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Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Canada Research Chairs Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

In accordance with the Canada Research Chairs Program’s (CRCP’s) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (EDIAP), Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) is committed to collaborating with the University of Toronto (U of T) and its affiliated hospitals of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) to adapt institutional practices to align with the CRCP’s EDIAP best practices. Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) Action Plan 2017–2019 encompasses four objectives and a series of initiatives aimed at improving openness and transparency, and at removing systemic barriers to increase representation from among the federally designated groups (FDGs): women; Indigenous peoples; persons with disabilities; and members of visible minorities. These initiatives were implemented, and the objectives were achieved, by the end of December 2019. They will be updated, revised and improved going forward as SRI implements the new guidelines and targets announced in the recent addendum to the 2006 settlement agreement.

Canada Research Chairs at Sunnybrook Research Institute

Sunnybrook Research Institute is the research arm of Sunnybrook and is fully affiliated with U of T. All SRI scientists and clinician-scientists are cross-appointed to U of T, where they hold professorships. However, SRI and U of T are separate employers and have independent recruitment processes and policies. Sunnybrook Research Institute employs more than 300 scientists and clinician-scientists recruited under Sunnybrook’s human resources (HR) policies and based at one of Sunnybrook’s three principal sites.

Canada Research Chairs are allocated to, and administered by, U of T, rather than affiliated hospitals. Sunnybrook Research Institute has a suballocation of 10 CRCs within the university program, which are subgranted to SRI through interinstitutional agreements. Both organizations have published separate action plans and developed separate guidelines for the selection, nomination and administrations of its Chairs.

At SRI, the business development and analytics (BDA; previously known as the strategic research programs office) office, in the office of the vice-president, research (VPR), works closely with the research services office at U of T to administer its CRC allocations. All CRCs at SRI are selected and nominated through open and transparent processes following SRI’s Guidelines for the Selection, Nomination and Administration of CRCs.

Visit Canada Research Chairs at Sunnybrook Research Institute and SRI’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research web pages for more information.

Equity and Diversity Targets and Gaps

Sunnybrook Research Institute remains committed to collaborating with U of T to meet and exceed the university’s equity and diversity targets set by the CRCP, thereby maintaining funding from this important program.

The University of Toronto, as the formal recipient and holder of the CRC allocation, is expected to achieve national equity targets by the end of December 2019. The university allocates CRCs to SRI. Although SRI does not have responsibility to the CRCP to achieve formal targets, the university expects SRI and all affiliated hospitals to work toward achieving national targets and to support U of T’s reporting to the CRCP.

The University of Toronto collects equity data for monitoring of the FDG targets and shares aggregated SRI data with SRI. The targets below are based on the current 281 filled CRCs for U of T campuses and affiliated hospitals. Sunnybrook Research Institute has an allocation of 10 CRCs within the U of T program.

Targets at U of T and Affiliated Hospitals for Canada Research Chairs
281 Filled Chairs (December 2019)
Based on U of T Self-Identification only

Designated Group Target Occupancy
Women 32% (90 CRCs) 40% (113 CRCs)
Members of Visible Minorities 15% (42 CRCs) 23% (65 CRCs)
Persons With Disabilities 4% (11 CRCs) 5% (15 CRCs)
Indigenous Peoples 1% (3 CRCs) 3% (8 CRCs)

Consultations and Development of SRI’s Action Plan

Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Action Plan was prepared by the BDA office of SRI, which has administrators with knowledge of the research funding ecosystem, EDI best practices in research, academic administration and equity data collection.

In 2017, U of T required affiliated hospitals with a suballocation of five or more CRCs to publish their own action plans and guidelines. Sunnybrook Research Institute centralized EDI-related activities in the BDA office, whose staff includes a new equity officer who has undertaken formal EDI training and certification. With the BDA director, the equity officer worked with stakeholders to plan, design and implement SRI’s 2017­–2019 EDI Action Plan. The BDA office will continue to develop and implement SRI’s new Action Plan, including extending EDI guidelines to other programs, as is increasingly being mandated by funding agencies. The University of Toronto also created a new position of EDI strategist within its research services office, which has provided the BDA office with advice on EDI topics related to the CRCP.

Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Action Plan was drafted in consultation with SRI senior leadership, and in conjunction with U of T and its nine other affiliated hospitals in the TAHSN through a working group established to address common EDI issues.

Groups and stakeholders consulted included:

  • Office of the vice-president, research, Sunnybrook and SRI
  • Business development and analytics office, SRI
  • Research services office and division of the vice-president, research, UofT
  • The TAHSN Research Committee
  • Equity and Diversity in Research and Innovation Working Group, composed of CRC leads and research administrators at U of T academic divisions and affiliated hospitals
  • Research communications office, SRI
  • Research Executive Committee, SRI
  • HR and organizational development and leadership, Sunnybrook

The BDA director and equity officer also consulted with a group of SRI female scientists and CRCs. Two of the scientists consulted are chairs of departmental EDI committees at U of T, and provided insights on EDI practices and issues in their respective departments.

The BDA director and equity officer also consulted with Sunnybrook’s vice-president, HR and organizational development and leadership, who helped with identification of key institutional policies and resources that support EDI.

These groups and individuals represent academic, scientific, strategic and administrative leadership from across SRI and Sunnybrook, U of T and TAHSN-affiliated hospitals. They are diverse in their membership and were able to offer multiple useful perspectives and insights.

This updated SRI Action Plan will be shared with SRI Chairholders and the Research Executive Committee, which will serve as the SRI Action Plan self-assessment team going forward. The committee will provide advice regarding short- and long-term strategies and implementation of new initiatives.

In continuing the consultation process, and to identify areas for future improvement, current Chairholders will be invited to comment on the development and implementation of the 2020 to 2025 objectives of the EDI Action Plan, as SRI implements the new guidelines and targets announced in the 2019 addendum to the 2006 settlement agreement. All SRI CRCs will be invited to complete a brief, confidential survey regarding SRI’s Action Plan and be offered confidential one-on-one sessions with SRI’s equity officer and the director of the BDA office. As SRI moves forward with EDI initiatives, it will explore additional forms of engagement with the broader SRI research community on EDI issues.

Comparative Review and Environmental Scan

Sunnybrook Research Institute follows Sunnybrook’s employment policies, collective agreements and practices, which certify that:

  • A recruitment and selection process is in place to ensure fairness and equity.
  • There are policies to address discrimination, harassment and safety.
  • Policies that help address diversity, inclusion and respect are in place.
  • There is a biannual performance management program that helps to create a culture of engagement, respect and inclusiveness. This program was implemented in 2016.
  • There are corporate training programs to promote equity diversity and inclusion. These programs were implemented in 2019.

Sunnybrook does not collect demographic or equity data from its employees, including SRI employees. Within SRI, the BDA office is identifying mechanisms for the collection of equity data and has engaged with Sunnybrook’s HR department for support and guidance on data collection. Formal assessment of the FDGs among SRI faculty will be implemented in 2020. The analyses of the results of the consultations and comparative review will inform the development of the 2020 to 2025 objectives of the EDI Action Plan.

Sunnybrook Research Institute’s environmental scan included identification of HR policies, practices and resources that promote EDI across Sunnybrook, including SRI.

The environmental scan also identified corporate programs that directly promote EDI. In 2019, the Sunnybrook Leadership Institute developed the following e-learning and in-class workshops, which are available to all staff:

  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Civility and Respect
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Internationally Educated Professionals

Other resources include the Quality of Work and Life Program, which promotes a family-friendly working environment and on-site community. This program includes flexible working hours, on-site daycare and parental leave top-ups (maternity, adoption and paternity). Overall, corporate programs at Sunnybrook contribute to creating a culture of engagement, respect and inclusiveness that attracts and inspires staff to achieve excellence.

Objectives for 2017–2019

The Objectives, Actions, Indicators and Timelines have been revised for clarity in response to the CRC EDI Action Plan external review and recommendations report received in April 2019. The revised SRI Action Plan also takes into account the considerable EDI-related activity at SRI since 2017, which includes adapting existing practices and developing standardized processes and guidelines, as described below.

