Affirmative Action Procedures

The development and implementation of the Department of Humanities' Affirmative Action Procedures are guided by York University's Affirmative Action Policy and the Affirmative Action provisions in the Collective Agreement between the York University Faculty Association and the York University Board of Governors.

These procedures were approved by the Department of Humanities at its meeting of May 3, 2010.


The Department of Humanities is committed to attracting outstanding educators and researchers from diverse backgrounds and prides itself on its affirmative action accomplishments. The percentage of women faculty members in the unit is high. Currently women constitute 41.5% of the full-time faculty members of the Department. The Department’s representation of visible minorities (members of racialized groups) is significantly lower at 3.8%. We continue to work towards making our curricula less Eurocentric, more inclusive of women’s issues and sensitive to cultural diversity.

An important step towards affirmative action is establishing an atmosphere where women, visible minorities (members of racialized groups) and other historically disadvantaged groups feel at home. We feel that we have done so, and we will work hard to maintain and strengthen that atmosphere. The procedures outlined below will ensure this continues to occur.

Affirmative Action Representative

The Chair of the Department of Humanities shall appoint an Affirmative Action Representative who shall be responsible for overseeing the affirmative action procedures of the Department. This person shall be a tenured member of the Department and serve as an ex-officio voting member of the Recruitment Committee. The representative shall report in writing to the Chair of the Department, confirming that all the procedures outlined in this document have been followed in each search. In the event that two or more searches are being conducted concurrently, the Affirmative Action Representative may ask another tenured member of the Department to serve as her/his delegate in overseeing the affirmative action procedures.

Establishing Priorities

The Recruitment Committee recommends to the Department each spring the fields for which appointments will be sought by the Chair from the Dean. The procedures for determining those fields are set out in the Academic Plan.

In the formulation of hiring priorities, care is taken to avoid any bias that could disadvantage any of the groups designated in the affirmative action provisions of the Collective Agreement. In fact, the Department is committed to creating new positions that will further the cultural diversity of the unit's curriculum, a step that is likely to lead to a more diverse faculty complement.

The Recruitment Committee

The Recruitment Committee consists of five elected members of the Department as well as the Department's Affirmative Action Representative, the Chair (ex-officio), and a graduate student representative from the graduate program in Humanities. In the unlikely event that no female receives enough votes to be elected in the normal manner in the annual elections of committees, the Chair, in consultation with the Departmental Executive, appoints a female faculty member to the committee.

For all advertised positions, the Recruitment Committee strikes a field sub-committee comprising at least one member of the Recruitment Committee, the Affirmative Action Representative (or delegate), and at least two other full-time faculty representing academic expertise in, or close to, the advertised field. These faculty members may include non-Departmental members, particularly when the appointments relate to formal interdisciplinary programs or possible cross-appointments to other hiring units. At least one woman must be a member of every sub-committee.


Once an appointment is approved for the Department by the Dean's office, the Recruitment Committee, in consultation with the Chair, formulates the wording for the advertisement. The wording of any advertisement must be submitted to a Departmental meeting for approval.

All advertisements must include approved wording concerning citizenship and affirmative action.

The Department advertises widely in University Affairs, CAUT Bulletin and all other appropriate field journals/newsletters, including special interest venues such as the Women's Caucus of the American Historical Association or the Modern Language Association (to mention two recent examples). In addition, the Chair writes to chairs of related departments, asking them to notify graduate students and recent graduates, and to post notices which are accompanied by a statement that incorporates the University's standard language on affirmative action and equity. The Department also relies on specialists in the field (at York and elsewhere contacted by telephone) to notify it of potential women applicants or potential applicants of other targeted groups. One of the responsibilities of the Affirmative Action Representative is to serve as a resource person who will help to identify up-to-date appropriate lists and websites by consulting with the University's Equity Office and colleagues.

Based on the Collective Agreement, where 40% or more of the tenure-stream departmental faculty positions are filled by women and 20% or more are filled by visible minorities (members of racialized groups), the Department shall seek proactively to increase the representation of faculty who are Aboriginal or Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities using the diversity of the populations of the Canadian workforce as a guideline (from the most recent census).

The Department recognizes that while it is relatively easy to reach women’s groups, reaching members of other targeted groups presents a greater challenge. Advertising in publications and/or electronic bulletin boards likely to be read by visible minorities (members of racialized groups), Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities is an additional way of contacting such potential applicants. With this awareness, and further as a Department with more than 40% full-time women faculty, it is the Department’s commitment to engage in proactive search procedures to elicit the largest possible number of qualified candidates who are visible minorities (members of racialized groups), Aboriginal or Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities.

The Department will include in the acknowledgement of each application a form asking the applicant to self-identify in relation to the affirmative action categories. Candidates who are members of these categories and do not self-identify at the time of application will be given numerous opportunities to self-identify throughout the hiring process.

