Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan Mandated for Canada Research Chairs
Date: May 9, 2017
A new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to address the under-representation of women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities among Canada Research Chairs will soon affect certain universities – and require proactive compliance within specified timelines. Find out how this important initiative will impact your institution – and what you need to be doing now to prepare for implementation.
The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan
Following a consultation process earlier this year, the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat announced on May 4, 2017 that it is implementing an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (Action Plan) to expedite progress towards addressing the under-representation of women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities among Canada Research Chairs. The new requirements apply to universities with five or more chairholder allocations. Aggressive timelines have been set for compliance with the new requirements and universities that do not comply within the specified timeframes will face the withholding of peer review and payments for nominations until the requirements are fulfilled.
We have summarized the key components of the Secretariat’s Action Plan – grouped in accordance with the timeframes for compliance – in the discussion below. Those items which require action on the university’s part are highlighted with a double asterisk (**).
- Initiate a public consultation: The Secretariat will initiate a formal, public consultation on potential changes that could be made to the program to respond to the seven recommendations set out in the Canada Research Chairs 15th Year Evaluation. This consultation will include further changes designed to address equity and diversity challenges in the program.
- Develop and share best practices for recruitment, hiring and retention: The Secretariat has developed and made available a document entitled Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention, which is designed for use as a tool to inform affected universities’ decision-making regarding the measures needed to meet equity and diversity objectives.
- **Participation in the University and College Academic Staff System survey: All affected universities will be required to participate in the University and College Academic Staff System survey administered by Statistics Canada in 2017 and thereafter.
- Clarify program literature: The Secretariat has made several changes to program literature to:
- expand the focus of the program’s equity efforts by including diversity and inclusion as expected outcomes of the program’s and the universities’ equity efforts
- clarify expectations regarding equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the program’s literature
- clarify the program’s literature to ensure that universities consider their equity targets, gaps and the “glass ceiling” effect during decision-making processes
- change the leaves policy to allow chairholders to work part-time for a period of 12 months or less as they transition back to work following maternity, parental, medical or family medical leaves
- clarify that expenses related to equity and diversity efforts are eligible under the Research Support Fund.
- Revise the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy (Committee): The Secretariat will revise the Committee’s terms of reference to:
- have the Committee report directly to the program’s senior management governance committees
- expand the Committee’s mandate to include all of the programs the Secretariat manages in order to ensure alignment in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion within all of those programs
- appoint an external chair to lead the Committee
- expand the membership to include other key stakeholders
- add, as part of their mandate, a yearly review of the transparency and openness of institutional recruitment processes
- advise on issues related to diversity and inclusion, as well as equity.
- Provide training on unconscious bias for governance committee and peer review committee members: The Secretariat will make biennial training on unconscious bias and equity, diversity and inclusion mandatory for all governance committee and peer review committee members.
- Increase the number of universities included in the yearly monitoring schedule to verify the transparency of their recruitment and nomination processes: The Committee will conduct an annual review of the transparency and openness of the recruitment processes utilized by affected universities, and report to the management committee on the results and any recommended actions. The Secretariat reserves the right to ask any university to provide the following documentation within 24 months following a nomination to demonstrate that the process followed was transparent, open and equitable:
- a copy of its open announcement (job advertisement), including a statement regarding its commitment towards equity and the participation of members from designated groups
- membership details of the hiring committees (indicating that the committees or individuals involved in the decision-making process include representatives of the designated groups)
- the names of senior officials responsible for ensuring the recruitment process was in line with the university’s equity and diversity targets and the program’s requirements for an open and transparent recruitment process
- a description of equity, diversity and inclusion training provided to individuals who participated in the process (including training on unconscious bias)
- a description of the role of the equity officer or equivalent official
- a description of the strategy used to identify and actively recruit members of designated groups
- a description of safeguards put in place to ensure that individuals who experienced career interruptions were not disadvantaged during the nomination process
- evaluation criteria and assessment grids
- copies of relevant internal policies and guidelines (e.g. equity policies, tenure-track hiring practices/policies, collective agreement or equivalent)
- a description of the best practices used to collect data on the participation of individuals from the designated groups, including a copy of the self-identification form
- a description of how the chairholder is being or will be mentored and integrated within the work environment.
The Action Plan also states that the Secretariat will continue to monitor job posting advertisements to ensure they meet program requirements regarding the Tier 2 justification option for individuals who are more than 10 years from their highest degrees and have taken career breaks, and to ensure they include institutional equity statements.
- Review and revise the Guidelines for Ensuring a Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process: These Guidelines will be reviewed and revised by the Secretariat to ensure they are aligned with the program’s equity, diversity and inclusion goals.
- Develop tools for data collection: The Secretariat will work with the leadership of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council to develop harmonized tools for collecting self-identification data from applicants for all three programs.
- Raise the prestige and significance of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Award: The Secretariat will explore ways to raise the prestige and significance of this annual award, which recognizes recipients’ progress in addressing equity, diversity and inclusion.
