Message from the Transformation and Equity Committee

10 December 2020
Associate Professor Zenda Woodman and Associate Professor Marc Hendricks, Co-Chairs of the Transformation and Equity Committee
Associate Professor Zenda Woodman and Associate Professor Marc Hendricks, Co-Chairs of the Transformation and Equity Committee

In 2020, the newly constituted Deanery seized the nettle and launched the Transformation Framework Document on 16th June. In the wake of the launch, each Deputy Dean presented plans for transformation in each of their portfolios to the Faculty Deans Management Committee (DMC). Since then, work has begun to action these for roll out in 2021, which includes a first ever Faculty of Health Sciences transformation survey, sensitisation workshops for Faculty leadership, the introduction of Honours transformation awards toward research costs and the introduction of a stimulus grant award for young investigators. 

Other achievements included the opening of a Faculty portal for Employment Equity representative applications with substantiative administrative support, the agreement to employ a Transformation Officer in the Faculty, the election of the advisory committee of the Student Liaison and Advocacy Office, the roll out of the Transferrable Successes Webinar series in the Faculty as a way to share transformative ideas and interventions across departments and divisions,  and the application for the first grant to support research in the area of minority LGBTQIA+ physicians in the Faculty as a collaboration with the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Humanities.

2020 was not without its challenges and controversies, seeing both internal and public debate over allegations of racism and sexism in the Division of Orthopaedics flighted by local media. This was a source of great tribulation for the Transformation and Equity Committee (TEC) in 2020 and although a Faculty-led divisional review was conducted and outcomes generated, the process also resulted in the resignation of one of the TEC committee members in protest.  COVID-19 also had a huge impact on our ability to interact, strategise and implement change not only because of restrictions on movement but also due to staff illness and the loss of staff and students to the pandemic. However, even under these difficult circumstances departments continued with transformation initiatives culminating in the submission of a faculty transformation report to the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) that highlighted both highs and lows across departments. There is still much to be done while celebrating the hard work of dedicated staff and students. None more so than the staff who remain committed to act as Employment Equity representatives in selection committees. 

Hopefully, the roll-out of a vaccine heralds the steady return to normalcy and with it comes a year to make good on the projects and strategies we have put in place in 2020, to meet the June 2021 benchmarks which the Dean has put in place. More importantly, it is an opportunity to commit to changing attitudes and responses to gender-based violence (GBV) and decolonisation of the curriculum. We look forward to a year of robust debate and critique, collaboration and coming together to work towards the implementation of ideas to effect real change in the lived experience of all staff and students. We appeal to the Faculty community to join us through your participation and contributions to help us achieve our goal of changing our institutional culture. 

Associate Professor Zenda Woodman and Associate Professor Marc Hendricks
Co-Chairs of the Transformation and Equity Committee

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