Establishing a Short List

Before any files are examined, the search committee is required to meet with the university-appointed Affirmative Action Officer in a detailed workshop designed to familiarize members with the university's affirmative action policies and procedures as laid out in the YUFA Collective Agreement. In addition to the Department's affirmative action procedures, this workshop guides the hiring process from the establishment of the short list to the hire.

Following the meeting with the university's Affirmative Action Officer, and before any files are examined, the search committee meets further to discuss the conduct of the search and the criteria for evaluating candidates as established by the advertisement for the position. At this meeting there is a discussion of the CAUT policy statement on fair appointment practices and equity in hiring. Included in the discussion are also the rights of applicants to be judged fairly and only on academic merits, to be judged in a non-discriminatory manner, and to be given reasons for the decision of the Hiring Committee.

At its first meeting to determine a short list, the Department's Affirmative Action Representative leads the hiring committee in a discussion of the goals of affirmative action, emphasizing the demographics of the York student body and Toronto and the value in having a faculty whose composition mirrors the diversity of York University. The Affirmative Action Representative points out ways in which career paths of members of targeted groups may differ from the traditional norms. For example, childbearing and other family responsibilities might slow down a candidate's scholarly output. Persons with disabilities may also have impediments that reduce their academic output or dictate alternate forms of publication and conference presentation. The Affirmative Action Representative emphasizes that non-traditional specializations should not be undervalued by members of the search committee.

Thereafter, the Search Committee reviews the criteria, which were previously established, and keeping in mind the goals of affirmative action and the specific factors spelled out in this document, assesses and ranks all candidates, and establishes a short list.

These are the three criteria used in determining the short list: teaching ability, service, and professional contribution and standing. Expertise in the field is crucial; a Ph.D. or equivalent is normally a requirement; teaching and scholarly records are carefully scrutinized; and considerable weight is placed on letters of reference, taking into account who writes them (the standing of the referees in the field) what they say, their degree of specificity, and so on.

After reviewing all the files, the committee first considers the question of citizenship. The criteria in this category require that the position may be offered to a non-Canadian only if there is no Canadian (or landed immigrant) who is acceptable. In effect, to offer the position to a non-Canadian is to remove immediately all Canadians (and landed immigrants) from the search. It is essential that this fact be kept in mind when preparing a short list. In deciding between a Canadian and a non-Canadian candidate, the question of citizenship, not affirmative action, is applicable. The relevant criterion is whether the Canadian candidate is qualified. When there is more than one qualified Canadian candidate, the Affirmative Action procedures are employed in the selection process. Likewise, if there are no qualified Canadian candidates, the Affirmative Action provisions apply in the selection process of non-Canadian candidates.

The employment of non-Canadian academics is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; Citizenship & Immigration Canada; and Employment & Social Development Canada. When the appointment is to be at the C.L.A. level, U.S. and Mexican citizens are considered equivalent to Canadians (following NAFTA regulations), as are citizens of Chile (per the provisions of the Canada Chile Free Trade Agreement).

Once the question of citizenship is satisfied, no application from any member of a targeted group may be set aside summarily either by the Chair of the Department or by the Search Committee, even if it seems on first review that the candidate is not qualified. The committee discusses carefully every application by a member of one of the targeted groups. Although candidates are asked to self-identify at the beginning of the procedure, the committee shall include in the affirmative action categories for the purposes of this initial review any candidate who may in its opinion be a member of an affirmative action category but has not yet self-identified.

Child-bearing and family responsibilities and statements of non-standard career paths are taken into account when assessing quantity of publications. While no precise algorithm can be devised to calculate the effect of family responsibilities and non-standard career patterns, in such instances the quality of the scholarship plays a greater role than otherwise. Sensitivity to these issues is heightened by the initial presentation of the Affirmative Action Representative.

At the end of the process of constructing a short list, the Affirmative Action Representative prepares a short statement outlining the decisions of the committee in regard to its treatment of candidates from the targeted groups. The short list is not official until approved by the Department.

When the short list does not contain a candidate from any one of the affirmative action categories, the committee shall include in its report to the Department the name of the strongest candidate in each of these categories with the reasons why the candidate was not included on the short list. The files of these candidates shall be included with the files of the short-listed candidates for consideration by members of the Department. A record is kept of all decisions made at these meetings.

The Hiring Process


All candidates are treated equally during the interview process. Candidates are informed that the Department is eager to schedule their visits to York in such a way as to accommodate any special religious, cultural, disability or other needs they might have. They are given information about availability of vegetarian and kosher food and about wheelchair accessibility of campus buildings and of hotels.

When candidates are invited to campus for interviews, they are again encouraged to self-identify as members of one of the targeted groups. The Affirmative Action Representative ensures that all candidates receive material about relevant programmes and policies at York, including information about child care services, the School of Women's Studies, York University Feminist Research Centre, the Centre for Human Rights, and Counseling and Disability Services.

