Guidelines for ensuring a fair and transparent recruitment and nomination process


May 2017 update: Please note that these guidelines are currently being reviewed and revised as part of the program’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, to ensure that they are still aligned with the program’s equity and diversity objectives. Updated guidelines are expected to be available in spring/summer 2017.

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) is committed to excellence in research and research training. The goals of excellence and equity are both compatible and mutually supporting. Sound equity practices ensure that the largest pool of qualified candidates is accessed, without affecting the integrity of the program’s selection process.

All Canada Research Chair recruitment and nomination processes at universities must be transparent, open and equitable. This applies to the nomination of new Chairs, whether the Chair is used for retention purposes or as a recruiting tool, as well as to the advancement of a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 Chair at the same university.

For each Chair nomination, a senior university official must certify that the recruitment and nomination process was transparent, open and equitable. The table below provides broad examples and principles to illustrate the program’s expectations in terms of fairness and equity for the different aspects of the process leading to a candidate being nominated for a Canada Research Chair. While the remainder of this document deals mostly with new nominations, it is expected that universities will apply the principles of transparency, openness and equity to decisions regarding the renewal of existing chairholders. For example, institutions are encouraged to establish clear criteria that will be used to determine whether a Chair will be submitted for renewal to the program and to communicate these to chairholders at the beginning of their terms.

Institutions are typically subject to several policies or other requirements that must be taken into consideration in the recruitment and nomination of Canada Research Chairs, for example:

  • provincial equity policies or regulations;
  • institutional policies, including Board of Governors policies, tenure-track hiring practices, etc.;
  • collective agreements;

It is expected that chairholder recruitment and nomination processes be consistent and comply with all these requirements. In addition, the processes should be consistent with the strategy and commitment identified by the institution to address any representation gap for the four designated groups (women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples, and visible minorities), if applicable, as per the results of their tri-annual target setting exercise.

The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat reserves the right to ask institutions to provide, at any time within the 24 months following the nomination, proof that the process to recruit chairholders was transparent, open and fair. The table below also provides examples of documentation that could be requested as proof of the transparency of the process. It is important to note that the purpose of the table below is to provide broad principles that should guide recruitment and nomination processes for Canada Research Chairs, where appropriate and feasible (e.g., where procedures are not already governed by collective agreements or other legally binding requirements). The Secretariat understands that different universities, because of their size, language, geographic location, representation of designated groups, institutional policies, etc., would apply the principles below differently. The Secretariat encourages universities to implement the principles below in a way that is appropriate for their reality. The Secretariat will take into consideration the particular circumstances pertaining to a specific institution when requesting proof of the transparency of processes.

Career Interruptions

Certain situations, such as career interruptions and personal circumstances,  may legitimately affect a candidates’ record of research achievement. In addition, individuals from the four designated groups are more likely to experience career interruptions. To ensure that individuals with career interruptions are not unfairly disadvantaged, institutions are expected to have safeguards in place within their recruitment and nomination processes. Examples of potential safeguards an institution can implement include:

  • acknowledging within its chairholder job postings that it understands the potential impact that legitimate career interruptions can have on a candidate’s record of research achievement;
  • encouraging potential candidates to explain within their application to a chairholder position the impact that career interruptions have had on their record;
  • allowing potential candidates to submit a full career or extended CV to a chairholder position in cases where they have had career interruptions;
  • sensitizing and instructing selection committees to carefully consider the impact of career interruptions on a potential candidate’s record; and
  • limiting the potential negative impact of unconscious bias  and common cognitive shortcuts and errorsFootnote 1  within the recruitment, nomination and decision-making processes for a chairholder position.

Canada Research Chair used for external recruitment Canada Research Chair used for the retention of an internal candidate, subject to an internal selection processFootnote 2 Canada Research Chair used for an internal candidate for emergency retentionFootnote 2
Description: this approach typically involves:
  • a decision to fill chair in a particular area, in accordance with the institution’s Strategic Research Plan (SRP) (either following a call for proposals from faculties/departments, or from a centralized decision);
  • a search for candidates;
  • interviews and/or other assessments of the quality of candidates by a search committee; and
  • negotiations of employment conditions with the successful candidate.
  • an open call to faculty members / department or faculty heads of the institution for letters of intent or proposals to fill a vacant chair;
  • the development of proposals by faculty members / departments / faculties (proposals may propose a specific candidate for the Chair);
  • the assessment of proposals by one or several committees within the institution and the decision on the successful proposal; and
  • the selection of the nominee (if not already identified in the proposal).

Note: In this process there are potentially three decision points that may have an impact on equity outcomes: the decision at the faculty/departmental level on which proposal to put forward, the decision at the institutional level of which proposal to support, and the decision at the faculty / department level of the successful candidate.

