Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Practices

Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Government of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) are committed to excellence in research and research training for the benefit of Canadians. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is also essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to seize opportunities and for responding to global challenges. As such, the program is committed to the federal government’s policies on non-discrimination and employment equity.

Participating institutions administer funds in partnership with the agencies and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS). Therefore, all institutions that accept agency funding are expected to make concerted efforts to meet their equity and diversity targets, and provide a supportive and inclusive workplace. This supports the goals of equity, diversity and inclusion within the CRCP and the broader Canadian research enterprise.

The program’s Steering Committee sent open letters to the university presidents who participate in the program, reminding them of these commitments and expectations. The letters are available to read online:

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan outlines the immediate actions that will be taken to address the following recommendation in the program’s 15th-year evaluation:

Management should require institutions to adopt greater transparency in their processes for allocation of chair positions and selection and renewal of chairholders, in order to ensure institutions have greater accountability in terms of meeting their equity targets.”

The action plan focuses on improving the program’s governance and transparency, and addressing the long-standing equity, diversity, and inclusion challenges in the program.

In addition, from July to September 2017, TIPS conducted a public consultation with key stakeholders asking for feedback on all seven of the evaluation’s recommendations. TIPS will carefully consider the feedback, and any program changes are expected to be implemented during 2018-19.

Transparency Requirements and Best Practices

Equity, diversity and inclusion public accountability and transparency requirements

These accountability and transparency requirements list the specific information related to administering a chair that institutions must clearly publish on their websites by October 2017. Meeting these requirements is a condition of program eligibility. Institutions must also strive to put in place measures that ensure members of underrepresented populations can access and benefit from the program equally.

Guidelines for ensuring a fair and transparent recruitment and nomination process

Note: The guidelines are under review, and a revised version will be available in spring/summer 2017.

These recruitment guidelines provide examples and principles related to the program’s recruitment, selection and nomination processes. These apply to the nomination of new chairs (including foreign candidates), whether the chair is used for retention purposes or as a recruiting tool, as well as to the advancement of a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 chair at the same institution.

Institutions are also encouraged to establish clear criteria on how they determine whether to submit a chair for renewal to the program, and to communicate these criteria to chairholders at the beginning of their terms.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention

This living best practices document provides guidance for promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in the policies and procedures for recruiting, hiring and supporting faculty. The document collects the best practices of Canadian and international institutions, which are reinforced by current research that indicates how best to cultivate an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment. It is not a list of requirements; rather, it is a tool for institutions to use as they determine how best to address any areas for improvement identified when assessing their work environments. Institutions are also encouraged to use these best practices, as applicable, to help meet their equity and diversity targets within the program.

Exemplary equity and diversity practices recognition process

The Secretariat has an annual equity recognition process to acknowledge institutions for their progress towards exemplary practices in recruiting, nominating and/or appointing Canada Research Chairs, and for meeting their equity and diversity targets for representation from the four designated groups among chairholders. Institutions are encouraged to share their best practices with the Secretariat and with other institutions.

Expectations and Guidelines for the peer review process

Unconscious bias training module

This online module is mandatory for governance and peer review committees. It explains what unconscious bias is, outlines how it can affect the peer review process and suggests ways to mitigate the influence of unconscious bias. Institutions may also use the module to meet the requirement as per the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, that all faculty and staff involved in the recruitment and nomination of chairholders receive unconscious bias training.

Guidelines for reference letter writers

These guidelines provide information for letter writers to consider in limiting unconscious bias in the reference letters they provide for nominees to the program. Research has shown that, when compared to letters of recommendation for male applicants, those written for women were more likely to, among other issues, be shorter, include fewer “standout” adjectives and include more “doubt raisers.”

Guidelines for assessing the productivity of nominees

Peer reviewers must consider the key points listed in these guidelines when assessing applicant productivity. For example, reviewers must take into account legitimate career interruptions resulting from maternity, parental, medical or family medical leaves. The time devoted to these types of leaves must not be included in the assessment of their research productivity (i.e., if averaging academic output, do not include this time in the average). Applicants must also be encouraged to identify personal circumstances that have affected productivity.

Indirect Costs Related to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Objectives

The costs associated with implementing the institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion commitments are eligible expenses in the Research Support Fund Program. This includes, for example, costs of training on equity, diversity and inclusion issues; salaries of equity officers; and costs of collecting data on the participation in the program of the four designated groups.