- Conduct an analysis of success rates to monitor for bias: The Secretariat will conduct an analysis of success rates of women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities to monitor for bias in the program’s peer review process (including unconscious bias with respect to nominations that include career interruptions).
By October 2017
- Revise the chairs nomination form: The Secretariat will amend the self-identification form to better align the questions with best practices for collecting self-identification data, identify the benefits of self-identification, and clarify how the information collected will be used and protected. The Secretariat will also revise the administrative page in the nomination package to include questions for universities about the transparency of the recruitment and nomination form for each chair nomination submitted to the program.
By October 23, 2017
- **Require universities to submit of a copy of the open job advertisement with the paper copy of all nominations submitted to the program for peer review: As of this deadline, the program will not accept any nominations that do not provide evidence of an openly advertised process. This requirement will apply to new, advancement and foreign nominations.
By October 27, 2017
- **Implement Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Public Accountability and Transparency Requirements: To be eligible to participate in the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP), all affected universities will be required by this date to publish specified information on their websites regarding the management of their chair allocations. The information to be published includes:
- an equity, diversity and inclusion commitment statement related to the CRCP and the university’s broader research enterprise
- a strategy for raising awareness within the university of its commitment to and the benefits of equity, diversity and inclusion within the CRCP and the broader research enterprise
- a governance plan for the approval of the university’s equity, diversity and inclusion action plan (see below)
- for affected universities, a copy of their equity, diversity and inclusion action plan (see below)
- contact information for the individual or individuals responsible for implementing the university’s equity, diversity and inclusion agenda who can respond to questions or concerns related to equity and diversity
- a description of how equity, diversity and inclusion concerns received by the university are monitored and addressed, and reported to senior management
- the university’s equity targets and gaps for each of the designated groups or a link to the program’s equity target data (numbers less than five must be withheld to protect the privacy of chairholders, unless all of the university’s chairholders give explicit permission to share the data)
- all policies that govern the staffing of Canada Research Chair positions at the university, to be published with the equity, diversity and inclusion plan (see below), acknowledging that these policies may change as part of the development of the university’s action plan
- the university’s CRCP utilization spreadsheet, which outlines how many chair allocations the university has, how many are filled and by which chairholders (with their term end and start dates), type of flex moves used and which allocations are available
- for external recruitment processes, which are open to all potential internal and external candidates, a link to the advertisements for all active chair position postings
- for internal retention processes, which are open only to existing faculty at the university, a transparency statement posted at the start of the recruitment process advising internal and external stakeholders that a recruitment process is underway to fill a chair allocation, which must include the minimum level of information necessary to meet the spirit of transparency (e.g. the department/faculty conducting the process, tier of the chair position, the field of research being targeted, and the name and contact information of an individual who can answer any questions regarding the process)
- archived CRCP job postings for at least three years
- a link to the program’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Practices page
- a public report on the progress made in meeting the university’s objectives (due on October 31 of each year).
By November 2017
- **Require training of all individuals involved in the recruitment and nomination processes: The Secretariat’s Action Plan requires that all those involved in recruitment and nomination processes must be provided with training on the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion within the program, as well as the negative impact unconscious bias may have on women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.
November 6 to 8, 2017
- **Participate in and promote the 2017 Gender Summit: The Action Plan calls upon universities to demonstrate leadership by participating in and promoting this event.
By December 2017
- **Require that all universities collect data on the participation of designated group members, applications received for job postings for chairs and active chairholders: Best practices on how to collect data are provided in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention tool.
By December 15, 2017
- **Development of equity, diversity and inclusion action plans: The Secretariat’s Action Plan requires all affected universities to develop their own equity, diversity and inclusion action plans, focused on maintaining current levels of participation and increasing the representation of women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities among chairholders. The Action Plan states that universities’ own equity, diversity and inclusion action plans must include at minimum the following components:
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Objectives and Measurement Strategies, which will enable the University to make swift progress towards:
- addressing disadvantages currently experienced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities
- meeting the university’s equity targets and goals in the next 18 to 24 months – aggressive objectives must be set using this timeline based on the number of chair allocations that are (or will become) available in the university within the next 18 to 24 months (the 18 months starts as of December 15, 2017, when the action plan is implemented).
