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EDIRI Recommendations

In 2017, the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, convened a Working Group on Equity & Diversity in Research & Innovation to provide the VPRI with guidance on strategies to foster equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across the University’s research and innovation activities, as well as to advise on EDI requirements for some federal funding programs. In September 2018, the Working Group issued a Report that included a series of 49 recommendations to support the University’s commitment to EDI and excellence in research and innovation. The Vice-President, Research and Innovation, accepted all the recommendations of the Report that are directed to this division and committed to working with relevant University officers on recommendations that are in the jurisdiction of those portfolios.

The VPRI is committed to accountability and transparency in tracking our progress in implementing these 49 recommendations. To see the status of each of these recommendations, please consult the sections below.

This page will be updated as we continue to act on these recommendations.

  1. That the VPRI ensure that internal adjudication committees include a diverse membership of under-represented groups while being mindful that this can lead to disproportionate requests of diverse researchers and add to their administrative responsibilities.
  2. 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 under-represented groups.
    1. If this is not possible, a detailed explanation for why a diverse candidate pool was not achieved should be reported to the VPRI.
    2. 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.
    3. The EDI Standing Committee (Recommendation 40) should develop guidelines for waiving the requirement for a diverse applicant pool or diverse adjudication committee.
    4. The decision to re-open or cancel a competition should rest with the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.
    5. 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 under-represented groups for these competitions.
  3. In advance of these competitions, the VPRI should determine which groups have been under-represented in similar competitions and use this as a consideration in the development of systematic processes to encourage applications/nominations from diverse groups.
  4. That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources to support internal programs. See Section C.
  1. 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.
  2. That the VPRI encourages the members of its RAB to be champions of EDI by, for example,
    1. Requiring RAB members to undertake effective training on best practices in peer review and unconscious bias;

    2. 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.
  3. 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:
    1. Allocation of lab/research space;
    2. Start-up funds, equipment etc.;
    3. 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;
    4. Comparison to appropriate faculty in the Department/Division and a justification for the proposed support package;
    5. A process for Decanal/Provostial review of these elements as part of the approval process for faculty appointments: http://www.aapm.utoronto.ca/appointments.
  4. 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.
  5. That the VPRI identify and work closely with individuals in any Division who have EDI-focused roles related to research and innovation, to ensure consistency and to collaborate where appropriate.
  6. Objective>That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources to help ensure consistent processes. See Section C.
  1. 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.
    1. 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.)
  2. That the VPRI develop EDI education and EDI resources for research and innovation for the following:
    1. 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).
    2. For researchers for emerging EDI requirements within the Tri-Council funding programs and requirements by other sponsors.
    3. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence (TIDE) program and other suggestions from U of T community.
  6. 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.]
  7. 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.
  8. That the VPRI, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-President and Provost and Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, develop resources for research-specific accommodations at U of T for faculty, staff and student researchers with disabilities.
  9. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. That the VPRI create an advisory group on EDI data collection and governancThis group could include faculty, staff and academic administrators and advise the 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.
  1. 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:
    1. A significant digital presence on the new VPRI portfolio website highlighting communication initiatives recommended below, EDI education opportunities and EDI resources, etc.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. That working closely with the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources & 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.
  2. That the VPRI report on its activities related to EDI as part of the Research and Innovation Annual Report.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. That the VPRI, working closely with the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources & 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).
  6. 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.
  1. 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 Canad
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. That the VPRI consider the creation of a community engagement award or internal funding program for community-based research.
  6. 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.
  7. That the VPRI create EDI education and EDI resources related to community partnership research with under-represented groups and research with Indigenous communities. See Section C.
  1. 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).
  2. That the VPRI ensure there are adequate senior strategic staff to lead the implementation of these Recommendations.
  1. 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:
    1. Considering changes to the template wording in faculty recruitment advertisements to encourage applications from diverse candidates.
    2. 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.
  2. 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:
    1. Develop initiatives and strategies to encourage under-represented students to pursue research and innovation opportunities.
    2. Develop resources for faculty using the online research opportunities catalogue on how to create postings that encourage diverse and under-represented students to pursue these research and innovation opportunities.
    3. Ensure that tracking of students’ participation include assessments of EDI.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. That the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources & 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 under-represented group.
  8. 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.