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CAUT Policy Statement

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is committed to securing equity for members of historically marginalized groups disproportionately excluded from full participation in the academy. Such groups include but are not limited to: women; Aboriginal peoples; persons with disabilities; persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or 2-spirited; racialized persons; and persons discriminated against based on creed or cultural and ethnic origin. These identities intersect and may further compound marginalization. The commitment to equity begins with the acknowledgement of inequity and demands proactive redress for the effects of systemic discrimination.

Systemic discrimination takes place in institutions and systems and results in unfair treatment and unequal opportunities. Systemic discrimination can be intentional and may also be an unintended consequence of systems and their interactions. In the post-secondary education environment, systemic discrimination has manifested itself in barriers to access, employment, governance, inclusion, respect, and acceptance. The result has been that particular forms of knowledge production, dissemination and pedagogy have been privileged over others, a practice that has limited the scope of academic freedom and scholarship.

The goal of equity is to achieve inclusiveness and social and economic justice through recognition, numerical representation, accountability, responsibility and the development of a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

CAUT recognizes the importance of Aboriginal (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) perspectives that see equity as a continuing struggle to achieve and maintain balance between living things. Equity for Aboriginal peoples requires recognition of their distinct Aboriginal and treaty rights, as well as historical and ongoing injustices which resulted from longstanding Canadian colonial practices.

When assessing scholarship for career decisions, recognition must be given to different and diverse experiences of equity-deserving groups. Diverse substantive contributions to knowledge must be welcomed in the university or college. Diversity demands representation of difference in terms of vision, values, cultural mores, lived experience, methodologies, and epistemologies in critical analysis.

The attainment of equity requires vigilant monitoring and action to address restrictions to the realization of full participation of all members of the academy. An inclusive university or college is one that is active in eliminating these restrictions and promotes collegial governance and the full democratic participation and academic freedom of all its members, both regular and contract academic staff. Such restrictions include systemic discrimination, employment and education inequities, lack of accommodation, and institutional structures, policies, workplace culture, and practices that perpetuate systemic discrimination and may enable a climate of hostility or other adverse effects.

Realizing equity is both an individual and a collective responsibility. CAUT commits to providing leadership in the work of combating systemic discrimination, removing barriers, and promoting inclusivity. In order to encourage post-secondary institutions and academic staff associations to take concrete action on issues such as inclusion, diversity, workplace safety, pay equity, employment equity and accommodation, CAUT should celebrate successes in these areas.

Academic staff associations should take a leadership role in the realization of equity by negotiating equity provisions in agreements. This could include measures to achieve recruitment and retention of members of Aboriginal or equity-deserving groups that are underrepresented in the hiring unit or in the institution as a whole. These may include affirmative action requirements, targeted hiring programs, and active search procedures, as permitted under provincial and federal human rights legislation.1

Academic staff associations should also promote equity and the participation of equity-deserving members within the association and its governance structure. This could include a position on the Association Executive Committee and/or the creation of an association committee or caucus related to equity. Academic staff associations should strive to promote and maintain safe spaces free of harassment and discrimination for their equity-deserving members.

Responsibility, accountability and transparency in all aspects of institution life, from both post-secondary institutions and academic staff associations, are crucial tools for creating inclusive environments and addressing the consequences of discriminatory practices, such as systemic discrimination, harassment, and stigmatization.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2018;
Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2023.

1 See the CAUT Legal Advisory on Legal Basis for Special Equity Programs