Equity and Diversity in Research & Innovation Working Group Report
The University of Toronto’s commitment to equity and diversity is central to its public mission as well as its devotion to the pursuit of excellence. One of the strategic objectives of our new Institutional Strategic Research Plan is a commitment to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) across research and innovation, and this objective will guide the work of the division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI).
Given the importance of EDI at the University, in 2017 I struck the Equity and Diversity in Research and Innovation Working Group. The Working Group was charged with providing VPRI with counsel and direction on strategies to foster a culture of EDI within U of T’s research and innovation activities, as well as advising on new requirements for equity action plans for some federal research programs (including the development of our CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan). The Working Group met regularly during 2017–18 and has provided me with their Final Report. I thank the members of the Working Group and the Chair, Professor Lori Ferris, Associate Vice‐President, Research Oversight & Compliance, for their efforts and their service to the University in producing this comprehensive and insightful Report.
The Report proposes forty-nine recommendations to support our commitment to excellence and EDI as related to external and internal research funding programs, honours and awards for faculty, and innovation and entrepreneurship. In particular, the recommendations highlight the need for VPRI to provide leadership in ensuring consistent EDI practices, increasing awareness of institutional actions, supporting education and resources, facilitating the collection and use of data, and promoting community partnerships in research involving underrepresented groups. The recommendations also call on the VPRI to engage with the Provost, the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, the academic divisions and affiliated hospitals, as well as the broader University community to implement EDI measures to attract and retain diverse and excellent researchers among both faculty members and trainees, foster flexible working conditions that accommodate personal circumstances, and create an inclusive environment.
I accept all the recommendations of the Report that are directed to my office and agree to work with relevant University officers on recommendations that are in the jurisdiction of those offices. The Working Group noted that the Report recommendations build on previous and ongoing work at the University to fulfill our shared responsibility to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment for faculty, staff, and students. The Report stressed that institutional work to address EDI at U of T should not happen in silos. Accordingly, my office is engaged in consultations with the Provost, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, Principals & Deans, and the Research Advisory Board in order to develop an implementation plan for EDI in research and innovation. We will work to coordinate with existing activities being carried out in other portfolios to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure consistency for our community.
Several of the recommendations of the Working Group relate to the building of capacity within VPRI to lead the implementation of the recommendations. Two recommendations point to the need for senior staffing within the VPRI portfolio. I am pleased to report our success in appointing a new Research Equity & Diversity Strategist, who will be responsible for guiding and supporting implementation of VPRI’s equity and diversity initiatives, with particular emphasis on facilitating the implementation of the Report recommendations and ensuring we meet the requirements of the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan in relation to the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program. The Strategist will work with key stakeholders across the University and affiliated hospitals and in consultation with other shared service offices and the leadership of the academic divisions. A new Partnerships Development Officer has also been appointed to provide proactive support in promoting community partnerships in research involving underrepresented groups, including Indigenous communities, as well in developing a long-term strategy to help us better assist our faculty who wish to build partner-based research programs.
Through the implementation of the recommendations and the continual examination and monitoring of practices, policies, and programs, we will work to integrate EDI principles within the University’s research and innovation activities as well as aligning the VPRI’s strategies with the broader initiatives at the University of Toronto.
Equity and Diversity in Research and Innovation (EDRI) Working Group
May 14, 2018
MEMBERS OF THE WORKING GROUP
Lori Ferris, Chair, Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance and
Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, STG
Caroline Fusco, Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, STG
Bryan Gaensler, Director, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, STG
Sarah Kaplan, University of Toronto Distinguished Professor of Gender & the Economy, Rotman, STG
Alison Keith, Director, Jackman Humanities Institute, STG
Anna Korteweg, Chair, Department of Sociology, UTM
Renée J. Miller, Professor, Department of Computer Science, STG
Keren Rice, University Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, STG
Lisa Robinson, Professor, Department of Paediatrics and Faculty of Medicine Chief Diversity Officer, STG
Paula Rochon, Vice President, Research, Women’s College Hospital and Professor, Faculty of Medicine
Bryan Stewart, Vice-Principal Research, UTM
Stephannie Roy, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation
Andrea Russell, Director, Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life
1. MESSAGE FROM THE EQUITY AND DIVERSITY IN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION WORKING GROUP
The University of Toronto is committed to excellence in achieving our academic mission as we strive for a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. The Working Group believes that if we broaden where we look and how we look for excellent scholars, we will increase the involvement of diverse groups in research and innovation activities, in Vice President Research and Innovation (VPRI) portfolio adjudication activities, and more generally expand the richness of our academic community. The Recommendations in this Report are intended to address this commitment to excellence, diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
Our Working Group was struck by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation in June 2017. The Recommendations from this Working Group build on previous and ongoing work at the
University of Toronto (U of T) to fulfill our shared responsibility to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive community for faculty, staff and students.