Objective 1: Create CRC opportunities for emerging researchers among SRI’s existing faculty who demonstrate strong potential to become leaders in their field

Indicators and timelines

  • Creation of two new Tier 2 CRCs at SRI (2018/19)
  • Number of nominations of members of the FDGs (2018/19)

Corresponding actions

  • Increase CRCP accessibility and representation of the FDGs by reallocating one of SRI’s Tier 1 CRCs into two Tier 2 CRCs, thereby opening up opportunities in 2018/19 for exceptional emerging researchers.
  • Identify and track promising emerging researchers and members of the FDGs, in particular, as they progress through their careers; encourage individuals to pursue opportunities; and encourage the research platforms of SRI to help mentor FDG members toward potential nomination.
  • Increase awareness within SRI that members of the FDGs may be in the earlier stages of their careers, and thus are more likely to face career interruptions and systemic barriers that could affect their productivity and career advancement.

Progress and contextual information

  • In 2018, SRI converted one of its Tier 1 CRC vacancies into two Tier 2 CRCs. This “flexible move” was approved by U of T. The resulting external recruitments were initiated in December 2018 in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences (ECS) platform.
  • In June 2018, SRI received an additional Tier 2 allocation from U of T and undertook an internal selection process to nominate a full-time scientist from the Physical Sciences platform.
  • All selection processes followed the newly implemented guidelines and EDI principles and requirements, as detailed in Objective 2.
  • By October 2019, SRI had completed the selection process for three new Tier 2 CRCs; one Tier 2 CRC was awarded in April 2019, and the other two are under review. All of the nominees have self-identified as members of FDGs.

Next steps

  • In 2019, SRI received an allocation of three new Tier 2 units from U of T. The new allocation will be used to create further opportunities for members of FDGs.

Objective 2: Adapt existing SRI practices on recruitment and retention of CRCs to align with CRCP’s guidelines and expectations

Indicators and timelines

  • Development, implementation and dissemination of a complete selection and nomination guide (effective January 2018)
  • Consistent representation of members of FDGs on selection and nomination committees (effective December 2017)

Corresponding actions

  • Ensure fairness and transparency in the recruitment and nomination process by developing detailed guidelines that follow the CRCP’s EDIAP recommendations and expectations. Adapt and standardize existing practices to ensure an equitable and transparent process.
  • Include explicit reference to CRC opportunities in job advertisements. Include equity statements that specifically encourage applications from the FDGs, and that encourage applicants to self-identify.
  • Ensure representation of the FDGs on search committees, and identify and provide equity training to all faculty and staff involved in the process.
  • Develop clear and flexible criteria for excellence that include nontraditional research outputs, professional services, outreach, mentoring and training of highly qualified personnel, and other contributions appropriate to each CRC vacancy.

Progress and contextual information

  • SRI developed detailed guidelines for the selection, nomination and administration of CRCs (first released in January 2018, and updated in November 2018 and September 2019).
  • Effective since January 2018, all SRI research platforms must follow SRI’s Guidelines for the Selection, Nomination and Administration of Canada Research Chairs. These guidelines follow the CRCP’s Best Practices for the Recruitment and Nomination of Chairs, and include job posting templates, checklists, selection criteria templates, and recommended practices and resources.
  • SRI has adapted its institutional practices to align with CRCP EDI best practices and requirements, including ensuring the following:
  • transparent and open selection processes
  • unconscious bias training is undertaken by all people involved in the selection and nomination process
  • diverse membership on selection committees
  • mandatory collection of voluntary equity data among candidates
  • involvement of an SRI equity officer throughout the selection and nomination processes
  • declaration and management of any conflict of interest involving members of selection committees.
  • Since 2018, SRI has selected seven new CRCs under the newly established guidelines and EDI best practices. Four of these were awarded in April 2019, and the remaining three are under review.

Next steps

  • Continue to extend the application of the guidelines and EDI best practices, as appropriate, to other activities and funding programs across SRI.

