Update: OHTN Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism

The OHTN Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, published in the spring of 2021, sets out the OHTN’s commitment to addressing anti-Black racism. We’re excited to inform you that we met 95% of our deliverables for the first half of the 2021-2022 fiscal year. In particular, we’d like to highlight:

New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy. In June 2021, the OHTN Board of Directors approved a revised Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy. This policy, which was developed with the help of our Confronting Anti-Black Racism Committee, makes specific mention of groups disproportionately affected by HIV, notes the ways in which HIV is intertwined with the social determinants of health, and lays out a set of principles and values to help shape the OHTN’s mission, practices, and engagement with all people living with or at risk of HIV.

New Code of Conduct and Ethical Responsibilities. This policy applies to OHTN staff, students, and volunteers. It details a workplace culture that prioritizes a strong commitment to the OHTN’s mission; integrity and ethical conduct in all activities; and clear accountability measures. The ethical responsibilities outlined in the Code of Conduct involve adherence to legal, financial, and other administrative policies, as well as more general standards of behaviour that help OHTN to maintain an inclusive, ethical, and mission-driven workplace.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey. To improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at the OHTN, we need to first understand the current environment. In July 2021, detailed surveys were sent to OHTN staff, Board of Directors members, and members of Board-associated OHTN committees in order to understand the diversity of our identities and capture current experiences regarding inclusion and equity in our organization. The survey results will be analyzed by a third-party consultant and presented back to staff and the Board.

A More Diverse Board. To ensure that the OHTN’s governance is representative of people living with HIV as well as Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities disproportionately affected by HIV, the Board recruited three new members to the OHTN Board of Directors. Hazel Palmer is a seasoned senior executive with more than 18 years experience in the non-profit sector. Born in London, England and raised in Montreal, Hazelle is also proud of her Caribbean heritage. Eric Peters came into the HIV sector 23 years ago. Committed to dismantling systems of anti-Black racism, he is a strong advocate of community organizing and self-determination. Clifford Mushquash is Anishnabe and a member of Pays Plat First Nation. He has worked in a variety of health and human service jobs in Northern Ontario, and is currently completing a Masters in Public Health with a specialization in Indigenous and Northern Health.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Advisory Committee. We’re also pleased to announce the formation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Advisory Committee. This committee of the Board will work closely with the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Committee to develop and implement a comprehensive OHTN diversity, racial equity and inclusion strategy.

In the months ahead, we will focus on: developing a comprehensive DEI Strategy, auditing our human resources policies and procedures, and redesigning our website to better reflect work in key communities. We look forward to sharing more with you in the new year, and hope that you’ll continue to hold us accountable for the Action Plan commitments.