The Working Group was asked to (see Appendix A for the full terms of reference):
“provide the Vice-President, Research and Innovation with counsel and direction on matters relating to equity, diversity and inclusion within the University of Toronto’s research and innovation enterprise. Working in synergy with initiatives in other portfolios (e.g., Vice-President and Provost, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity), the EDRI will advise on new requirements for equity action plans for some federal research programs and on strategies to foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion within U of T’s research and innovation activities”
The Working Group spent the first part of its time providing advice on the development of the University’s Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and the new Institutional Strategic Research Plan, 2018-23. The next phase of its work was to make Recommendations related to external and internal research funding programs, awards and honours for faculty, and innovation and entrepreneurship.
The need for quality data specific to U of T underpins many of the Working Group’s Recommendations and we have made specific Recommendations to facilitate collection and use. Unfortunately, there is an absence of U of T data but this should not hinder moving forward on the Recommendations. It will take time to collect and use data, and in the meantime, the Working Group encourages the use of whatever data we have and other sources of information (e.g. literature, work done in the divisions). The Working Group realizes that collecting the data needed to truly move forward on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is not easy, in part as many people may not wish to self-identify. To facilitate the collection of data, one of our recommendations is for the VPRI to mount a high-profile campaign with a strong presence on the new VPRI portfolio website, to encourage researchers to complete the University’s diversity survey and participate in other surveys or forms of data collection pertaining to EDI in research and innovation. We believe that faculty, students and staff will be more likely to participate in data collection efforts if they clearly understand why this information is important and how the data will be protected and used.
While there needs to be continual effort on the part of the University to focus on the Canada Research Chair (CRC) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, we need to be ready for other Tri-Agency efforts to increase equity, diversity and inclusion. NSERC is now moving toward having advancement of EDI as one of its selection criteria for the Discovery grants and other programs (see here for more information). Our Recommendations should help in positioning the VPRI for this future. The Working Group is very supportive of the new VPRI portfolio position that was awarded in the 2018 budget to particularly support the implementation of the CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
The Working Group is impressed with many initiatives at the university that promote EDI. It is not possible to catalogue all of these measures. However, the Working Group would like to highlight some that seem the most related to our work; these are noted in our Report. We also recognize that local initiatives are pivotal as they can be strategically designed to address inequities or relevant issues. We encourage departments and divisions to develop their own mechanisms to address local EDI concerns.
Implementing the Recommendations will take both time and resources. To maintain leadership in the area of EDI in research and innovation, the VPRI will need to prioritize the Recommendations. The VPRI has already made a significant commitment to EDI by including it as a strategic objective in the 2018-2023 Institutional Strategic Research Plan and with this in mind, we encourage timely implementation of our Recommendations.
2. INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
The EDRI Working Group is guided by the University of Toronto’s Statement on Equity, Diversity and Excellence, which recognizes that:
“Our teaching, scholarship and other activities take place in the context of a highly diverse society. Reflecting this diversity in our own community is uniquely valuable to the University as it contributes to the diversification of ideas and perspectives and thereby enriches our scholarship, teaching and other activities.”
“An equitable and inclusive working and learning environment creates the conditions for our diverse staff and student body to maximize their creativity and their contributions, thereby supporting excellence in all dimensions of the institution.”
The terms of reference for the Working Group are to examine equity and diversity within research and innovation. As the literature refers to equity, diversity and inclusion, the Working Group adopted inclusion in its work.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The Working Group has adopted a broad definition of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to inform its Recommendations that encompasses the groups captured by the University’s updated diversity survey – gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and ethno-cultural identity. The Working Group also recognizes that individuals are socially defined in many ways in terms of gender, race, ability, religion, Indigenous identity and sexual orientation, and that there is overlap and intersections within these identities. In our Recommendations we refer to EDI for groups for whom we are seeking equity. We emphasize both the need to better represent the diversity of our community in the Greater Toronto Area and recognize that people who identify with one or more of the interacting categories of women, Indigenous people, racialized persons/persons of colour, LGBTQ+ persons, and persons with disabilities need to be full participants in research and innovation at U of T. Inclusion is foundational to a truly equitable and diverse working and learning environment and allows researchers to fully realize their aspirations.
