortable workplace incidents amount to harassment or discrimination and we can work with you on resolution and remedies. 

Finally, we encourage everyone to contact us if you have suggestions related to our services. We’d love to hear feedback on how we can improve and better assist our people.

4. What services do you offer that our people may be unaware of or find surprising?

Our Workplace Wellness initiatives help improve physical and psychological wellbeing. If you’re looking to be more active, join our Become a Sinai Runner Program and increase your fitness levels in just eight weeks. For emotional support, we have a Mindfulness Program which builds resiliency by encouraging people to reflect on their thoughts and feelings. There are so many more initiatives and there’s something for almost everyone.

5. What are some upcoming and particularly exciting projects?

We are excited about developing our new mental health strategy, which, will guide Sinai Health’s efforts to nurture emotional wellbeing among our people. In February, we will begin piloting the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s The Working Mind training with our people leaders. The Working Mind is an education-based program designed to address and promote mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness in a workplace setting. With the goal of delivering the training to our people at all levels of the organization, we are also building e-learning modules in partnership with UHN.

 

Help us create a diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Speak up when you hear demeaning jokes and comments, or stereotypical remarks
  • Express compassion when someone says discrimination or harassment is occurring
  • Be open to feedback about your own behaviour and learn from past mistakes

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