Memorial has launched its action plan to address equity targets for the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) in response to the plan set by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.
In a release this fall, Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science, said the “changes to the CRCP will encourage greater diversity in research and will show Canadians that they have a place in science no matter their gender, race or heritage.”
The national program has set hiring targets for universities among four designated groups: qualified women, visible minorities, Aboriginal Peoples and persons with disabilities.
Supporting diversity and equity
Memorial’s own action plan was developed by a subcommittee of the Employment Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee (EEDAC).
The subcommittee was established under the authority of the Vice-Presidents Council to advise that group on matters relating to diversity, equity and inclusion in employment.
The new action plan notes that, among other things, Memorial is committed to maintaining a welcoming and favourable work environment for all individuals; removing workplace barriers that negatively affect individuals or groups; supporting the creation of a diverse workforce; and providing community leadership as a progressive and equitable employer.
“Memorial is committed to raising awareness across our campuses of our commitment to and the benefits of equity, diversity and inclusion.”
The plan notes that Memorial will meet the equity targets and goals by December 2019.
“One of Memorial’s core values is inclusiveness and diversity — that is, embracing and acting on responsibility to guarantee diversity and equity,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), who is a former Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Offshore and Underwater Vehicles Design.
“Memorial is committed to raising awareness across our campuses of our commitment to and the benefits of equity, diversity and inclusion within the CRCP and the broader research enterprise. I am confident Memorial will meet the equity targets by December 2019, as set by the secretariat, and report on our progress annually.”
Dr. Michelle Ploughman, Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery, and a member of the EEDAC subcommittee, says the action plan is important.
“When I became a Canada Research Chair in 2014 I noticed that I was one of only two female chairs at Memorial University in a group of 10,” she told the Gazette.
“This concerned me because I felt university researchers and educators should reflect the make-up of Canada’s universities. Little did I know at that time that Memorial University was already working towards enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion across all hiring, including the Canada Research Chairs Program.
“When the Canada Research Chairs Program announced its requirements for equity, diversity and inclusion,” Dr. Ploughman continued, “Memorial University was well on its way in meeting equity targets and demonstrating improvement in representation of women, Aboriginal Peoples, and members of visible minorities.”
Dr. Ploughman says the university’s new plan will provide “concrete steps to meet and hopefully exceed equity targets here at Memorial.”
Strategy for the future
Dr. Faisal Khan, Canada Research Chair in Offshore Safety and Risk Engineering, and another member of the sub-committee, says the new action plan puts in place a strategy for Memorial.
“This subcommittee had an important task to develop an action plan that reflected Memorial’s continued commitment to be an equitable, diverse and inclusive research enterprise,” he said.
“This work will reassure Memorial as a true Canadian team — diverse and inclusive. I am proud to be part of this team.”
Tina Hickey, equity officer, Department of Human Resources, says the action plan enables Memorial to meet its equity targets for the CRCP and will strongly benefit efforts for ongoing Canada Research Chair recruitment.
She says the plan highlights and strengthens the profile of employment equity and diversity at Memorial.
“Part of my involvement with this process has included facilitating discussions on unconscious biases,” she said. “When screening candidates, it is important to pause, recognize and mitigate bias so that we can make better decisions.
“As the Employment Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee guides the development of our institutional employment equity and diversity plan in 2018,” Ms. Hickey added, “we can learn from the successes of Memorial’s Canada Research Chairs Program and work to address underrepresentation.”
More information about the Canada Research Chairs Program’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan is available online.
The Canada Research Chairs Program is administered at Memorial by CREAIT, CRC and CFI Services (CCCS). For questions or concerns related to the administration of the CRCP at Memorial, please contact CCCS director, Dr. Marlies Rise.