Objective 3: Strengthen and promote institutional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion

Indicators and timelines

  • Identification of an equity officer within SRI (effective September 2017)
  • Creation of a website to disseminate CRC opportunities and EDI initiatives at SRI (effective December 2017)
  • Creation of SRI’s Action Plan to complement U of T’s Action Plan (effective December 2017)
  • Identification of EDI training and resources, and completion of unconscious bias training by selection committee members (effective December 2017)
  • Implement policies, and meet all CRCP EDIAP objectives and requirements (by end of December 2019)
  • Increased recruitment of CRCs from the FDGs to meet and, ideally, exceed equity targets (by end of December 2019)

Corresponding actions

  • Identify an equity officer or advisor (or equivalent) who will be involved at all stages of a CRC recruitment or selection process.
  • Promote awareness of SRI’s commitment to EDI within the CRCP and across the broader institutional research enterprise.
  • Publicly post all information related to CRCs at SRI, including internal allocation, selection and recruitment processes, as well as archived information on previous CRC postings at SRI and profiles of current SRI CRCs.
  • Identify and promote institutional resources that could contribute to the attraction and retention of CRCs from the FDGs.
  • Identify EDI training resources and ensure the SRI community takes the CRCP’s unconscious bias training, and monitor mandatory training for search committees, faculty and staff involved in selection processes and nominations.

Progress and contextual information

Guidelines and Action Plan

  • In December 2017, SRI created a new section on the Sunnybrook Research Institute website to post publicly all information related to CRCs at SRI. The section complements that about Canada Research Chairs on U of T's website, and is continually updated as needed. The page includes information on:
    • SRI’s EDI Action Plan
    • selection, nomination and administration of CRCs at SRI
    • active and archived CRC opportunities
    • profiles of current SRI CRCs
    • policies that support EDI
    • contacts
    • EDI links, references and resources.
  • In December 2017, SRI released its equity, diversity, and inclusion action plan for 2017–2019. The plan encompasses four objectives and a series of initiatives to improve process transparency and increase representation in the CRCs from among the FDGs. The plan was updated in 2019 in response to the recommendations received from the CRCP in April 2019.

Equity officer, EDI resources and training

  • In 2017, SRI identified an equity officer within the strategic research programs office who received certification in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education, and who became an integral part of all selection committees for CRCs at SRI. In 2019, as noted, the SRP office became SRI’s BDA office, which includes a research programs and equity officer who oversees the EDI activities related to research at SRI, including EDI activities related to the CRCP.
  • SRI also identified EDI training resources and training materials. This list is available on the SRI website for easy access and is recommended to selection committees.
  • In 2019, Sunnybrook instituted its own unconscious bias and EDI workshops. These class-based courses are available to all staff, including those at SRI. An equity, diversity and inclusion certification is also offered by Sunnybrook Leadership Institute.

New Chairs and equity targets

  • In 2018/19, SRI selected and nominated seven CRCs for new and replacement nominations from internal and external competitions.
  • Excluding nominations under review, considerable improvement in representation has been achieved since EDIAP implementation in 2017. As of December 2019, equity data collected by U of T showed that four of eight SRI-occupied CRCs were women (compared to none of eight in 2017), and five of eight filled CRCs at SRI were held by members of the FDGs (compared to two of eight CRCs in 2017).

Participation in EDI-focused special events and initiatives

  • TAHSN ad-hoc working group: Since the summer of 2017, representatives of U of T and its affiliated hospitals have met on a roughly six-month basis to share EDI practices, and to discuss common approaches to the drafting of Action Plans and EDI strategy documents, policies and reports. In mid-2019, this ad-hoc group was replaced by a formal working group. (See next bullet.)
  • TAHSN EDI working group: In June 2019, SRI’s VPR, BDA director and equity officer met with leadership and representatives from U of T and nine of its other affiliated hospitals for a half-day retreat on “Putting Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Into Practice.” The event provided a venue to share and discuss strategies and actions to advance EDI across the institutions. Following the retreat, the members agreed to establish a CRC EDI working group and to develop coordinated approaches to other equity-focused initiatives.
  • Unconscious Bias Lecture and Workshop: In July 2019, SRI’s equity officer and several SRI scientists participated in a half-day unconscious bias training with Maydianne Andrade, vice-principal academic and dean, U of T Scarborough, and subject matter expert in creating equitable workplaces. The workshop was organized by the departments of laboratory medicine and pathobiology, and medical biophysics at U of T. It provided hands-on training and tools for addressing bias in hiring, promotion and performance evaluation. Several of the SRI scientists who attended have since then served on search committees for the selection and nomination of CRCs at SRI.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Now Conference: In November 2019, SRI’s equity officer participated in the Diversity Conference in Toronto. The three-day conference explored how to drive systemic change, and enable equitable and fully inclusive environments for women and diverse groups in the workplace.
  • SRI’s equity officer also participated in other events with a focus on EDI, including a panel organized by Toronto JLabs, Creating Gender Balance in the Biological Sciences, in March 2019; and the Made-In-Canada Athena SWAN Draft Charter Workshop in Toronto in March 2019.

