The CERC program is committed to excellence in research and research training and is promoting exemplary practices with respect to equity and diversity. The goals of research excellence can only be met when equity and diversity are integrated into the research initiative. In collaboration with participating institutions, the program is working to ensure that all recruitment practices for CERC positions are open, transparent and equitable. It is also working to ensure equitable access to opportunities available within the CERC teams.
The CERC program reflects the federal government’s commitment to equity and diversity in employment. It aims to ensure the appropriate representation of women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples and members of visible minorities. It recognizes that the previous two competitions resulted in the underrepresentation of these four designated groups, notably women.
In the first competition to allocate 20 chairs, no women were nominated for a CERC award. An independent inquiry was conducted on the issue, and specific measures were then taken to implement recruitment best practices that promote equity and diversity. While there was some improvement in the second competition, the government and program management’s expectations for adequate representation of women and other designated groups have not been met.
For the third competition, the steering committee that governs the program has introduced additional measures to ensure that equity and diversity will be given strong consideration and emphasis, consistent with the government’s expectations for a more gender-balanced and diverse set of CERC awardees.
The CERC program has taken several actions since it was launched in 2008 to promote access to the program for all qualified researchers. These actions include:
- requiring institutions to report on their recruitment process and outreach efforts as part of Phase 1 and Phase 2;
- ensuring that expert opinion on equity is gathered during the review and selection process;
- adding the quality of recruitment process in Phase 2 as a formal evaluation criterion;
- providing Recruitment Best Practices to institutions;
- ensuring that the program guidelines have been modified according to the recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Panel on CERC Gender Issues
- collecting and monitoring self-identification information—through nomination forms—on the status of nominees in four designated groups (women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples and members of visible minorities); and
- adding a new requirement that institutions include an equity plan focused on the CERC team in the Phase 1 application. In the equity plan provided, institutions must:
- outline how career and training benefits derived from the opportunities associated with the CERC initiative will be made available to the four designated groups (women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples and members of visible minorities);
- include performance measures with indicators, targets, and a monitoring and course-correction process; and
- describe to what extent they are meeting their institutional equity targets for the Canada Research Chairs Program, to illustrate their track record.