While human rights and employment standards legislation apply to post-secondary institutions, collective agreements should also contain language to ensure that appointment, tenure and promotion procedures and criteria do not discriminate against applicants. Non-discrimination articles in the post-secondary sector generally prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of characteristics enumerated in human rights statutes, but may include additional grounds such as political affiliation, place of residence, and association membership and activity. Language that requires the parties to promote equity and work to eliminate systemic discrimination serves as an important indication of a commitment to equity and provides a means for the association to hold the employer accountable when it fails to live up to this obligation.
Anti-discrimination language should commit the parties to review existing practices in order to identify, eliminate, and remedy systemic barriers and implicit bias. Many of the appointment, tenure and promotion practices that have a discriminatory effect may appear neutral but can deter qualified applicants from Indigenous or equity-seeking groups or fail to assess their qualifications fairly. Associations should therefore ensure that their collective agreements require regular review of all practices relating to recruitment, advancement, and retention with a view to identifying and remedying discrimination.
The Acadia University Faculty Association agreement specifically requires the parties to eliminate or modify practices that contribute to systemic discrimination, to refrain from adopting discriminatory assessment criteria, and to review such criteria periodically:
3.30 Consistent with the principle of employment equity, the Parties:
c. shall act to eliminate or modify those policies, practices, and systems, whether formal or informal, shown to have an unfavourable effect on the hiring, retention, and promotion of members of designated groups; and
d. agree that in the assessment and evaluation of candidates for appointment, renewal, tenure and promotion, and appointment to Head and Director positions, the criteria adopted shall not systemically discriminate against members of designated groups and shall be reviewed periodically.20
While the policies, practices, and systems that may have a discriminatory effect are often found outside collective agreements, associations can still ensure that equitable practices are adopted and followed. The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) has negotiated guidelines for fair and equitable procedures in appointments in a Letter of Understanding appended to the agreement. The guidelines outline best practices for advertising, recruiting at conferences, reviewing applications, developing a short list, interviews, and post-interview evaluation:
The Parties agree that the guidelines for fair and equitable procedures in appointments, as specified below, shall be made available to Deans, Associate Deans, Department Chairs, Temporary Chairs, Program Coordinators, chairs of Department (or equivalent) Appointment and Promotion Committees, under 13.12, and other Members involved in the evaluation and recommendation of appointments under Articles 13 and 14;
The Parties further agree that the chairs and members of Appointment and Promotion Committees shall follow the guidelines below in their respective committee's procedures for the assessment of applications and interview of short-listed candidates for appointment.21
20 Collective Agreement between Acadia University and the Acadia University Faculty Association (July 1 2017 – June 30, 2021).
21 Letter of Understanding #1. Collective Agreement between Wilfrid Laurier University and the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020).