We recognize that this lens is broader than the designated groups used in Federal programs. The Federal programs have four designated groups: women, Indigenous/Aboriginal persons, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. It is understood that the University is required to collect information about these designated groups for the Federal programs and the EDRI Working Group recognizes this obligation in its Recommendations. This Working Group was planned before the federal government’s announcement of required institutional Canada Research Chair (CRC) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans. The review of the University’s Action Plan was an important aspect of the Group’s work and we view initiatives specific to CRCs as being important for research and innovation more broadly at U of T. We hope our Recommendations will be foundational to meeting our CRC Action Plan goals. Yet, we believe that fully addressing EDI requires moving beyond the four categories put forth by the government.
The Working Group adopted the following definitions to guide our work:
Equity is the fair and respectful treatment of all people and involves the creation of opportunities and reduction of disparities in opportunities and outcomes for diverse communities. It also acknowledges that these disparities are rooted in historical and contemporary injustices and disadvantages.
Diversity is the demographic mix of the university community and involves recognizing and respecting everyone’s unique qualities and attributes, but focuses particularly on groups that remain underrepresented at U of T.
Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and respected, focusing on groups that remain underrepresented at U of T. It means creating the conditions to have the opportunity to fully participate in the University, and where everyone’s talents are valued and celebrated. It is important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group is not always inclusive. An inclusive University strives for equity, and respects, accepts and values difference.
Collectively, these are referred to as EDI in this report. These Recommendations build on previous and ongoing work at the University of Toronto to fulfill our shared responsibility to build an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment for faculty, staff and students.
VPRI Leadership through its Internal Programs
The Vice-President, Research & Innovation portfolio (VPRI) manages a number of processes, such as the administration of internal funding programs (e.g. Connaught Innovation Award and Connaught New Faculty Award), internal awards (e.g. the President’s Impact Awards) and institutional nominations for external awards and honours and funding programs (e.g. Canada Foundation for Innovation-CFI) that require adjudication and peer-review.
- That the VPRI ensure that internal adjudication committees include a diverse membership of underrepresented groups while being mindful that this can lead to disproportionate requests of diverse researchers and add to their administrative responsibilities.
- That the VPRI adopt a requirement that applicant pools and shortlists for internal research awards and internal funding competitions have a number of qualified candidates from underrepresented groups.
- If this is not possible, a detailed explanation for why a diverse candidate pool was not achieved should be reported to the VPRI.
- If the pool is not sufficiently diverse to meet this requirement, and there is no valid explanation why there is not a diverse pool, the competition should re-opened or cancelled.
- The EDI Standing Committee (Recommendation 40) should develop guidelines for waiving the requirement for a diverse applicant pool or diverse adjudication committee.
- The decision to re-open or cancel a competition should rest with the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.
- The expectation that a diverse pool of applicants is a requirement for these competitions should be widely communicated to academic administrators. They should be regularly encouraged to nominate researchers from underrepresented groups for these competitions.
- In advance of these competitions, the VPRI should determine which groups have been underrepresented in similar competitions and use this as a consideration in the development of systematic processes to encourage applications/nominations from diverse groups.
- That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources to support internal programs. See Section C.
VPRI Leadership in Ensuring Consistent Practice
While championing EDI by senior University leaders is important and necessary, the Working Group also recognizes that creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment at U of T is a shared responsibility and that many initiatives require local leadership and local uptake to ensure success.
- That the VPRI include EDI as a regular agenda item at the Research Advisory Board (RAB) meetings. The purpose is to provide a forum for divisional leaders to share initiatives and successes related to EDI. The VPRI should support this agenda item by coordinating and circulating materials.
- That the VPRI encourages the members of its RAB to be champions of EDI by, for example,
- Requiring RAB members to undertake effective training on best practices in peer review and unconscious bias;
- Requesting annual reporting on Divisional EDI initiatives related to programs administered by the VPRI including Canada Research Chairs (CRCs), Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC), Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), etc.
- That the VPRI work closely with its RAB to develop guidelines on research-related resources and support offered at the time of appointment. As these requirements vary across the institution, these guidelines should require the creation of Divisional guidelines and outline the common elements to be addressed at the Divisional level. This should include the need for Divisional guidelines on, but not be limited to, the following:
- Allocation of lab/research space;
- Start-up funds, equipment etc.;
- Additional research supports such as commitments to assign a research mentor or to periodic, individualized meetings with new faculty to focus on research-related planning and opportunities;
- Comparison to appropriate faculty in the Department/Division and a justification for the proposed support package;
- A process for Decanal/Provostial review of these elements as part of the approval process for faculty appointments: http://www.aapm.utoronto.ca/appointments.
