Aug. 22, 2019

UCalgary selected for federal pilot program to enhance research excellence through increased equity, diversity and inclusion

UCalgary one of 17 post-secondary institutions chosen to participate in Dimensions pilot
Ministers Duncan and Morneau at announcement
Ministers Kirsty Duncan, left, and Bill Morneau take part in Dimensions announcement at Ryerson

The University of Calgary has been selected to take part in the Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada awards pilot, a national project involving 17 post-secondary institutions to foster transformational change within the Canadian research community.

The announcement was made by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, at left in photo above, and the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance. @KirstyDuncanMP photo

This past spring, UCalgary endorsed the Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada charter, committing the university to strengthen equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and help drive deeper change within the research ecosystem. Over the summer, UCalgary applied to take part in the pilot program and actively identify and eliminate existing obstacles and inequities that limit equitable and inclusive participation.

“The University of Calgary is thrilled to be included among the 17 institutions chosen to lead this pilot,” says President Ed McCauley. “The Dimensions project is an important opportunity to expand the culture of post-secondary research into a fully representative community. We’re committed to investing time and resources to foster an inclusive environment on our campuses, and we are proud to play a leading role in driving this change on the national level.”

Through this pilot, participating Canadian post-secondary institutions will identify and eliminate obstacles and inequities in access, admissions, recruitment, career development and security, pay, working and learning conditions, resources, retention, and progression. For the purposes of the pilot, the research community includes students, non-academic and support staff, part-time and full-time academic staff, post-doctoral fellows, researchers, faculty, and partners.

The 17 post-secondary institutions selected for this pilot have an opportunity to be among the first in Canada to receive a Dimensions award that recognizes their efforts and progress made to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in their environment. They will also be expected to help further develop the awards’ design and delivery by providing relevant feedback as part of ongoing and formal evaluations of the program. This involvement in the Dimensions awards will require flexibility and patience as the program evolves.

By taking part in the pilot, the University of Calgary has committed to devote financial and human resources and make a long term commitment to EDI practices throughout the institution.

“UCalgary is honoured to be selected for this program, and to be recognized for the efforts being made to ensure we remove any barriers to attracting and retaining the best talent for all of our research activities,” says Andre Buret, interim vice-president (research), UCalgary. “By embedding equity, diversity and inclusion through our application, selection, recruitment, and retention practices, we will ensure that all members of our society are fully included in driving our research activities, and benefiting from their impact.”

In 2018, the Government of Canada committed to implementing a version of the internationally recognized Athena SWAN program adapted to Canadian realities. Dimensions awards are intended for post-secondary institutions seeking to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in their environments.

In the fall, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) ran a series of consultations about how Canada would create its own version of the Athena-SWAN program including one at UCalgary.

The Dimensions charter was developed from these consultations and was signed by nearly 50 post-secondary institutions including UCalgary in the spring.

“When barriers exist that prevent talented people from being hired, based on their gender, their sexual orientation, the colour of their skin or their religion, they hinder our ability to reach excellence not only in research, but in all of our academic work,” says Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic). “This pilot will impact all of the practices we employ in hiring, recruiting and retention processes for all of our positions within the campus community, and will help to build the inclusive culture that we have been striving for at the University of Calgary.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is administering this program in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).