  • nominating a researcher who is considering leaving the university to take a position elsewhere, and whose departure would significantly jeopardize a research area of importance to the university.
Expectations for a fair and transparent process
The committees or individuals involved in the decisions had representation from designated groups and were sensitized to equity issues:
  • the search committee had representation from designated groups;
  • the search committee was sensitized to issues of equity and unconscious biases through training or other awareness-building activities;
  • the search committee was aware of any representation gap among the institution’s chairholders and of the institution’s strategy to address any underrepresentation as per the CRCP target-setting exercise;
  • the institution’s equity officer (or equivalent) was involved and consulted at all stages of the process.
  • the institution’s equity officer (or equivalent) was involved and consulted at all stages of the process described above (from proposal development to the final selection of the candidate);
  • the committees or individuals involved in the stages described above (at faculty/department level and institutional level) were sensitized to issues of equity and unconscious biases through training/awareness-building;
  • the committee or individuals involved were aware of any representation gap among the institution’s chairholders, and of the institution’s strategy to address any underrepresentation as per the CRCP target-setting exercise;
  • where committees were involved in the stages described above (at faculty/department level and institutional level), these committees had representation from designated groups.
  • the institution’s equity officer (or equivalent) was involved and consulted at all stages of the process;
  • the decision on the appropriateness of using a Canada Research Chair for emergency retention was made by individuals or a committee that were sensitive to issues of equity and unconscious biases through training/awareness-building and were aware of any representation gap among the institution’s chairholders and of the institution’s strategy to address any underrepresentation as per the CRCP target-setting exercise;
  • where a committee was involved in the decision, this committee had representation from designated groups.

Examples of documentation that may be requested as proof of the transparency and fairness of the process:

  • membership of committees;
  • description of equity training provided; and
  • description of the role of the equity officer or equivalent.
The pool of candidates considered included members of designated groups:
  • The Canada Research Chair position was the subject of open advertising that included a statement of commitment to equity in the nomination and appointment process and encouraged designated groups to apply.
  • Efforts were made to identify a diverse pool of potential applicants (in particular, to address any underrepresentation among the designated groups as per the CRCP target-setting exercise), which may have included tapping into special caucuses or focus groups.
  • Information on the opportunity, and on the process that would be used to select the winning proposal, was provided to all faculty members, who were encouraged to self-identify if they had an interest in the opportunity.
  • Efforts were made to actively identify faculty members from designated groups who could meet the requirements for a CRCP and fit with proposals being submitted by departments/faculties (in particular, to address any underrepresentation among the designated groups as per the CRCP target-setting exercise).
 

Examples of documentation that may be requested as proof of the transparency and fairness of the process:

  • copy of job advertisement or of announcement to faculty;
  • description of strategy to identify and actively recruit members of designated groups.
The process was transparent and consistent with institutional policies:
  • the selection criteria were developed before the launch of the process and were communicated to potential applicants;
  • the process for evaluating candidates was fair and objective; and
  • the final offer is in line with the institution’s equity targets.
  • the process complied with institutional policies that describe how Canada Research Chairs are allocated internally;
  • the criteria used to select the winning proposal and/or candidate were developed before the launch of the process and communicated to all faculty;
  • the process for deciding a) which proposal to put forward (at the faculty/department level), b) which proposal to support (at the institutional level), and c) which candidate to nominate was fair and objective; and
  • the final offer is in line with the institution’s equity targets.
  • the process complied with institutional policies that describe the circumstances in which a Canada Research Chair can be used for emergency retention, and the process that is to be followed; and
  • the final offer is in line with the institution’s equity targets.

Examples of documentation that may be requested as proof of the transparency and fairness of the process:

  • criteria and assessment grids;
  • internal policies and guidelines.

Notes on table above

“Representation from designated groups” entails representation of designated groups that mirrors their representation in the pool of researchers that could potentially be eligible and qualified for a Canada Research Chair at the institution, where it is feasible and appropriate. This could be achieved by having committee members who, although not members of designated groups themselves, represent the interest of designated groups. It is also understood that data on the representation of designated groups among faculty might not always be complete, given that this is a voluntary self-identification process, which may yield varying response rates. The Secretariat will take these challenges into consideration.

“Equity officer (of equivalent) involved at all stages of the process” could be met by the following:

  • the process involved someone acting on behalf of the equity officer in ensuring that equity matters are considered throughout the process, e.g., university administrators or faculty members who have received equity training;
  • the equity officer (or office) was involved in the development of the procedures that are followed by Canada Research Chair nominating committees, and the equity officer monitors the proceedings.

“Institution’s strategy to address any underrepresentation as per the CRCP target-setting exercise” refers to the targets that are established by each university, every three years, regarding the number of chairholders within the four designated groups that it should aspire to meet with its allocation. It could also include other strategies or commitments related to equity adopted by the institution.

 

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Rising Above Cognitive Errors: Improving Searches, Evaluations, and Decision-Making:, JoAnn Moody, 2010.

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Footnote 2

Depending on the particular circumstances, an advancement from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 may correspond to either retention or emergency recruitment.

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