For twenty years, OSTA-AECO has been an integral stakeholder in the education sector, and we’ve built a name for ourselves by advocating for the students of Ontario on the provincial stage.

Earlier this year, we refreshed the OSTA-AECO brand as part of a larger strategy to shift the culture within our organization. As we communicated to our stakeholders when we unveiled our refreshed brand: it’s not just our look that’s changing—we’re changing. In short, we recognized that our outward presence and our internal culture didn’t align.

That’s why our culture change is upheld by three defining pillars: accountabilitycollaboration, and transparency.

Central to this culture change is a commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive working environment for the people who work within the organization. While inclusivity has always been an unspoken tenet foundational to the way OSTA-AECO operates, recent events around the world have demonstrated that now, more than ever, there is an onus on all organizations, including ours, to demonstrate our solidarity and disavowal for discrimination, violence, and hate in tangible ways.

We have an accountability to ensure that the internal operations at OSTA-AECO are conducive to fostering safe, welcoming spaces in which advocacy work may thrive. Creating cultures of inclusivity and diversity allow us all do to our best work. In organizations such as ours, culture is often set by the ‘tone at the top’. Over the last several months, we’ve introduced corporate governance explicitly enabling these kinds of cultures to grow. Last month, we put into effect the Respectful Workplace Policy and Respectful Workplace Procedure which outlines the types of behaviour we deem incompatible with inclusive spaces; today, I’m excited for the launch of the Code of Conduct and Ethics for Employees, Volunteers, and Directors, which comes into force immediately and will act as a guiding framework for all of OSTA-AECO’s business, advocacy, and professional dealings and decisions.

The board is committed to implementing more policies, procedures, and professional development opportunities to make OSTA-AECO a more collaborative place to work. The key to a healthy and productive relationship between the board of directors and the executive council is collaboration, just as the key to healthy and productive relationships between an executive council and its general assembly is also collaboration. Over the last year, we instituted committees on the board of directors to drive parallel, asynchronous areas of work in the corporate governance, human resources, mentorship and outreach, and financial auditing and risk spaces, and we’re excited to share that select committees have seats dedicated to members of the executive council who are interested in contributing to the operational side of the organization.

We’ve heard feedback from our community that our transparency as an organization is an area where we have room to improve. Starting this month, the board of directors will be increasing the frequency of its meetings to once per month, and the executive council will be welcome to attend public sessions of these meetings as audience members. Additionally, we’ll be following in the executive council’s footsteps by publishing our board meeting minutes to osta-aeco.org regularly. We’re committed to ensuring that our stakeholders are apprised of the business conducted by the board of directors. A list of the board meeting dates for the 2020-2021 fiscal year can be found on our internal wiki, and agendas will be posted week prior to each meeting.

On a personal note: I’ve been involved with OSTA-AECO for eight years now, and I’ve seen this organization undergo an immense amount of growth and change. We’ve been on a consistent upward trajectory in those eight years, and I have the utmost faith in the leadership team we have in place today. That being said, we cannot be successful without our executive council, who truly are the driving force for the advocacy and professional development work we do. To the executive council, I say: thank you for volunteering your time, energy, and heart to advocate for the students of Ontario. I look forward to getting to know you over the next year, and I know that together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

I’m excited about the cultural changes we’re implementing, and I know the rest of the OSTA-AECO leadership team is, too. Any member on the board of directors, including our CEO and CFO, will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about this letter and the changes being implemented. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Yours in leadership,

Arjun Dhanjal
Chair, Board of Directors

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