EDI Action Plan


CIFAR is committed to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. We know we can, and need to, do better.  Our efforts require concrete actions and goals if we are to achieve meaningful change. 

We know that underrepresented groups experience systemic barriers in science, and more broadly in research organizations and academia. We know that we can do more to ensure our actions, systems and processes have a meaningful impact in removing some of these barriers.

CIFAR has an opportunity to create a model for international research excellence and collaboration that helps the broader research community make progress towards more equitable, diverse and inclusive practices. We are committed to taking deliberate action toward this objective, informed by the best available evidence and data. 


In 2018, CIFAR formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group composed of staff from across the organization who set out to assess our gaps and consult with staff, Board members and our research community. This Working Group then sought external expert advice to design an action plan that would help us make measurable progress. Beginning in 2019, we launched stakeholder surveys that provided information to better understand our community and make data-informed decisions. From these consultations, we drafted an action plan that formalizes and operationalizes our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. 


CIFAR’s approach to EDI, as with all of our initiatives, will be shaped by and will reinforce our guiding beliefs as an organization: 

  • We believe that our understanding of the world can be transformed by providing the world’s most brilliant minds with the time and freedom to explore important questions facing science and humanity as a global community 
  • We believe diverse perspectives are critical in creating new understanding 
  • We believe in providing career-enrichment opportunities for the next generation of research leaders
  • We believe the infrastructure needed to support interdisciplinary research programs must be global in scope. 
  • We believe new understanding should be shared with the world, especially the stakeholders who can apply that knowledge immediately in the public and private sectors for broad and positive societal impact.


Continued dedication to research excellence, global collaboration and operational leadership, exemplified through our sustained commitments, strategies, and actions on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.


In April 2020, CIFAR’s Board of Directors approved the organization's first Action Plan on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The plan outlines themes we need to address to ensure we are living our values as an organization. These include:

  • fostering inclusive spaces – focusing on collaboration, respecting each other, and providing education on EDI principles;

  • providing equal opportunities for all and providing more opportunities for underrepresented groups;

  • removing unconscious bias from decision-making
  • providing training and awareness, recognizing diversity as a strength, and considering merit-based acceptance into CIFAR’s community; and
  • committing to diverse groups – building on CIFAR’s strengths with an intersectional approach to researcher selection, and having equal representation at leadership levels in research programs.

Each action outlined below is included in CIFAR’s annual operating plan with a corresponding dedication of resources, and the expectation that several initiatives will be phased across the next three years (2020-2023). 

We will:

  • have a Board and senior leadership team that is meaningfully involved and champions EDI efforts
  • pursue Board composition that reflects diversity and equity
  • champion EDI, leading by example and sharing our efforts 
  • create ongoing opportunities for training and education in EDI topics – for staff, our research community, and all those involved in our application and program review processes
  • develop frameworks for staff recruitment at CIFAR informed by EDI principles
  • foster a workplace culture where all feel welcome and included
  • create a workplace where we value professional and lived experience, as well as education
  • ensure that there are sufficient human, IT and financial resources to support a comprehensive EDI Action Plan
  • develop an ongoing committee structure to support EDI efforts internally and with the research community
  • develop and refine organizational policies and practices that reflect EDI principles
  • establish a process of responsibility and accountability by reporting on EDI efforts internally and externally 
  • reach out to researchers from across the globe to enhance diversity and inclusion among our research community
  • embed EDI into our fellowship, application, and program review processes
  • ensure that all events/gatherings of our research community are informed by EDI principles
  • ensure that we include diverse perspectives and lived experiences in our Knowledge Mobilization programs, communities and engagements
  • identify, participate and represent CIFAR at EDI-focused gatherings both nationally and internationally
  • seek opportunities to learn from others and incorporate leading EDI practices into our day-to-day activities, and share our EDI efforts in external settings
  • leverage existing partnerships, and build new ones, to support EDI within the broader research community


CIFAR will hold itself accountable to its EDI commitment through a transparent implementation timeline, evaluation, and reporting to its communities. We welcome comments and dialogue on these actions as well as suggestions on ways we can best contribute to change. 

This page will continue to be updated as our actions adapt to stakeholder feedback.

Kate Geddie
Senior Director, Research 
Tel: 416-971-1099