The University of British Columbia has reaffirmed its strong commitment to enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in research by endorsing the Government of Canada’s Dimensions charter.
Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada is a pilot program that aims to address systemic barriers, particularly those experienced by members of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.
Institutions that endorse the Dimensions charter, unveiled earlier this month by Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport, commit to embed equity, diversity and inclusion principles in their policies, practices, action plans and culture. The charter outlines eight principles for institutions to adopt in order to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion.
“UBC is proud to sign the Dimensions charter, further strengthening our commitment to embedding equity, diversity and inclusion throughout our systems and structures,” said Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC.
“I applaud the Government of Canada and Minister Kirsty Duncan for launching the Dimensions initiative and for their leadership and persistent efforts to address longstanding imbalances in the academic and research sector,” he said.
“Adopting the principles in the Dimensions charter is an opportunity to reflect and expand upon on our successes while further contemplating gaps and shortcomings that still exist.”
Sustained excellence in research, education and engagement depends on the integration of diverse perspectives and approaches. Inclusion is a major focus and theme of UBC’s new strategic plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century, and Inclusive Excellence, a system-wide approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, is a key commitment of the plan. To support this commitment, a number of important initiatives are underway to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion at UBC.
The university is developing and consulting on its first Inclusion Action Plan, which seeks to operationalize the strategic plan’s commitment to inclusion. The Inclusion Action Plan that will identify areas of focus and actions needed to create a more inclusive and welcoming community to live, work and learn in.
UBC has established senior advisory positions that guide university leadership on dimensions of equity and inclusion. In September 2018, Minelle Mahtani joined UBC as the Senior Advisor to the Provost on Racialized Faculty—a new position that supports the university’s institutional commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in the scholarly and leadership environment for faculty members at UBC. Mahtani joined others at UBC who are focused on promoting inclusion within the university, including the Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women Faculty, Jennifer Love, the Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, Sheryl Lightfoot, and the Director of the First Nations House of Learning, Margaret Moss.
Faculties across the university have also established Faculty Equity Leads – these are faculty members, usually appointed at the Associate Dean level within each faculty, who act as a primary lead on issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion. The Faculty Equity Leads network forms a key cohort across academic divisions to help ensure consistency in UBC’s approach to equity, diversity and inclusion.
UBC has twice been recognized for exemplary equity practices in the Canada Research Chairs Program and is striving to improve on this record, guided by the UBC Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
The university is also finalizing a renewed Indigenous strategic plan which will further UBC’s commitments to enact meaningful and lasting reconciliation. An example of how UBC is working to enact reconciliation in research is the establishment of the Indigenous Research Support Initiative. This initiative responds to an identified need for professional research support and services to Indigenous communities and university researchers from various disciplines to undertake collaborative projects based on community-led interests, reciprocal relationships, and principles of mutual accountability.
“UBC is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in research, and the benefits it brings not just to the researcher community, but to our country as a whole. Canada has a wealth of diversity, and creating a research environment that can take advantage of this diversity is a vital step in tackling the biggest and most complex research challenges,” said Gail Murphy, vice-president, research and innovation.