- That the VPRI work closely with the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network Research Committee (TAHSNr) on the implementation of the U of T Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan in the hospitals.
- That the VPRI identify and work closely with individuals in any Division who have EDIfocused roles related to research and innovation, to ensure consistency and to collaborate where appropriate.
- That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources to help ensure consistent processes. See Section C.
VPRI Leadership in EDI Education and EDI Resources
The Working Group recognizes that there are many efforts across the University to develop EDI education and EDI resources. While we are recommending the VPRI develop and implement EDI education and EDI resources, we assume there will be coordination and sharing among the various portfolios. However, we do believe that there are specific needs for our research and innovation community that require the expertise of the VPRI portfolio and therefore we are recommending a suite of resources and in-person education sessions by the VPRI to help with the successful implementation of our Recommendations.
- That the VPRI require that all faculty and staff involved in internal review processes participate in, or have equivalent effective training on best practices in, peer review and unconscious bias.
- That the VPRI maintain a list of suitable internal and external materials/ modules/ training programs that can be used to fulfil the requirement for training on best practices in peer review and unconscious bias. These materials should be reviewed by the EDI standing committee (see Recommendation 40.)
- That the VPRI develop EDI education and EDI resources for research and innovation for the following:
- For use in existing programs for academic administrators (e.g. the VPRI annual special meeting with academic administrators / PDAD&C) and administrative staff (e.g., STaR).
- For researchers for emerging EDI requirements within the Tri-Council funding programs and requirements by other sponsors.
- For those with, or applying for, major grants and funding programs such as Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) and Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). Any EDI education should be delivered as needed to Departments and Divisions developing required Action Plans for these proposals and for those wishing to implement Action Plans more generally (possibly in preparation for future funding competitions). The Working Group believes the EDI education should be a requirement for faculty and staff directly involved in these initiatives.
- That the VPRI staff have portfolio-specific training related to their broad areas of work that helps staff integrate practices related to fostering EDI into their work, and their interactions with the university community and the public.
EDI Resource Development:
- That the VPRI create resources on best practices in awards/research nomination processes/competitions for use within the VPRI portfolio and for the academic divisions. This would focus on striking an awards committee, how to encourage and support submissions from diverse nominees, how to develop appropriate evaluation criteria, etc.
- That the VPRI develop a best practices in peer-review document for distribution to all members of VPRI adjudication committees before they begin their reviews. Initially this could be compiled from our Working Group Recommendations, participants in the U of T TIDE program and other suggestions from U of T community.
- That the VPRI work closely with the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, to develop and provide the Research Advisory Board (RAB) with materials about recruiting diverse faculty (e.g. Strategies for Recruiting an Excellent & Diverse Faculty Complement and materials related to the Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (U of T, CRC best practices). The VPRI should encourage the membership to implement these in their Divisions. [If these materials are already distributed by the Provost’s office, that the VPRI discuss them at RAB and relate them to the VPRI priorities.]
- That the VPRI create guidelines for event planning using an inclusion lens. These should be required for events which are sponsored by the VPRI and/or where the VPRI is actively involved in the planning. The VPRI could work in collaboration with other portfolios that host events to develop and implement University-wide guidelines.
- That the VPRI, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-President and Provost and Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, develop resources for research-specific accommodations at U of T for faculty, staff and student researchers with disabilities.
- That the VPRI, working closely with U of T Indigenous researchers and the Director of Indigenous Initiatives, create materials specific to developing collaborative research partnerships with Indigenous communities.
- That the VPRI require that all faculty and staff involved in internal review processes participate in, or have equivalent effective training on best practices in, peer review and unconscious bias.
VPRI Leadership in Facilitating the Collection and Use of Data
Reports and data about underrepresented groups in academia both in Canada and internationally are multitudinous and ever growing. However, there is sparse data specifically about faculty and researchers at U of T, particularly Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and racialized persons beyond the annual Employment Equity Report that tracks self-identification data of U of T employees. A new initiative in the current 2016-2017 Report includes information on the intersecting, multiple identities of the U of T workforce that will permit better analyses over time. More detailed information about women faculty is available in the U of T Gender Equity Report. Data is not generally available on the representation of these groups in research and innovation-related activities administered within the VPRI beyond the Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and some data on Tri-Agency funding awarded to women.
Data are available for Canada Research Chairs (CRCs), based on voluntary self-identification as part of the CRC nomination process. Currently (as of December 2017) the proportion of CRCs from the federally-designated groups is: women, 38%, racialized persons (visible minorities), 15%, Indigenous people, 1% and persons with disabilities, less than 1%. U of T is meeting federal targets for women and Indigenous people but more work needs to be done. One of the challenges for this Federal program and for the VPRI is finding ways to encourage and support people self-identifying.
