CGEn Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan

CGEn is committed to ensuring our ecosystem reflects the rich diversity of the research communities we support with our infrastructure and expertise, and that diverse voices are integrated into our work. Embracing the difference and diversity of identity, experience, and thought, bolsters research excellence of our staff and trainees and promotes inclusive behavior. By continuing to endorse core values of equity, CGEn creates a respectful and safe environment that positions our enterprise as a global leader where diversity and inclusion are key drivers of excellence in scientific outputs and outcomes. CGEn also understands that the path toward an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace is a shared responsibility. The journey towards achieving the highest standard of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) requires ongoing commitment from both CGEn leadership and staff.

EDI Guiding Principles

CGEn leadership and staff draw EDI best practices from their host institutions:

CGEn leadership has participated in EDI training workshops with CFI, the Canadian Tri-Agency Funding Council (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), as well as the Canada Research Chairs Program. As a condition of eligibility for funding through these agencies, CGEn institutions have each developed their own EDI action plans (referred to above), all of which promote an enabling environment for diversity and inclusion that complies with federally accepted EDI standards and protocols across Canada.

To establish our Action Plan framework, we set out to articulate guiding principles that incorporate CGEn’s values to align with our growth and prosperity. Delivery of our EDI Action Plan relies on core principles focused on adopting best practice approaches to equity, diversity, and inclusion. These include practices that identify, address, and remove systemic biases and barriers, and also ensure fair and equitable recruitment, including individuals from the four designated employment equity groups (women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and members of visible minorities). CGEn’s EDI Action Plan also aspires to harness synergies and build on strengths of our diverse workforce.

CGEn’s EDI guiding principles are at the heart of the highest level of its governance, including our Board of Directors and all related governance committees.

EDI Action Plan

Over the last year, CGEn has prioritized efforts to identify highly-skilled candidates who reflect the diversity of Canadian society and the research ecosystem. Research supported by CGEn spans a wide variety of disciplinary areas, extending far beyond the internal research focus of host institutions and locations. To put our EDI guiding principles into practical operations of the CFI-MSI facility, there is no preferential treatment of local institutional users, public vs. private, those in certain disciplines, or those funded by specific agencies (e.g., stakeholders and funders of operations such as CFI, Genome Canada, or provincial governments).

CGEn uses project management best practices to ensure that the general “first come, first served” policy is upheld. To ensure equity in service provision, the queue is modifiable so that smaller projects can be completed without necessarily waiting for very large projects that are ahead in the queue.

Excellence is embedded by:

    • ensuring equity in research opportunities (notably in connection with access);
    • creating equitable conditions for research community members with different backgrounds and needs;
    • fostering diversity of vision and critical thinking;
    • creating inclusive teams that promote and value the different voices and ideas of researchers, participant communities, knowledge users, and other research stakeholders.

Exemplified by:

    • CGEn scientists, trainees and staff have taken EDI training and follow EDI best practices laid out by their three host institutions;
    • responsibility for the observation of, and adherence to, EDI principles rests with the Chief Executive Officer;
    • CGEn recruits new staff following EDI best practices, and develops training opportunities for staff traditionally under-represented in the genome sciences;
    • providing staff/trainee education (e.g., registration fees covered for all interested participants for the EDI sessions at the 2021 American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in October).

The CGEn EDI Action Plan has three objectives:

1) To actively and collaboratively practice EDI principles, including:

    • Leadership for Equity – In addition to enriching both skill levels and diverse representation that aligns with CFI’s EDI definitions and policies, CGEn commits to promoting EDI in the duties, responsibilities and oversight of all levels of its governance.
    • Diversity as Excellence – CGEn delivers EDI training and adheres to EDI best practices across partner institutions, in accordance with their EDI Action and Strategic Plans.
    • Evidence-based Policy Development – CGEn’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee have committed to hire an EDI specialist staff member as part of the CGEn central team to perform intersectional, multivariate analyses on collected data. This work and its outcomes will better inform workplace experiences and systematic frameworks within the CGEn team. The new EDI Manager will use quantitative/qualitative methods to inform policies that will help to build a culture where all members of CGEn’s team and its community feel valued and respected.

2) To develop and implement EDI initiatives in CGEn-supported research:

    • CGEn will work with partners and collaborators to develop protocols for inclusive participation of research participants and advocates in disease studies, supported by its infrastructure.
    • CGEn will secure social and cultural representative in the selection of species to sequence, and how these sets of data are shared and used.

3) To develop training opportunities encouraging pipelines of EDI talent supported in CGEn facilities:

    • CGEn supports a significant number of local and international projects, but a new focus will be to identify underrepresented areas of research not already studied. This work will be driven by the new EDI Manager and collected/analyzed project data.
    • CGEn continues to learn from partnering projects, such as the Silent Genomes initiative studying Indigenous populations, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, the many paediatric populations we support, and equally the CGEn-led Canadian BioGenome Project as part of a worldwide effort.