Important Figure in EDI, Canada: Wendy Cukier, Founder of The Diversity Institute (DI), 1999, Ryerson University

In 1999, Wendy Cukier of the Ted Rogers School of Business Management at Ryerson University, founded the Diversity Institute (DI). 1

I will focus on Cukier here, rather than the DI, since she appears to be an important player in the design of the EDI system in Canada. Universities included. The focus of this post on Cukier notwithstanding, here’s a quick overview of the DI website for reference 2:

“Founded in 1999 by Dr. Wendy Cukier, the Diversity Institute has conducted groundbreaking research on diversity and inclusion in Canada, developed impactful programs like the Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub, external link, opens in new window, championed legislative change on Bill C-25 and has helped companies understand the opportunities of inclusion and develop tools to harness inclusion as a driver for success.

The DI is leading the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, external link, opens in new window and is a partner in the Future Skills Centre, external link, opens in new window.

The facts speak for themselves, inclusion is good for society and good for the bottom line:

Note that Cukier is not only the founder of the Diversity Institute, but also its academic director.

Cukier holds, and has held, many more positions beyond the DI. Many voluntary. Let’s take a look at some of these commitments in order to get to know her better.

Cukier is a professor in the Entrepreneurship & Strategy Department of the Ted Rogers School of Business Management. Her bio-sketch states that she is “is one of Canada’s leading experts in disruptive technologies, innovation processes and diversity. ” Cukier served a five-year term as “Ryerson University’s Vice-President of Research and Innovation.” And she “was the first Associate Dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management.”3

Cukier had served the Canadian Government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) expert panel.4 Related to the WES, Cukier currently serves as one of a network of experts on the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH).5

Cukier sits on the board of the CASA Foundation for International Development. 6 And she is a board member of the Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (REMAP), which “is a new network made possible through the Government of Canada’s Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence program.” REMAP describes its activities, in business-speak, as “a technology accelerator. As new products are launched at an exponential rate, we create supply chains by leveraging Canadian technologies to create business advantage.”7

On September 15, 2000, Cukier was awarded the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross – Civil Division for her gun control advocacy. In 1990, Cukier and Heidi Rathjen “founded the Coalition for Gun Control and became the driving force in the crusade to have Bill C-68 become law.”8

While it’s unclear from the Coalition for Gun Control website whether Cukier is still acting president,9 I did find evidence for her continued presidency in a June 15, 2022 The Conversation article entitled, “Canada shouldn’t be smug about gun violence — it’s a growing problem here, too.”10

Cukier sat on the Canadian Research Chairs (CRC) Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy from 2013-2106 while Vice-President, research and innovation at Ryerson University. And in the years 2017 and 2018 while a professor of information technology management at Ryerson. 11

On December 17, 2015, Brock University announced Cukier’s appointment as President and Vice-Chancellor to begin on Sept. 1, 2016. 12 But a mere four days before Cukier was to take office, her appointment was cancelled by “mutual agreement” with the Brock University board of trustees.13

There was some speculation that the cancellation of Cukier’s appointment was due to an external investigation initiated by Ryerson University over allegations of Cukier bullying fifteen of her office staffers during her stint as Ryerson’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation. The Brock University board of trustees had apparently been unaware of the allegations and investigation notwithstanding “Cukier was initially chosen after a ‘vigorous reference check process’.”14 Cukier returned to her faculty position at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management following her cancelled appointment at Brock. 15

Cukier is an “advocate for social justice.” [see footnote 12] She describes herself as a “Social Justice Advocate” on her Twitter profile,16 screenshot as follows:

Cukier co-founded Lifeline Afghanistan, which launched in September 2021. The non-paritsan network of organizations and individuals works to support and resettle Afghan refugees. 17

References

[1] Dr. Wendy Cukier (she/her), Founder & Academic Director; Professor Entrepreneurship & Strategy, About, Diversity Institute, Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University [Ryerson University], https://www.torontomu.ca/diversity/about/wendy-cukier/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[2] Diversity Institute, Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University [Ryerson University], https://www.torontomu.ca/diversity/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[3] Wendy Cukier, Professor, Entrepreneurship & Strategy Department ,Ted Rogers School of Business Management, https://www.torontomu.ca/tedrogersschool/business-management/majors/entrepreneurship/faculty/wendy-cukier/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[4] “Ex-officio members, Wendy Cukier (Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub), WES Expert Panel, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada, https://wordpress.com/post/keepinganeyeonedi.ca/605, accessed July 31, 2022.

[5] Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, https://wekh.ca/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[6] Advisory Council, The Board, CASA Foundation, https://casafoundation.ca/about-us/the-board/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[7] About Us, An equitable and diverse strategy strategy for growth., Governance, Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (REMAP), https://www.remapnMeriretwork.org/about-us, accessed July 31, 2022.

[8] Ms. Wendy Cukier, Recipients, Meritorious Service Cross, Meritorious Service Decorations – Civil Division, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, The Governor General of Canada, https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/136-6682, accessed July 31, 2022.

[9] Our Mission, Coalition for Gun Control, (not secure), http://guncontrol.ca/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[10] Wendy Cukier, “Canada shouldn’t be smug about gun violence — it’s a growing problem here, too,” The Conversation, June 15, 2022, Canada shouldn’t be smug about gun violence — it’s a growing problem here, too (theconversation.com), accessed August 1, 2022.

[11] Past Committee Members, Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, Canada Research Chairs, Date modified:2022-07-29, Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy (chairs-chaires.gc.ca), August 1, 2022.

[12] “Innovation leader, social justice advocate Wendy Cukier will be next President of Brock University,” The Brock News, Brock University, December 17, 2015, https://brocku.ca/brock-news/2015/12/innovation-leader-social-justice-advocate-wendy-cukier-will-be-next-president-of-brock-university/, accessed July 31, 2022.

[13] “Brock cancels planned appointment of first female president,” The Canadian Press, CBC News, August 30, 2016, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/headlines/brock-cancels-planned-appointment-of-first-female-president-1.3741095, accessed July 31, 2022.

[14] Alex Ballingall, “Bullying probe at Ryerson preceded Cukier’s exit from Brock’s top job,” News, Toronto Star, Fri, Sept. 2, 2016, https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/02/bullying-probe-at-ryerson-preceded-cukiers-exit-from-brocks-top-job.html, accessed July 31, 2022.

[15] Robyn Fiorda & Shaian Martin, “In brief: Wendy Cukier will return to Ryerson next fall,” The Ryersonian, Ryerson School of Journalism, September 15, 2016, https://ryersonian.ca/in-brief-wendy-cukier-will-return-to-ryerson-next-fall/index.htm, accessed July 31, 2022.

[16] Wendy Cukier @CukierWendy, https://twitter.com/CukierWendy, accessed July 31, 2022.

[17] “Lifeline Afghanistan Launched to Support Canada’s Goal to Resettle 20,000 Afghan Refugees,” News, Lifeline Afghanistan, September 5, 2021, Lifeline Afghanistan Launched to Support Canada’s Goal to Resettle 20,000 Afghan Refugees – Lifeline Afghanistan, July 31, 2022.

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