- That the VPRI mount a high-profile campaign to encourage researchers to complete the University’s diversity survey and participate in VPRI portfolio surveys or other forms of data collection pertaining to EDI in research and innovation. This recommendation is expanded on in Section E.
- That the VPRI include an EDI lens in data collection and analysis conducted on Divisional research and innovation activities and wherever possible, integrate diversity survey data and other relevant EDI data into its reports.
- That the VPRI share aggregated equity and diversity data on internal programs with Divisions (where possible) so Divisional leaders can assess local progress towards EDI in such areas as awards and honours nominations, success with Connaught funding, internal grants, disclosures and patents, etc.
Facilitating the Collection of Data:
- That the VPRI develop processes to encourage researchers to self-identify through the U of T’s Diversity Survey as part of the administration of its programs and processes (e.g. internal programs, awards and honours, grant applications, invention disclosures) [See Section E] and that aggregated data be compiled to better understand the characteristics of faculty researchers and their endeavours. This data collection is now a requirement for the Canada Research Chair process and similar data collection methods should be adopted more widely within the VPRI.
- That the VPRI explore using My Research Applications (MRA) to address EDI requirements within grant applications and to remind researchers to complete the University’s Diversity Survey. The MRA system could offer relevant EDI prompts and provide links to relevant EDI information. If EDI is added as a strategic objective to the current research themes in MRA, then EDI research would be captured and that information used for tracking of EDI as strategic priority within the U of T Institutional Strategic Research Plan.
Facilitating the Use of Data:
- That the VPRI, in consultation with the Manager, Data Governance (Planning and Budget), develop data governance protocols for collecting, sharing, and using equity and diversity data that addresses data access, acceptable sharing and uses, and appropriate protection before data is collected.
- That the VPRI create an advisory group on EDI data collection and governance. This group could include faculty, staff and academic administrators and advise Research Advisory Board (RAB) on available data sources, data analysis etc. This group should advise on strategies and/or protections regarding disaggregated data, mechanisms to manage small cell sizes and voluntary self-identification.
VPRI Leadership in Increasing Awareness of Institutional Actions
Current and on-going support from senior leadership is critical to the success of EDI measures. It is also important that the University community is aware of institutional actions surrounding EDI through regular communication via various channels. Local initiatives are critical to addressing EDI at U of T but this change should not happen in silos. The institution benefits when initiatives are documented and shared, enabling other members of the community to build upon these successes.
- That the VPRI create a high-profile campaign to promote EDI in research and innovation at U of T. This should include, but not be limited to the following:
- A significant digital presence on the new VPRI portfolio website highlighting communication initiatives recommended below, EDI education opportunities and EDI resources, etc.
- Materials to encourage researchers to complete the University’s diversity survey and participate in other VPRI EDI data collection efforts. These should include information about how data will be collected and managed, privacy and anonymity provisions, etc.
- Messages about why EDI is important to research and innovation excellence at the University of Toronto. Having high profile academics on the webpage with interviews, webinars and fact sheets about their initiatives would be helpful.
- That working closely with the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, Research Advisory Board (RAB), equity officers and others at U of T, the VPRI collect and communicate materials, initiatives and other resources related to EDI to the University community as these relate to research and innovation as part of the campaign. This can build on information being collected as part of the Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
- That the VPRI report on its activities related to EDI as part of the Research and Innovation Annual Report.
- That the VPRI work with University of Toronto Communications (UTC) to develop U of T News stories profiling successful projects and initiatives related to EDI in research and innovation. These stories should be appropriately tagged and archived so others looking for successful measures can access them.
- That the VPRI work with the Division of University Advancement (DUA) to ensure that research and innovation stories aimed at U of T alumni promote EDI and strive to ensure a diverse representation of researchers.
- That the VPRI, working closely with the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity publicize the procedures in place for accommodations for researchers with disabilities or illness and how central divisions work together to provide accommodations for students and employees. These communications should also explicitly address mental illness and other “invisible” disabilities that are experienced by our community. (See Section C for Recommendations related to educational resources).