Next steps

  • SRI will continue to put efforts into meeting and exceeding the CRCP revised equity targets. Sunnybrook Research Institute has three Tier 2 vacant Chairs.
  • To maintain SRI’s participation in EDI events as they arise and to continue to identify new EDI resources, training and related programs, and to promote these on the website.

Objective 4: Build on SRI’s existing communication channels to promote equity, diversity and inclusion

Indicators and Timelines

  • Proportion of stories annually that include members of the FDGs (by December 2019)
  • Number of stories specifically about issues, challenges and successes from an EDI perspective (by December 2019)
  • Number of other communications efforts that promote science across the FDGs (by December 2019)
  • Number of communications events that include an EDI component (by December 2019)

Corresponding actions

  • Ensure inclusion and promotion of EDI in all SRI communications channels, including the SRI magazine, newsletter and website. Celebrate and recognize EDI achievements across SRI’s research community.
  • Reflect SRI’s diversity in stories so that readers see themselves in the scientific lives they read about and, in particular, include stories targeted to trainees who might be seeking role models in science.
  • Identify opportunities specifically to highlight the roles of members of FDGs in science at SRI, for example, through events, stories or publications.

Progress and Contextual Information

  • In 2018, SRI communications published 14 stories either with an explicit focus on EDI in research or profiling the achievements of members of FDGs. Chief among these was a 16-page feature about women in science, the first published (to the best of our knowledge) by a research institute in Canada, in the 2018 SRI Magazine, SRI’s flagship publication:
    • A Lab of Their Own delved into the paths of successful women in biology and brain sciences and asked each of the women profiled if it was possible to “have it all.”
    • Let’s Talk (Women in Science) took a close look at why engineering and physics in particular have such low rates of female participation.
    • After publishing the stories in the magazine and online they were promoted further on Sunnybrook’s social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. A short video of the stories for posting on social media was also created during Canada’s first Gender Equality Week (September 23 to 29, 2018), which received 13,665 impressions in its first six days.
  • In November 2018, SRI co-presented with the Canada Gairdner Foundation an international symposium on focused ultrasound. In developing the program, consideration was given to EDI. Given the niche area it was a challenge to locate appropriate, diverse speakers who were more representative of society; however, the final program comprised 33% women and 13% visible minorities, which, while not optimal, was at least somewhat representative. Within this, Dr. Cori Bargmann, one of the world’s leading neurobiologists, was selected to give the scientific keynote.
  • In 2019, 46% of stories published by SRI highlighted accomplishments of members of the FDGs, alone or as part of a larger group. Several stories specifically addressed issues from an EDI perspective, including the following:
  • In 2019, SRI Communications formalized the shift to the use of nongendered and nonbinary pronouns in all of its communications.
  • In 2019, working with the BDA office at SRI, SRI communications created an expanded web section for EDI at SRI, bringing together all relevant information and resources, including news and stories promoting EDI across SRI.