Objectives should be specific, measurable, aligned with the wanted outcome, realistic and timely (i.e. S.M.A.R.T.), and include a measurement strategy for monitoring, reporting on progress, and course correcting if necessary, based on:
- an employment systems review to identify the extent to which the university’s current recruitment practices are open and transparent; barriers or practices that could be having an adverse effect on the employment of individuals from the designated groups; and corrective measures that will be taken to address systematic inequities
- a comparative review – by gender, designated group and field of research – of the level of institutional support (e.g. protected time for research, salary and benefits, additional research funds, office space, mentoring, administrative support, equipment, etc.) provided to all current chairholders, including measures to address systemic inequities
- an environmental scan to gauge the health of the university’s current workplace environment and the impact that this may be having (either positive or negative) on the university’s ability to meet its equity, diversity and inclusion objectives, and measures that will be taken to address any issues raised
- the university’s unique challenges based on its characteristics (e.g. size, language requirements, geographic location, etc.) in meeting its equity targets and how these will be managed and mitigated
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Objectives and Measurement Strategies, which will enable the University to make swift progress towards:
- Management of Canada Research Chair Allocations – universities’ equity, diversity and inclusion action plans must include a description of:
- the university’s policies and processes for recruiting Canada Research chairholders, and all safeguards that are in place to ensure that these practices are open and transparent
- how the university manages its allocation of chairs and who is involved in these decisions (e.g. committee(s), vice-president level administrators, deans/department heads)
- the university’s decision-making process for determining in which faculty, department, research area to allocate its chair positions, and who approves these decisions
- the decision-making process for how the university chooses to use the corridor of flexibility in managing its allocation of chairs, and who approves these decisions
- the decision-making process and criteria for determining whether Tier 2 and Tier 1 chairholders will be submitted for renewal and who is involved in these decisions
- the process and criteria for deciding whether to advance individuals from a Tier 2 chair to a Tier 1 chair, and who is involved in these decisions
- the process and criteria for deciding which chairholder(s) will be phased-out in the case where the university loses a chair due to the re-allocation process, and who is involved in these decisions
- the decision-making process for determining what level of support is provided to chairholders (e.g. protected time for research, salary and benefits, additional research funds, office space, mentoring, administrative support, equipment, etc.), and who within the university is involved in these decisions
- safeguards taken to ensure that individuals from the designated groups are not disadvantaged in negotiations related to the level of institutional support provided to them (e.g. protected time for research, salary and benefits, additional research funds, office space, mentoring, administrative support, equipment, etc.)
- measures to ensure that individuals from the designated groups are not disadvantaged when applying to a chair position in cases where they have career gaps due to parental or health related leaves or for the care and nurturing of family members
- training and development activities related to unconscious bias, equity, diversity and inclusion for administrators and faculty involved in the recruitment and nomination processes for chair positions (acknowledging that research has shown unconscious bias can have adverse, unintended and negative impacts on the overall success/career of individuals, especially those from the designated groups).
- Collection of Equity and Diversity Data – universities’ equity, diversity and inclusion action plans must include a description of:
- the university’s processes and strategies for collecting and protecting data on the designated groups (both applicants to chair positions and successful candidates)
- the university’s strategies for encouraging individuals to self-identify as a member of the designated groups
- an example of the university’s self-identification form as an appendix.
- Retention and Inclusivity – universities’ equity, diversity and inclusion action plans must include a description of:
- how the university provides a supportive and inclusive workplace for all chairholders (including those from the designated groups) and how this is monitored (e.g. survey of chairholders, monitoring why chairholders leave the university)
- the procedures, policies and supports in place that enable the retention of individuals from the designated groups
- the process by which the university manages complaints from its chairholders/faculty related to equity within the program
- the contact information for an individual or individuals at the university responsible for addressing any equity concerns/complaints regarding the management of the university’s chair allocations
- a mechanism for how concerns/complaints are monitored and addressed, and reported to senior management.
The Action Plan states that universities’ equity, diversity and inclusion action plans are to be developed in consultation with members of the four designated groups, as well as chairholders, faculty and administrators responsible for administering the program, and are to include meaningful equity, diversity and inclusion objectives to be met within the 18 to 24 months following the implementation of the plan. Universities will be required to report publicly and to the program by October 31st of each year on their progress towards achieving these objectives.
- Target-setting methodology and data collection: The Secretariat’s Action Plan includes a number further of requirements with respect to equity target-setting and data collection to be implemented in 2018-19, including the following:
- review and revise the current equity target-setting methodology that is used to set targets within the program
- require all universities to participate in the equity target-setting exercise to update their equity data
- continue to publicly share each year the results of the target-setting exercise.
Many universities have already developed equity, diversity and inclusion goals and objectives, and implemented strategies for advancing those goals and measuring their progress through data collection. However, whether or not this is the case, considerable work will be required during the balance of this calendar year to ensure compliance can be achieved with the specific requirements of the Secretariat’s new Action Plan within the specified timeframes, and on an ongoing basis to demonstrate tangible progress towards equity, diversity and inclusion objectives during the following 18 to 24 months.
The articles in this client update provide general information and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. This publication is copyrighted by Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP and may not be photocopied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. ©
 The term “visible minorities” continues to be used in the Secretariat’s Action Plan because of the use of this term in federal Employment Equity legislation, despite the fact that racialized individuals now constitute the demographic majority in some large Canadian urban areas.
 In many instances, we have reproduced the text of the Secretariat’s Action Plan in verbatim (or near verbatim) form in order to remain faithful to their description of the new requirements. While we have not separately identified each of these instances, we wish to acknowledge our reliance on the text of their program publications in preparing this FTR Now.