- That the VPRI consider making a future submission for the Canada Research Chair (CRC) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Award as it implements the University of Toronto CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
- That the VPRI create a high-profile campaign to promote EDI in research and innovation at U of T. This should include, but not be limited to the following:
VPRI Leadership in Promoting Community Partnerships in research involving Underrepresented Groups
Research by and with Indigenous people was one area examined in the University’s Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Some of those Recommendations are currently being implemented by the VPRI. This Working Group wishes to highlight and emphasize that this important work needs to continue. We also note that research by and with Indigenous communities involves long-term relationship building to foster meaningful collaborations based on respect, reciprocity, and the active engagement of the Indigenous community involved in the research. Similarly, research with other underrepresented groups may involve community partnerships and the need to build similar collaborations. This kind of research involving partnerships can take considerable time to cultivate, the results may take longer to publish, and the work may not follow traditional scholarly pathways.
- That the VPRI continue working on implementing the research and innovation related Recommendations from the Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. [See Appendix B]
- That the VPRI collect feedback from U of T Indigenous researchers and those doing research with Indigenous communities on areas such as research ethics, research funding, and Indigenous-related research grants to help inform the VPRI on its strategic direction for strengthening Indigenous research at U of T. This feedback should be communicated to external partners where appropriate.
- That the VPRI work with the Research Advisory Board (RAB) to better promote community partnership opportunities such as SSHRC partnership grants to U of T researchers.
- That, working closely with Divisions and the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, the VPRI explore ways to recognize research based in community partnerships including working with U of T Communications to feature these in news stories.
- That the VPRI consider the creation of a community engagement award or internal funding program for community-based research.
- That the VPRI consider having the new VPRI Partnership Development Officer work with the EDI standing committee (see Recommendation 40) to integrate EDI principles into partnerships.
- That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources related to community partnership research with underrepresented groups and research with Indigenous communities. See Section C.
Ensuring VPRI Continued Leadership
The Working Group commends the Vice-President, Research and Innovation for convening the Working Group and focussing on EDI. Research and experience have shown that continuous attention to issues of EDI are required to sustain current measures and to continue to make progress. Making EDI a strategic priority in the current Institutional Strategic Research Plan is one way to signal to the university community this sustained commitment. We encourage others to make similar commitments like those made in the OISE Academic Plan 2017-2022 which includes a number of “focusing themes” that embrace EDI including a Commitment to Indigenization; Wellbeing and Mental Health; and Equity, Diversity and Accessibility. These encompass both areas of research and pedagogy but also initiatives for faculty, staff and students.
- That the VPRI create a standing Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research and Innovation with similar membership to this Working Group. This committee would be advisory to the Research Advisory Board (RAB).
- That the VPRI ensure there are adequate senior strategic staff to lead the implementation of these Recommendations.
- VPRI Role in Communicating “Foundational” Recommendations to other Senior PortfoliosThe Working Group is aware of its responsibility to provide Recommendations on EDI within research and innovation. The Recommendations in Sections A-G are specific to the VPRI portfolio. However, in order for the University to be successful in its Canada Research Chair Action Plan under the leadership of the VPRI, and for the VPRI to be fully successful in implementing the Recommendations in this Report, the continued efforts of other senior portfolios are crucial.
Recruitment of diverse faculty is foundational to achieving goals of EDI in research and innovation at U of T.
- That the Office of the Vice-President and Provost and Divisional leaders encourage proactive recruitment strategies that will attract a diverse and excellent applicant pool and ensure all applicants are fairly assessed in the recruitment process. This includes:
- Considering changes to the template wording in faculty recruitment advertisements to encourage applications from diverse candidates.
- Making changes to the wording of the U of T standard boilerplate diversity wording. The wording makes little difference to the applicant pool. EDI wording needs to be relevant to the position and integrated into postings as a desirable qualification for faculty.
Supporting the next generation of researchers
The Working Group asserts that fundamental changes to the representation of diverse researchers will be slow without meaningful efforts to ensure that underrepresented groups are supported during their time as students and trainees through to recruitment as the next generation of faculty and as mid-career researchers. For example, the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering has appointed their first Dean’s Advisor on Black Inclusivity Initiatives and Student Inclusion and Transition Mentor. Their role is to work with faculty, staff and students to collect baseline data and develop immediate and longer-term strategies to create a more welcoming environment for Black students and to encourage more Black students to pursue Engineering and other STEM programs.
- That the VPRI, in its collaboration with the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, on integrating research and innovation in the student curricular and co-curricular experience:
- Develop initiatives and strategies to encourage underrepresented students to pursue research and innovation opportunities.
- Develop resources for faculty using the online research opportunities catalogue on how to create postings that encourage diverse and underrepresented students to pursue these research and innovation opportunities.
- Ensure that tracking of students’ participation include assessments of EDI.
- That the VPRI work with the School of Graduate Studies on awards strategy and nomination best practices for graduate student and postdoctoral awards such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.