Next steps

  • SRI communications will continue to apply an EDI lens to all communications materials, and look for new ways to inform not only the SRI community, but also the public more generally, about the need to ensure all groups are represented in science, toward encouraging greater participation of FDGs and other groups.
  • SRI communications will continue to promote and celebrate accomplishments of members of the FDGs, so that all people can see themselves represented in science, technology, engineering and medicine endeavours.
  • A central part of this work is to create opportunities for trainees to see themselves reflected in a diversity of faces, voices and other aspects of diversity.
  • SRI communications will also support the BDA in its rollout of further EDI initiatives, and specifically its data collection and analysis work.

Administration of Canada Research Chairs

Sunnybrook Research Institute has guidelines and procedures in place for the administration of its CRCs.

Guidelines for the Selection, Nomination and Administration of Canada Research Chairs at Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Allocation of CRCs at SRI

Canada Research Chairs are allocated to, and managed by, U of T rather than the affiliated hospitals. The university suballocates CRCs to each affiliated hospital, including SRI. The recruitment and allocation of CRCs by affiliated hospitals is determined by each hospital’s strategic research priorities and requirements.

At SRI, the Research Executive Committee (REC) provides advice to the vice-president, research on the alignment of SRI’s portfolio of CRCs with institutional strategic research priorities. In particular, REC discusses and provides advice to the VPR on the allocation of additional CRC opportunities.

The CRCs are allocated to SRI research platforms. A terminating CRC is usually replaced by a new recruit or an existing scientist in the same platform, taking into account U of T’s CRC equity targets. The subject area of the new or replacement CRC is determined by the platform director, in discussion with the VPR and with members of the platform, and in the context of Sunnybrook’s strategic research priorities.

Corridor of Flexibility

The use of “flex moves”—the conversion of a Tier 1 allocation into two Tier 2s and vice-versa—is monitored and approved by the office of the vice-president, research and innovation (VPRI) at U of T. An example of a flex move would be where a hospital wishes to recruit more junior staff to build strategic research capacity; in such a case, the hospital would request permission to convert one Tier 1 CRC into two Tier 2 CRCs.

The university has some scope to accommodate flex moves, and the VPRI’s office will consider the strategic case for adjusting the hospital’s allocation, as well as take into account how closely the university and the hospital align with their original allocations. For more information, consult the allocation of chairs at the University of Toronto. At SRI, the request for a flex move is initiated by the VPR on the advice of REC or of a selection committee about to embark on a recruitment.

Advancements, Renewals and Phase-Outs

The University of Toronto administers the renewal of CRCs at its affiliated hospitals. In general, assuming that a CRC’s level of performance in research is maintained, and barring a reduction in the university’s CRC allocation, SRI’s practice is to allow the renewal of a CRC. A CRC may be renewed only once. All CRC renewal nominations require written approval by the relevant vice-dean/principal, research or equivalent at U of T, prior to the release of online forms.

Sunnybrook Research Institute does not have an established mechanism for advancement of Tier 2 CRCs to Tier 1 CRCs, as the policy is that there is no automatic advance from Tier 2 to Tier 1, and that a Tier 2 CRC must apply alongside other candidates if they wish to be considered for a vacant Tier 1 CRC.

Working with U of T, SRI has been able to manage phase-outs through the use of reallocations and flex moves. In the case of a reduction to SRI's allocation, there would be a consultation between U of T’s VRPI and SRI’s VPR, taking into consideration the research performance of the institute, the end date of existing CRC award, and the potential impact on the Chairholder(s) and the institute.

Institutional Support for Chairs

Sunnybrook Research Institute’s process for determining the level of support to a CRC takes into account the resources provided to other faculty in similar disciplines. The VPR works with the platform director, program research director and, in the case of clinician-scientists, the clinical program chief to determine the optimal resources required for the CRC to undertake their research program successfully. The form and value of those resources are contingent upon the specific research needs of the CRC, in addition to the usual support a Chairholder would expect in an academic setting.

All scientists and senior scientists at SRI have 100% of their time protected for research. Clinician-scientists usually have 75% of their time protected for research, with the remaining 25% dedicated to clinical responsibilities.

The institutional attestation form, introduced by the CRCP in September 2018, requires a senior administrator to attest to the relative level of institutional support offered to each CRC. As part of the institutional approval of each nomination, the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and Strategic Initiatives, signs this form.

