Equity Practices

Commitment to Equity
Actions Taken
Open, Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process
Monitoring of Recruitment Processes
Establishing Equity Targets
Results of Participating Institutions
Exemplary Equity Practices Recognition Process
Advisory Committee on Equity Policy

Commitment to Equity

The Canada Research Chairs Program is committed to excellence in research and research training and to ensuring access to opportunities for all qualified candidates. The goals of excellence and equity are both compatible and mutually supporting. Sound equity practices ensure that the Chairs program accesses the largest possible pool of qualified candidates, without affecting the integrity of the program’s selection process. The Chairs program is committed to the federal government’s policies on non-discrimination and employment equity.

The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) works collaboratively with institutions to identify and further share strategies and practices that respect the spirit of openness, transparency and equity of the program.

Open Letter to University Presidents from the Canada Research Chairs Program


Actions Taken

The Secretariat has taken several actions to ensure that all qualified researchers have access to, and opportunities to participate in, the program. These actions include:

  • collecting and monitoring, through the nomination forms, self-identification information on the status of nominees and Chair recipients in four designated groups: women, persons with a disability, Aboriginal Peoples, and visible minorities;
  • providing ongoing training on equity and systemic discrimination solutions to all program employees;
  • including equity considerations within the program’s peer review guidelines;
  • conducting a gender-based analysis and a diversity-based analysis of the program;
  • including within program evaluations a review of systemic barriers to members of the four designated groups (see section 6.0 of the Tenth Year Evaluation Report);
  • establishing guidelines that articulate to participating institutions the program’s expectations with respect to a transparent, open and equitable recruitment and nomination process;
  • monitoring institutions’ adherence to the program’s recruitment and nomination guidelines;
  • working in collaboration with institutions to establish targets for representation from members of the four designated groups among their chairholders;
  • establishing a yearly process for recognizing universities with exemplary equity practices; and
  • establishing the Advisory Committee on Equity Policy, with a mandate to advise the Secretariat on equity issues.

Open, Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process

In collaboration with institutions, the Secretariat has established guidelines articulating the program’s expectations with respect to what a transparent, open and equitable process should entail. The Guidelines for Ensuring a Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process provide broad examples and principles related to the program’s recruitment, selection and nomination processes. This applies to the nomination of new Chairs, 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 that will be used to determine whether a chair will be submitted for renewal to the program and to communicate these criteria to chairholders at the beginning of their terms.

The Secretariat has also been involved in the identification of recruitment best practices for the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program. The document Recruitment Best Practices on the CERC website provides good examples of strategies that can be used to recruit candidates from outside the institution.

Monitoring of Recruitment Practices

The Secretariat monitors the adherence of institutions to the Chairs 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 which attests that the process used to recruit chairholders was transparent, open and equitable.

Establishing Equity Targets

All participating institutions must set equity targets to address the underrepresentation of members of the four designated groups among their chairholders. Every three years, institutions provide their equity target data to the Secretariat. The program uses this data to monitor the institutions’ progress toward meeting their established targets.

Target-setting method

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 equity 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 granting 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%


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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For the three other designated groups–Aboriginal Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities–the program establishes equity 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 indicator2 Designated group Target
The proportion of university teachers that identify as Aboriginal3 Aboriginal Peoples 1%
The proportion of doctorate holders with a disability4 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%


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, Employment Equity Data Report, Table 8 Highest Degree, Certificate or Diploma. Ottawa, 2006.

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Target-Setting Reporting Tool

Institutions can use this target-setting tool to calculate their equity 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. Access the data.

Exemplary Equity 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 targets for representation from the four designated groups among chairholders.

Advisory Committee on Equity Policy

The Advisory Committee on Equity Policy is mandated to advise the Secretariat on equity issues. The committee also reviews the applications submitted to the annual equity recognition process and provides a recommendation to the Secretariat as to which institutions should be recognized.


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

Marie-Lynne Boudreau
Manager, Canada Research Chairs Program
Tel.: 613-943-7989
Email: marie-lynne.boudreau@chairs-chaires.gc.ca

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