- That the Office of the Vice-President and Provost include EDI discussions in its workshops for early and mid-career faculty. Similar sessions for academic administrators on preparing and supporting faculty throughout the academic lifecycle should also be offered.
Flexible work arrangements
The Working Group discussed the caregiving responsibilities that still tend to fall to women, while noting that men are more likely to engage in caregiving of children, disabled family members and aging parents than previous generations. These responsibilities can present significant challenges to researchers who are balancing research programs that may involve labs, field work and/or travel with caring for children and other family members.
Local and/or discipline-specific initiatives are also important for researchers with caring responsibilities. For example, The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology provides new parents up to one full year of post-doc support (about $45-50K, pro-rated for shorter leaves) to assist faculty on maternity or parental leave with costs and labour related to maintaining a lab or research project while on leave. Parents can use the funds for the post-doc or any other research personnel that suits their needs. The funds are contingent on them actually taking the leave (and not being on campus). The Working Group encourages the sharing and promotion of these initiatives in hopes they inspire other units to consider their own measures for researchers.
- That the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, further communicate existing arrangements and benefits at U of T to academic administrators, faculty and researchers about maternity and parental leave, family care leave and compassionate leaves. The services provided by the Family Care Office should also be promoted, including their workshops and information on these issues and concerns.
Assessing the Climate
Measuring and assessing the climate for faculty and researchers helps determine where change is needed and what measures are working. The Working Group was impressed with the Department of Medicine’s work under the direction of the Vice-Chair Mentorship, Equity and Diversity. They conduct a faculty survey every 2-3 years, as part of a longitudinal plan to monitor faculty academic culture. The results assist the Department in determining where change is needed. Participation in this survey is voluntary, and the information collected is treated in strict confidence. Survey data is securely collected, merged with Departmental census demographic information, and stripped of personally identifying information for analysis and storage. Analysis is conducted anonymously and in aggregate only.
- That the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, in consultation with the VPRI (to ensure research-related information is included), collect data through interviews, focus groups, surveys etc. of faculty and researchers to better understand issues related to EDI at U of T The anonymized information obtained from these endeavours should be widely shared to inform our community about EDI and to allow for strategic plans to respond to what is learned.
- That the senior leadership consider participating in a program such as Athena SWAN or SEA Change to encourage and recognize EDI. Ideally, any such accreditation program should embrace intersectionality and not focus on one underrepresented group.
- That the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, in collaboration with the Office of the VPRI and the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, develop and communicate a unified message to faculty and staff about EDI (e.g., gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and ethno-cultural identity) to reinforce the message that this diversity in our own community is uniquely valuable to the University.
Appendix A – Equity and Diversity in Research and Innovation Working Group Terms of Reference
The Equity & Diversity in Research & Innovation Working Group (EDRI) will provide the Vice-President, Research and Innovation with counsel and direction on matters relating to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within the University of Toronto’s research and innovation enterprise. Working in synergy with initiatives in other portfolios (e.g., Vice-President and Provost, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity), the EDRI will advise on new requirements for equity action plans for some federal research programs and on strategies to foster a culture of EDI within U of T’s research and innovation activities.
Terms of Reference
- The EDRI will provide advice and guidance to the Vice-President Research & Innovation on equity matters related to research and innovation including:
- Canada Research Chairs (CRC) & Canadian Excellence Research Chairs (CERC)
- Research funding (e.g. CFI, CFREF)
- Internal programs (e.g. Connaught)
- Awards and honours
- Researcher recruitment and retention
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Appointment of faculty to the Working Group is made by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation with advice from the Vice-President and Provost and may include senior academic leaders (e.g. Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life) in an advisory capacity.
- It is expected that the Working Group will have an initial meeting in the spring 2017 and continue to meet in the fall. It is anticipated that mandate will be for one year, with a final Report in the spring of 2018.
- The Working Group may create subgroups to investigate particular topics in more depth. Appropriate VPRI staff will be available to support these subgroups as needed.
- Members of the Working Group will advise on an implementation strategy to ensure increased awareness of equity and diversity issues in research and innovation in our community.
- The Working Group Report and Recommendations and will be received by the Research Advisory Board (RAB) through the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.
Appendix B – Research-related Recommendations from the Final Report of the Steering Committee for the U of T Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)
The Working Group believes that implementation of the research-related recommendations from the Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (“TRC”) will further EDI at U of T.
The Working Group has included the research-related recommendations from the TRC in this Appendix and ask that it be understood that the Working Group strongly supports the TRC recommendations and considers timely implementation of the TRC recommendations as being critical to EDI.