Institutional Support for Administrators and Search Committees

As noted above, SRI has identified a list of EDI resources, and these materials have been integrated into SRI’s guide for the selection and nomination of CRCs and are available online. The Sunnybrook Leadership Institute also provides corporate programs and training related to EDI and unconscious bias. These sections are available online and in-class to all SRI staff, including faculty and administrators involved in CRC recruitment and nomination processes.

Through the BDA office of SRI, the research programs and equity officer acts as a resource for EDI requirements and best practices. The equity officer provides guidance, support and coordination to selection committees and administrators on all aspects of a CRC selection and nomination process at SRI.

Openness and Transparency

Sunnybrook Research Institute has implemented measures to ensure that selection and nomination processes are open and transparent:

  • Development of a collaborative approach with the university and other affiliated hospitals in the design of action plans and guidelines. In addition to the sharing and mutual review of draft documents by email, the collaboration also includes a list-serv and face-to-face meetings, ensuring transparency and alignment between institutions.
  • Development of SRI’s own guidelines and processes for selection and nomination of CRCs, which recognize structures and practices at SRI that are distinctive from those at U of T. These guidelines have fostered standard operations and resulted in a high degree of cooperation among research administration, the office of the VPR, research platforms and programs in promoting a strongly EDI-receptive environment at SRI. The publication of guidelines has improved general knowledge and awareness of CRCs and EDI issues, and stimulated healthy debate at SRI over the extension of these processes into other operational areas.
  • Centralization of EDI activities through SRI research administration (rather than Sunnybrook HR) and creation of an equity officer function within the BDA office of SRI. This officer has served as an EDI and best practices reference point within SRI, and provides advice to the VPR and research platforms and programs. This has enabled more open and transparent, rather than bureaucratic, involvement in and engagement with CRC selection and nomination processes.
  • All CRC vacancies as posted on SRI’s website. The BDA office monitors all CRC postings to ensure advertisements are publicly posted and widely circulated to special interest groups. Postings follow a standard template provided in the guidelines, and are reviewed and approved by the BDA office to ensure the use of nongendered, inclusive and unbiased language, and the fulfilment of equity requirements. The BDA office also works with selection committee chairs to provide support, guidance and materials throughout the selection and nomination process.
  • Policies that support EDI at SRI, as well contacts for questions and concerns about EDI and the CRC program at SRI, are posted on SRI’s website.

Accountability and Course Correction

The BDA office is responsible for EDI initiatives related to institution-led research activities at SRI. This office has staff with expertise in the EDI requirements of federal and provincial research funding agencies. It aims to implement the principles of openness, transparency and equity to all funding programs, in addition to CRCs. The BDA office is also responsible for the implementation of the objectives of this action plan, including the collection and safeguarding of equity data related to the CRCP.

Progress will be monitored by the office of the VPR with the advice of REC.

Collection of Equity Data

Internal and External Applicant Pool Data

Sunnybrook Research Institute has developed a self-identification form to be completed by applicants to CRC positions. At SRI, equity data are collected as part of the selection process only to assess the diversity of the applicant pool. Equity data for the selection of CRCs at SRI is collected and safeguarded confidentially by the BDA office, and cannot be accessed by selection committees, other members of SRI staff, scientists or external reviewers. Completion and return of the self-identification form is mandatory as part of the application package for all selection processes of CRCs at SRI. However, candidates have the option to submit a null response to any or all of the questions. All CRC postings include encouragement to self-identify, as well as assurance of confidentiality and clear information about who will have access to the data and how data will be used.

Chairs of selection committees and the equity officer are provided with aggregated and anonymized equity reports for the applicant pool as a whole. If the data do not indicate sufficient diversity among the applicants, then the committee chair has the option to recommend reposting the opportunity to generate a broader pool of applicants.

Successful CRC Candidate Data

The University of Toronto ensures that all nominees, including SRI nominees, submit the required CRCP self-identification form by the nomination deadline. As of fall 2018, the university’s research services office sends all nominees a tailored email reminding them to complete the CRC online self-identification form. This email explains why the CRCP collects this data and encourages nominees to self-identify in all applicable categories. The BDA office of SRI also encourages SRI nominees to complete the online self-identification form.

