Fostering a Culture of Inclusion at DeGroote

February 22, 2024 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Sandie Kantor and Joanna Williams

Meet DeGroote’s newly-established Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee
(Not pictured: Sona Rai, Staff Committee Member)


“It’s one thing to say we want to embed inclusivity, equity, and diversity into everything we do. It’s another thing to actually do it in a meaningful way.”

– Khaled Hassanein, Dean, DeGroote School of Business

Established in fall 2023, DeGroote’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC) has been working diligently to promote inclusive excellence across the School.

Created out of a desire to foster a safe and inclusive community at DeGroote, the committee is made up of a diverse membership representing different areas of DeGroote, including staff, faculty, students, an EDI specialist (Chair) and an HR Manager.

Dean Hassanein explains why this range of perspectives is critical, “Part of being included is to feel that you’re represented across important bodies. If we want people to feel that their views are respected and that their concerns are amplified, we must have a mix of representation on the committee.”

Committee members meet with colleagues and representatives from equity-deserving communities in their particular areas to understand considerations and concerns individuals are experiencing, and then bring forward these insights to the committee.



During their two-year membership term, committee members meet monthly to discuss and drive forward three key priorities:

  1. Advancing and supporting inclusive excellence at DeGroote
  2. Supporting and advising the Dean and Associate Deans
  3. Ensuring alignment with McMaster University’s EDI strategy

Central to the committee’s mandate is its commitment to amplifying the voices of equity-deserving communities to form their recommendations.

“We gather information, perspectives, knowledge, and experiences related to EDI from equity-deserving communities, so we can inform the work of the committee,” explains Khadijeh Rakie, EDI Specialist and Committee Chair. “I find the work that we do is less about mandating, enforcing or telling folks what to do, and more suggesting, advising and consulting – because a lot of times we’re responding to needs or gaps.”

From ideas to impact

When a recommendation for an initiative is formed by the committee, Rakie presents it to Dean Hassanein. Key stakeholders with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are then consulted, leading to an informed and collective path forward.

The committee is a forum for discussion, reflection, and learning on issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). It is also a signal to DeGroote students, staff, and faculty that EDI is an important pillar of the school.

We all know that the journey to inclusive excellence doesn’t begin or end at DeGroote. It is ongoing. But how do EDI initiatives at DeGroote impact the world outside of the classroom?

“If people feel like they can bring their full selves to the classroom – or the workplace – it really does allow us to perform better and at our full potential, which in turn makes better businesses that contribute positively to society as a whole,” says Rakie.

Looking ahead

In 2024, the EDIAC will execute important initiatives to support its priorities. A couple of examples include:

  • Indigenous reconciliation and representation, including having a dedicated role for Indigenous perspectives on the committee
  • Food insecurity, supporting resources on campus, and lower-income community members

A few committee members share their thoughts on inclusivity:

“As someone who experiences intersectionality as a black woman, it has always been difficult to find mentorship or people in leadership positions who look like me. One of my biggest fears when applying to university is having to deal with being a minority, and the microaggressions and racism that come with it. The transition to university and moving away from home is already stressful enough, but the additional feeling of isolation and anxiety of not being understood or accepted because of your skin or culture is a problem I, and many of my peers who are POC, face. That’s why it’s so important for educational institutions to prioritize diversity and inclusion so students can feel comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone, find community, and most importantly, feel like the institution they are paying thousands of dollars to attend actually cares – and wants to make an effort to understand us.

– Keionna Cousins, EDIAC Student Member and DeGroote Commerce Society VP of Advocacy

“DeGroote, like any other educational institution, should be a place where you are safe to learn and grow. In order for me to grow, I need to listen to my peers, colleagues, and friends to educate myself on the different perspectives of others based on their personal journeys. The school is a safe place and for this to continue we must be open to hearing all thoughts.”

– Maggie Woo, EDIAC Staff Member and Manager of Development

“Equity, diversity, and inclusion means creating a brighter world for all. It is creating a world in which everyone experiences the shared humanity. It is offering opportunities to all to be human as in feeling respected, dignified, and honored.”

– Baniyelme Zoogah, EDIAC Faculty Member and Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources


Get involved

With the EDIAC and the collective efforts of the DeGroote community, together, we can continue to build a school where every single person feels valued, respected, and welcome – just as they are. There are many opportunities to get involved with EDI initiatives at DeGroote and McMaster:

  • Check out and bookmark the EDIAC Committee website for more information and resources
  • Celebrate Black History Month and explore this year’s theme “From Continent to Diaspora: Celebrating Black Resistance” through events and workshops
  • Contact the EDIAC directly for consultation or support on EDI-related matters



2 thoughts on "Fostering a Culture of Inclusion at DeGroote"

  1. Elizabeth Plouffe says:

    This is great to see. Is there anyone on the committee representing neurodiversity?

  2. The DSB Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Committee does encompass various forms of diversity beyond race or ethnicity, including members who identify as neurodivergent. It’s essential for EDI initiatives to be comprehensive and inclusive, recognizing the diverse range of identities and experiences within the McMaster community. Specific identities may not be explicitly named to protect the privacy and confidentiality of committee members. It is a priority that the committee’s composition reflects a commitment to inclusivity and representation across various intersections of diversity.

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