Below are the verbatim recommendations from the TRC that are research-related.
Recommendations from the Final Report:
The Vice-President, Research and Innovation should work with other universities, in close collaboration with the granting councils, to convene a joint committee to consider the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, its application to research involving Indigenous peoples and communities, and the fit with existing research funding programs of the granting councils.
The Provost and the Vice-President, Research and Innovation should oversee the development of research training modules that recognize historical patterns of unethical research in and with Indigenous communities. Specific cultural and research ethics training should be made available to any scholar seeking to work in an Indigenous community.
The University should consider the creation of a Research Ethics Board sub-committee focussed solely on Indigenous-related research. The sub-committee would be tasked to develop a protocol for coordinating the ethical review with Indigenous communities.
Recommendations from the Indigenous Research Ethics and Community Relationships Working Group:
Invest in education for those engaged in agreements with Indigenous communities on behalf of faculty members and U of T. It is important that interested parties learn how to facilitate negotiation and understand issues that are potentially quite sensitive and be open and engaging. The Working Group believes that it is important to deliver this education within the academic divisions and the central office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, to ensure they have the tools to promote Indigenous-related research (Note: the permanent central office can be a major resource for this education).
Ensure that new faculty hires at U of T who are doing Indigenous research have adequate startup funds for commencing ethical and respectful research studies. The key here is to optimise the conditions for success for University faculty hires.
Take a leadership role in advocating for grant funds for pilot work (e.g. seed grants) in support of Indigenous-related research as well as for funding to facilitate Indigenous linguistic and cultural translation for research dissemination, knowledge transfer and exchange, and knowledge translation.
Examine why the Canadian Institutes of Health Research disbanded its standing peer-review committee on Indigenous-specific research, and advocate for an alternative for the various granting agencies, if this proves to be important.
Collect feedback from researchers about how research agencies can improve their views on the peer-review system and the evaluation of Indigenous-related research grants and use this information to advocate for change in the research granting councils. U of T must be willing to take these concerns forward using an approach that is respectful of Indigenous scholarship and one that does not perpetuate the Eurocentric lenses.
Establish accountability mechanisms at U of T to monitor and evaluate how well the University is doing in prioritizing and advancing Indigenous related-research.
Incorporate content addressing the history of unethical research on Indigenous people in Canada into all research ethics training for students and faculty.
Ensure that training and orientation materials specifically address the Canadian context, underscoring ethically dubious research in the past and ways of avoiding similar mistakes in the future.
Explore with Indigenous communities whether there should be a two-pronged approach to ethics review involving the specific Indigenous communities and the U of T’s REBs. The aim would be for the University REBs not to review a protocol until after the community is satisfied with the ethics of it. Such a system will need to be sensitive to the mandate of each of the two ethical review processes and be coordinated in some way so that researchers and communities are not delayed.
- University of Toronto Governing Council. Statement on Equity, Diversity and Excellence. December 14, 2006. ↩
- University of Toronto Employment Equity Report, 2016-2017 ↩
- These are the four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act ↩
- Underrepresented groups may spend more time on administrative service and also invisible labour such as mentoring students or junior faculty. ↩
- Research has shown that having only one member of an underrepresented group on shortlists does not increase the likelihood that an underrepresented person will be hired. ↩
- This document would outline fair and equitable processes cited in the literature (for example Trix & Psenka, 2003) and resources such as those available at: http://www.faculty.utoronto.ca/resources/enhancing-diversity/unconscious-bias-education/ ↩
- TIDE–Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence—was launched in Fall 2017. This program ensures that trained faculty facilitators are available to attend divisional meetings to facilitate discussion of Unconscious Bias. Representatives from a cohort of twenty-five faculty members are available to meet with any type of faculty group or committee seeking guidance on bias and how it may impact their work. ↩
- An example of an inclusion lens can be found at: http://inclusionlens.yorku.ca/ ↩
- Examples of U of T resources for student academic accommodations: Demystifying Academic Accommodations and What faculty need to know about accommodating students. ↩
- An example of voluntary self-identification is a question asking applicants to Ontario universities to voluntarily identify as Indigenous. This information is disclosed (with the student’s consent) to the universities where the student applies so they can offer services and supports and special programs (including specific admission streams). This data may also be reported in aggregate by universities to the provincial government. The Council of Ontario Universities Aboriginal Self-Identification Project provides additional information on voluntary self-identification in Ontario universities. ↩
- The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented? ↩
- U of T 2012 COACHE survey responses indicated the need for these resources and workshops. ↩