The university also collects equity data for monitoring of the FDG targets and shares aggregated SRI data with SRI. As of April 2019, all new CRCs are sent a self-identification survey. The survey questions are consistent with those found in the CRCP/Tri-Agencies self-identification form. The processes for data collection, storage and access are managed by U of T and follow CRCP best practices.

Retention and Inclusivity

Retention of CRCs has not emerged as an area of concern at SRI, given that in the last 10 years no Chairholders have resigned from SRI. Should that eventuality come about, unless circumstances at SRI change, the vacant CRC would remain in the same platform, for selection of a new nominee under the usual processes.

Policies and Procedures That Govern SRI Staffing, Including CRCs

Sunnybrook Research Institute scientists and clinician-scientists, including CRCs, are bound to Sunnybrook policies, including those listed below that promote EDI across Sunnybrook and SRI. These policies are published on the intranet:

  • Sunnybrook’s Recruitment & Selection Process policy (HR-0079), which sets specific guidelines with respect to recruitment and selection activities and ensure that fair and equitable processes are applied to all.
  • Sunnybrook’s Diversity Statement and Principles policy (ADM-003) and the Respect Program (HR-0047), which articulate statements and principles that signify institutional support for diversity and inclusion, and recognize, respect and celebrate the strength and diversity of Sunnybrook’s staff, students, patients and community.
  • Harassment, Discrimination and Violence policy (HR-0049), for the recognition and prevention of all sorts of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
  • Whistleblowing policy (HR-175), which encourages all individuals to report improper conduct confidentially by providing an open avenue of communication regarding improper conduct, without fear of reprisal.
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), including an e-learning module available to all staff.

The measures outlined in this Action Plan demonstrate SRI’s commitment to EDI, as well as its continuing efforts to collaborate with U of T Action Plan and equity targets. The objectives and corresponding actions, supported by broader institutional initiatives and resources, will enable SRI to make EDI a central consideration in the administration of its CRCs. In implementing this Action Plan, SRI will meet its objectives by the end of December 2019. Beyond the objectives of this Action Plan, SRI will continue to apply sound and tested policies and practices informed by EDI principles to improve access to the largest pool of qualified candidates, enhance the integrity of application and selection processes, and promote excellence in research.


We welcome questions, feedback and suggestions about the SRI EDI Action Plan.

For more information about CRCs at SRI and EDI topics related to research and institutional funding programs, contact Jim Dimitroulakos, strategic research programs manager.

For concerns related to EDI in employment at Sunnybrook and SRI, contact Kristen Winter, vice-president, HR and organizational development and leadership.

All equity and diversity concerns will be reported to the vice-president, HR and organizational development and leadership at Sunnybrook.

For more information about the CRCP at U of T, visit

Infographic: Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for Canada Research Chairs

Read text-only version of above infographic

Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for Canada Research Chairs

In December 2017, Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) released its equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plan for Canada Research Chairs (CRCs). It includes four objectives to improve transparency and increase representation among federally designated groups (FDGs).


  • Women
  • Members of visible minorities
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Indigenous peoples

4 objectives for 2017–2019

  • Create CRC opportunities for emerging researchers, including awarding more Tier 2 CRCs
  • Adapt SRI practices on recruitment and retention of CRCs to match CRC Program guidelines
  • Strengthen and promote institutional commitment to EDI
  • Build on SRI’s communication channels to promote EDI

The government allocates CRCs to U of T, which then allocates CRCs to SRI based on success in federal granting competitions.

10 — CRCs allocated to SRI by U of T

8 — CRCs filled by SRI scientists

7 — New CRCs nominated by SRI in 2018–2019

6 — Self-identified members of FDGs among new CRC nominees

2017 2019
CRCs held by members of FDGs 2/8 5/8
CRCs held by women 0/8 4/8
Tier 2 CRCs for emerging researchers 0 3

In 2019, a section on SRI’s website was created for EDI content

46% — Proportion of stories published by SRI communications in 2019 that highlighted accomplishments of members of FDGs

EDI policies are being applied to other areas at SRI