Monitoring and Reporting

Monitoring of recruitment processes

The Secretariat monitors the adherence of institutions to the program’s recruitment and nomination guidelines, and reserves the right to ask institutions to provide, at any time within the 24 months following the nomination, documentation that attests that the process used to recruit chairholders was transparent, open and equitable. Refer to the Chairs Administration Guide for more information.

Establishing equity and diversity targets

All participating institutions must set equity and diversity targets to address the underrepresentation of members of the four designated groups among their chairholders. The program uses this data to monitor the institutions’ progress toward meeting their established targets.

Target-setting method

Note: This methodology is under review, and a revised version will be available in 2018-19.

The program’s targets are set using an availability approach. Availability is determined by estimating the representation of a designated group within the pool of potential nominees. The percentage of the estimated representation becomes the target to be met. The difference between this target and the percentage of current Chairs who are members of that designated group becomes the equity gap to be addressed.

Target-setting formula

Target (%) – Current Occupancy (%) = Equity Gap (%)

Active university researchers represent the pool of potential nominees. This is the preferred pool from which to establish targets. However, due to limits in the available statistical data, targets for some of the designated groups are set using approximations of the pools (See Table 2).

To establish targets for the number of women among chairholders, the program uses data regarding the participation of researchers in the grant competitions of the three federal research funding agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (see Table 1).

Table 1: Percentage of women applicants in the competitions of the three federal granting agencies (data updated in 2014) Footnote 1
Federal agency data NSERC CIHR SSHRC
Percentage of women applicants 21% 35% 45%

For the three other designated groups–Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities–the program establishes targets using data taken from other sources (See Table 2. Note that this data cannot be broken down by agency).


Table 2: Availability pool used for each target (data reviewed in 2011)
Available indicatorFootnote 2 Designated group Target
The proportion of university teachers that identify as IndigenousFootnote 3 Indigenous peoples 1%
The proportion of doctorate holders with a disabilityFootnote 4 Persons with disabilities 4%
The proportion of university teachers that can be designated a member of a visible minority group3 Members of visible minorities 15%

Target-setting reporting tool

Institutions can use this target-setting tool to calculate their equity and diversity targets in order to review the effectiveness and impact of their strategies for addressing gaps.

Results of participating institutions

In the spirit of openness and transparency, the program is making public the results and findings of its target-setting exercise, while respecting the Privacy Act. Visit the Program Statistics page to see the latest results.

Program evaluations

As is the case for all federal government programs, the CRCP undergoes an evaluation every five years to monitor its effectiveness, efficiency and objectives. These evaluations also monitor the program for any systemic barriers that might prevent individuals from the four designated groups (women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and visible minorities) from participating in the program. Visit the Publications page for a list of the program’s evaluation reports.


Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy

The Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy is mandated to advise the governance committees and TIPS on implementing measures to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in all programs administered by TIPS. The committee also reviews the applications submitted to the annual equity recognition process and provides a recommendation to TIPS as to which institutions should be recognized.

The committee’s membership includes diverse stakeholders with a wide mix of backgrounds and competencies. When performing their duties, committee members consider current research, best practices and the various contextual factors in which the programs operate.

Training on equity, diversity and inclusion

Members of the governance committees and Secretariat staff regularly receive training on issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion, such as limiting unconscious bias and the “glass ceiling” effect.


If you have enquiries related to the Canada Research Chairs Program’s equity, diversity and inclusion practices, please contact:

Sally Booth
Policy and Performance Analyst, Canada Research Chairs Program

Chris Kelly
Manager, Canada Research Chairs Program



Footnote 1

Data includes: SSHRC Insight Grants (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), NSERC Discovery Grants (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), and CIHR Open Operating Grants (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14)

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Footnote 2

Based on self-identification

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Footnote 3

Source: Statistics Canada, CAUT Almanac, Table 2.20 Visible Minority, Aboriginal and Other Background of University Teachers, 2006. Statistics Canada, 2014, Semi-custom tabulation (contact CAUT).

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Footnote 4

Source: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2006 Employment Equity Data Report, Table 8 Population Showing Representation by Highest Degree, Certificate or Diploma for Women, Aboriginal Peoples, Visible Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities. Ottawa, 2006.

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