by MALINDA SMITH, KISHA SUPERNANT AND NANCY BRAY
Originally published: May 14, 2017
Voluntary efforts by universities to improve the diversity of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) have proven to be inadequate. That’s why new rules issued by the federal government last week in an attempt to boost representation are welcome news.
But they don’t go far enough.
The new federal action plan calls for institutions to develop equity, diversity and inclusion guidelines, and a more open, transparent and equitable recruitment and nomination processes. They highlight the multi-level policy environment, including university hiring policies, collective agreements and provincial equity policies. However, not all provinces have equity policies and, even where they do exist, none have an enforcement mechanism. The guidelines also call for diverse representation on selection committees, training on unconscious biases, improving awareness of the CRCP diversity targets, candidate pools that include women, visible minorities, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, and a more active role for university equity officers. None of these guidelines are new. And, despite longstanding knowledge of the diversity gaps, the government has permitted universities to delay compliance by two to three years.