During the formal interview, all candidates are asked the same core questions. All candidates also present a scholarly paper to the Department. In interviews and meeting with candidates, questions about marital status, reproductive intentions, etc. are deemed inappropriate. Candidates are informed that York is a place where diversity is welcomed, especially given that the student body is unusually diverse.

In an effort to ensure that candidates from each of the targeted groups feel both welcome and comfortable during the interview process, efforts are made to have faculty members from the relevant groups attend the talk on the candidate's work. As well, one or more faculty member(s) of the relevant targeted group are invited to lunch or dinner with the candidate.

The interview process is documented as part of the final report of the Affirmative Action Representative.

Deciding To Whom The Offer Will Be Made

Subsequent to the interview of the last short-listed candidate, the Search Committee discusses the merits of the interviewed candidates and reaches a decision by formal vote. Only those candidates who have self-identified as members of one (or more) affirmative action categories may be considered within the procedures of affirmative action.

In making a recommendation for an appointment to the Department (and ranking the remaining candidates) the following procedures shall be followed:

No candidate shall be recommended who does not meet the criteria of the appointment in question.

A vote is taken in the committee using a preferential system (1 point for first choice, 2 for second, and so on, so that the lowest scorer is ranked as the preferred candidate). Most often, one candidate proves markedly superior in quality of academic training, scholarly profile and promise, teaching ability and range, depth and penetration of mind, and prospective collegiality. However, that is not always the case. Candidates are considered substantially equal unless one candidate can be demonstrated to be superior. The Search Committee takes a formal vote to affirm that two (or more) candidates are substantially equal.

If one or more Canadian citizens or landed immigrants are judged to be acceptable for the position, then the affirmative action procedures outlined below are applied to these candidates, and the candidate who achieves the highest standing is recommended to the Department.

If no Canadian citizen or landed immigrant is considered acceptable, then the committee may consider non-Canadian applicants and must apply the Affirmative Action provisions outlined below in the selection process. Recommending a non-Canadian for the position immediately removes all Canadian citizens and Canadian landed-immigrants from consideration.

Where fewer than 40% of the tenure-stream faculty positions are filled by women and fewer than 20% of the tenure-stream faculty positions are filled by members of a visible minority/racialized group and candidates’ qualifications are substantially equal, a candidate who is a visible minority woman (a woman who is a member of a racialized group) shall be recommended for appointment. If no visible minority woman is recommended for appointment, then a candidate from the more underrepresented group (a woman or member of a visible minority or racialized group) shall be recommended.  If no candidate who is a member of either group is recommended, then a member of another designated Affirmative Action group (a person with disabilities or an Aboriginal or Indigenous person) shall be recommended. If no member of either group is recommended, then a candidate who is not a member of a designated Affirmative Action group shall be recommended.

When one of the thresholds for tenure stream faculty has not yet been met (40% or more women, 20% or more visible minorities/members of racialized groups) and candidates’ qualifications are substantially equal, then the candidate who is a member of the group whose threshold has not yet been met shall be recommended for appointment. If no candidate who is a member of the group that is below the threshold is recommended for appointment, then a member of another designated Affirmative Action group (a person with disabilities or an Aboriginal or Indigenous person) shall be recommended. If no member of these groups is recommended for appointment, then a candidate who is not a member of a designated Affirmative Action group will be recommended.

Where 40% or more of the tenure-stream faculty positions are filled by women and 20% or more of the tenure-stream faculty positions are filled by members of a visible minority/racialized group and candidates’ qualifications are substantially equal, a member of another designated Affirmative Action group (a person with disabilities or an Aboriginal or Indigenous person) shall be recommended. If no member of these groups is recommended for appointment, then a candidate who is not a member of a designated Affirmative Action group will be recommended.

The following information is included in the final file submitted when forwarding the Department's recommendation for appointment:

  1. Date on which the appointment was authorized;
  2. Where the advertising took place;
  3. Number of applicants, specifying nationality, and membership in the targeted groups;
  4. Outline of the selection process;
  5. Names of short-listed candidates (with designations);
  6. Name of the candidate recommended to the Dean; and
  7. Date the appointment is to begin.

The final file also includes a copy of the Department's Affirmative Action Procedures, and the statement of the Affirmative Action Representative, confirming that the proper procedures were followed.

Revision to the Affirmative Action Plan

Every year the Chair and the Affirmative Action Representative shall review this document especially in the light of new contract language and decide if the procedures continue to meet the goals of the Department and the terms of the Collective Agreement. The Chair and the Affirmative Action Representative may recommend minor revisions to this plan. Such changes will be approved by the Departmental Executive and reported for information to the Department. Substantial revisions to the plan must be approved by a meeting of the Department.

Updated: February 13, 2017