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Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada awards (Pilot)

Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada (hereafter referred to as Dimensions) awards are designed to support the Government of Canada’s commitment to fostering increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity and inclusion. They are separate from, yet complementary to, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institutional Capacity-Building Grants.

Value No funding is involved in Dimensions awards; they are recognition awards rather than grants.
Application deadline July 8, 2019 (Letter of intent)
Summer 2021 (Full application)
How to apply To view instructions, select Dimensions Letter of Intent (LOI) Instructions.

To submit an LOI/full application, select Dimensions Secure Upload Site.
Additional Resources Frequently asked questions

A handbook will be developed with additional guidance for preparing a full application.
For more information Contact


Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strengthen the post-secondary community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Sound EDI practices increase access to the largest pool of qualified participants, enhance the integrity of application and selection processes, strengthen research outputs and increase the overall excellence of research.

The objective of this pilot of Dimensions awards is to foster transformational change within the research community at Canadian post-secondary institutions by identifying and eliminating 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.


In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada committed to implementing a version of the internationally recognized This link will take you to another Web site 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.

The awards are intended to recognize institutions that are inclusive of underrepresented groups, including but not limited to: women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities, as well as individuals who identify as, or belong to, more than one of these groups. Institutions should recognize circumstances wherein other groups may also face barriers. The awards will encompass all disciplines and will be open to all eligible post-secondary institutions.



To be eligible to apply to the pilot, an institution must, at the time of application:

  • be included in the list of eligible post-secondary institutions for at least one of the three federal granting agencies:
  • not be a research hospital;
  • have secured the approval of the institution’s president, or equivalent, to endorse the Dimensions charter.


To be eligible to apply, the applicant must:

  • be an authorized institutional official acting on behalf of an eligible institution, and
  • agree to the Terms and Conditions of Applying.

Because these awards are at the institutional level, the applicant is expected to be a senior administrator of the institution, such as a vice-president. Submission of the application must be authorized by the president, or equivalent, of the institution.


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).


The pilot will involve a limited number of institutions, which will vary in terms of geographical location, institution type and institution size. Institutions selected will have a unique opportunity to be among the first in Canada to receive a Dimensions award that recognizes their efforts and progress made to advance EDI 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.


The Government of Canada is committed to excellence in research and research training for the benefit of Canadians. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research needed to seize opportunities and to respond to global challenges. Participating in Dimensions awards is not only a positive step towards significant cultural change for an institution, it also increases the level of research excellence at the institution and influences the institution as a whole by raising awareness of EDI. The awards also help build on and celebrate progress made to date and publicly recognize increased commitments to and tangible results from equity, diversity and inclusion.


The three granting agencies recognize that changing the research culture and addressing systemic barriers affecting different populations and groups across all disciplines requires long-term commitment. Actions take time to be implemented, and they need attention, support and funding that are sustained over a realistic period. While it will be possible to see short-term improvements, institutional transformation takes time, commitment and persistence. Therefore, institutions participating in the pilot must be prepared to invest significant time, effort and resources in order to obtain a Dimensions award.

Financial and human resource commitments

To succeed in the Dimensions pilot, institutions must be prepared to commit financial and human resources to the work involved. The required commitment level depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the institution and whether EDI measures have already been implemented.

Award requirements

Institutions participating in the pilot will apply for the first level of institutional awards. Additional levels of awards may be developed in future iterations of the program. The first-level awards recognize that an institution has a solid action plan for identifying and addressing systemic barriers, particularly those experienced by members of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, demonstrating how they will apply the Dimensions principles to the realities of their respective environments to transform post-secondary research experiences, contributions and outputs by achieving greater equity, diversity and inclusion.

Elements of a solid action plan include:

  • a thorough self-assessment of underrepresentation and barriers that can be addressed and reduced through changing policies, processes and the culture where needed in the institution, informed by the collection of quantitative and qualitative evidence, and by identifying both challenges and opportunities;
  • information on EDI-related activities that are already in place and what has been learned from these;
  • the development of an organizational structure, including an equitable, diverse and inclusive self-assessment team (SAT), to carry proposed actions forward.

Data collection (quantitative and qualitative)

For the pilot, two years’ worth of quantitative and qualitative EDI data must be collected and analyzed to develop an action plan with goals based on identified gaps, barriers and trends. Details will be available in the Dimensions Pilot Handbook.

Self-assessment team

Institutions participating in the pilot must develop a self-assessment team (SAT) to coordinate data collection, analysis, and action planning, which will form the basis of the full application. The SAT will conduct an in-depth reflective assessment of the institution’s practices and culture to identify and analyze gaps, barriers and trends, and will develop an evidence-based action plan with specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART) goals to address identified issues in alignment with the Dimensions principles.

As part of their commitment to broad-based engagement to advance EDI, institutions should develop a diverse SAT comprised of representatives from across all faculties or programs, and from various roles within the research community, with consideration of intersectionality. It is vital, however, that the composition of the SAT does not lead to a disproportionate burden on underrepresented groups.

The SAT should be an integral part of the institutional structure and must meet at least three times per year. The final submission should be the result of intensive group work and collaboration across the SAT.

Workshop support

Institutions selected for the pilot will benefit from workshops provided by NSERC and other partners during the preparation of their full applications. Workshops could include such topics as:

  • How to assemble and run the SAT
  • How to monitor progress
  • How to prepare a full application
  • How to collect and present data
  • How to manage workload
  • How to create SMART goals
  • How to respond to resistance
  • How to use neutral language in job postings
  • How to build a self-identification survey
  • Principles and practices for collaboration with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples
  • How to effectively conduct consultations and engagement with underrepresented groups
  • How to address privacy and consent in data collection and related activities

Application procedures

To apply to participate in the pilot, applicants must submit a letter of intent (LOI) as per the Dimensions LOI Instructions.


  • LOI deadline: July 8, 2019, before 8:00 p.m. (ET). Complete LOIs must be submitted by the deadline using the Dimensions Secure Upload Site.
  • Full application deadline: September 2021

LOI selection process

Institutions will be selected for the pilot on the basis of two factors:

  • a balance of participating institutions in terms of geographical location, institution type and institution size; and
  • selection criteria (rated by a selection committee created by the three granting agencies):
Criteria Description
Institutional commitment
  • institutional resource contributions: relevance, quantity and appropriateness of proposed institutional contributions, including financial, in-kind and/or personnel contributions;
  • institutional accountability: the level of engagement of upper-level management and the appropriateness of the governance and management plan.
Evidence of probability of success
  • description of and plans to establish the SAT;
  • progress/status of data collection;
  • description of measures planned or already in place that align with the Dimensions principles.


Selection of pilot participants

Selected institutions will be notified in August 2019.

Full application selection process

Full applications will be peer reviewed. Selection criteria for the full applications will be defined at a later date.

Detailed timelines

Launch of LOI
June 3, 2019
LOI deadline July 8, 2019
Selection of pilot participants August 2019
Full application deadline September 2021
Peer review October 2021
Notice of decision November 2021


Note: These timelines are tentative and are subject to change.

Use of information and data collected

Personal information collected as part of the Dimensions awards is used to review applications and to administer and monitor awards. Details are described in the Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC.

In addition, institutions must comply with relevant provincial legislation and their own policies on privacy when collecting and sharing personal information and data.

For more information

For more information about this opportunity, contact