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Employment Resource Group (ERG) For Black, Indigenous, and Racialized Staff BIRS: Terms of Reference


An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is intended to be of value and benefit to both the individual members of the group and to the organization. Accordingly, the Black, Indigenous, and Racialized Staff* (BIRS) ERG has been established to contribute to the following mutually beneficial individual and institutional goals:

For individual members, the activities of the ERG are expected to do the following:

  • improve relationships and coalition building opportunities within and across staff* communities;
  • amplify the voices of staff* members in relation to issues and needs elevated for institutional attention;
  • support the acquisition of knowledge, skills, confidence, and networks to facilitate staff* career growth; and
  • increase staff* awareness of and ability to navigate institutional systems.

For the institution, the outcomes of ERG activities are expected to do the following:

  • increase the sense of connectedness, belonging and empowerment reported by staff*;
  • improve institutional awareness of staff* experiences and responsiveness to staff* issues;
  • offer more race-conscious professional development and leadership advancement opportunities; and
  • enhance organizational strategy alignment with anti-racist principles and practices.

Strategic Alignment

McMaster’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy (2019) is in between plans. BIRS ERG will be building upon the existing plan and incorporating the new plan as it emerges. The EDI Strategy (2019) has a vision “to attract and engage a campus community of learners, scholars, practitioners, and leaders that reflects local and national demographic diversity, including groups historically and contemporarily underrepresented, underutilized, and underserved in higher education” (Pillar 3, McMaster’s EDI Framework for Strategic Action). The ERG for Black, Indigenous and Racialized Staff* is one initiative which support the strategic objective “to enhance opportunities for meaningful consultation with, engagement of, and provision of support” to historically underrepresented and underserved community members (Objective 5, EDI Action Plan, 2019 – 2022).

Budget and Sponsorship

The Vice-Provost, Equity and Inclusion (VPEI) and the Assistant Vice-President & Chief Human Resources Officer (AVP/CHRO) are the executive sponsors of this ERG and will together provide a budget of up to $15,000. A stipend will be available to the Leadership Team in the fiscal year to recognize their contributions.

Co-Initiatives supported through Strategic Excellence and Equity in Recruitment and Retention (STEER/R) resources in fiscal years 2023, 2024 and 2025 will be used to facilitate progress for initiatives and priorities i.e. mentoring development initiatives etc.


Membership is open to any McMaster staff* member who identifies as a member of a Black, Indigenous and/or Racialized community. The ERG Leadership Team will consist of one or two Chairs and one or two Vice-Chairs. The Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO) and Human Resource Services (HRS) will provide relevant expertise and consultation through the Inclusion and Anti- Racism Education Manager (EIO) and Program Manager, Employment Equity and Workplace Experience (HRS).

Leadership Team Time Commitments

Each of the members of the leadership team can expect time commitments (fall and winter/spring term) to include leadership team planning meetings (estimated 8 hours), time to follow-up on leadership team tasks (estimated 8 hours), meetings of the ERG membership (estimated 6 hours), and time to plan and follow-up on role-specific tasks (estimated 8 hours).

The Leadership Team will convene at minimum two meetings (one to one and a half hours in duration) per term (or at the call of the Chair/s) to plan activities. The Leadership Team members may also spend time (estimated at two hours per term) outside of these meetings to follow-up on leadership team tasks, as well as time (estimated at two hours a term) to plan and coordinate tasks associated with their unique roles and responsibilities.

At least two annual events will be scheduled for the full membership: such as a social community development event, and/or a career development event.

Chair and Vice-Chair Terms

The Chair will hold a two-year term and Vice-Chairs will hold one or two- terms to suit their availability, but which are sufficiently staggered to ensure continuity.

Chair and Vice-Chair Nomination/Selection Procedures

Vacancies for the Chair and Vice-Chair positions will be posted and widely distributed.

An open call for nominations (including self-nomination) will include a request for a statement of interest to be submitted to the sitting Leadership Team, who will review the statements and make recommendations to the VPEI and AVP/CHRO for endorsement.

Individuals nominated for the Chair and Vice-Chair roles will be selected considering their relevant skills described in the statements of interests in relation to the role to be filled, with an aim to ensure diversity of backgrounds, experiences, employee group representation, and unit affiliation.

The VPEI and AVP/CHRO will send a jointly signed letter of invitation to the selected individuals, copying their supervisor and unit head.

*Staff are employees of the University including, but not limited to: The Management Group (TMG), unionized employees, temporary employees, casual employees, non-teaching staff, Sessional Faculty, Post-doctoral Fellows, and Teaching Assistants.

Terms of Reference Last Edited: October 27, 2023