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Guidelines for the Recruitment and Nomination of External Canada Research Chairs

PDF version

Contents

Introduction

Background

Internal Allocation of CRCs

Preparing External CRC Job Postings

Advertising External CRC Job Postings

Search Committee

Interview

Collection of Equity Data

Committee Recommendation and Hiring Decision

Examples of Supplementary Documentation That May Be Requested by the CRCP

Supporting Materials and Equity Training Resources

Introduction

This document was prepared by the Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) strategic research programs office with the aim of providing a brief overview of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) requirements for the recruitment, selection and nomination of external Canada Research Chairs (CRCs).

This brief guide is designed to assist search committees in recruiting, interviewing and selecting external CRC candidates, according to the CRCP’s best practices for recruitment, hiring and retention of Chairs.

A separate guide is available for the recruitment and nomination of internal CRCs, subject to an internal selection process.

Full information and details of the CRCP can be found at www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca.

Background

The CRCP in 2017 released its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan (EDIAP), which requires institutions to meet certain milestones to ensure continued eligibility and funding.

All CRC recruitment and nomination processes must be transparent, open, equitable and fair, thereby ensuring that all individuals have access to and benefit from the program. Notably, the CRCP aims to eliminate barriers and to increase access to the program for the federally designated groups (FDGs): women; Aboriginal peoples; persons with disabilities; and members of visible minorities.

Sunnybrook Research Institute is working with the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals to meet the CRCP Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Public Accountability and Transparency Requirements, and is adapting its institutional practices to align with the new guidelines for recruitment and nomination of CRCs.

Some of the new requirements demand specific actions by the institution and by individuals involved in staff recruitment, and these are highlighted below.

Internal Allocation of CRCs

The formal CRC allocation is made to the University of Toronto rather than to hospitals, and the university makes a sub-allocation to each affiliated hospital using an established formula, based largely on tri-council funding received. The recruitment and allocation of CRCs by affiliated hospitals is determined by each hospital’s strategic research priorities and requirements. Hospital nominations are reviewed by a university committee to ensure eligibility and broad scientific merit and alignment with EDIAP requirements.

At SRI, the Research Executive Committee (REC) conducts an annual review of CRC allocations among Research Platforms to ensure alignment with strategic research priorities. That review includes specific consideration of CRC awards expected to end within the next two years. An unanticipated CRC vacancy or “retention” opportunity would be addressed at the next REC meeting.

An approved recruitment is undertaken by the recipient Research Platform, with the intention of subsequently nominating the candidate for a CRC award. The recruitment process must proceed in compliance with CRCP’s EDIAP requirements, and Research Platforms are expected to encourage candidates actively from the FDGs who meet the requirements for a CRC.

Preparing External CRC Job Postings

The CRCP expects job advertisements to reference explicitly the CRC opportunity and the institution’s intention to nominate the successful candidate for a CRC award. The CRCP now requires that a copy of the job advertisement be included with the CRC nomination package.

Job postings must use inclusive, unbiased, ungendered language and must be reviewed by an equity officer (or equivalent) prior being advertised. The posting must contain the following elements:

  • reference to the CRC opportunity and SRI’s intention to nominate the successful candidate for a CRC award
  • in the case of Tier 2 opportunities, the posting must describe the CRC eligibility requirements
  • reference to career interruptions and encouragement to applicants to explain any personal circumstances, to allow for a fair assessment of their application
  • an equity statement encouraging applications from members from the FDGs
  • applicants must be requested to fill a voluntary self-declaration form and a link to the form must be included in the job posting.

Sample job postings for external Tier 1 or Tier 2 CRC recruitment are available in Appendix A of the PDF file.

Advertising External CRC Job Postings

Job postings must be publicly advertised for a minimum of 30 days.

In addition to posting the position in traditional scientific, professional and specialist journals and websites, the CRCP also expects that specific efforts will be made to encourage a diverse pool of potential applicants and that institutions will actively solicit applications from individuals in the FDGs. Examples of where job postings should additionally be advertised include, but are not limited to:

Search Committee

The term “search committee” includes all of the people involved in the selection process. The process includes: establishing candidate search criteria; the review of applications and CVs; any review of “chalk-and-talk” presentations; formal candidate interview and/or review; and hiring decision-making.

The CRCP recognizes the power and consequences of unconscious bias, and that selection processes can result in the hiring of people who resemble the people who do the hiring, that is, people who “fit.” As a counterbalance and to ensure an equitable process, a diverse search committee membership is required. Unconscious bias may also influence the CV review and shortlisting processes, and the CRCP is particularly concerned to address unintended or unconscious bias that may have an effect at any point in the CRC recruitment, selection and nomination practices and decisions at the institution. For example, research has shown that the evaluation of academic CVs and even the wording of letters of recommendation differ by gender.

The CRCP has thus implemented a number of requirements to improve the transparency of the process and to improve participants’ awareness of their contributions.

Institutions must ensure that the search committee:

  • includes representation from at least one of the FDGs: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with a disability and members of visible minorities
  • includes an equity officer, equity advisor (or equivalent) who is involved and/or consulted at all stages of the recruitment process
  • takes, at minimum, the mandatory CRCP unconscious bias training module and ensures that members are sensitized to issues of equity and unconscious biases
  • is aware of any representation gap(s) among the institution’s current Chairholders
  • has established the application requirements, the selection criteria and shortlisting process prior to the initial screening of applications and CVs
  • is sensitive to an applicant’s legitimate career interruptions.

Applications should be sent to the chair of the search committee. Applicant data forms should be sent to an individual independent of the search committee, to ensure privacy. Aggregate data only would be provided to the chair.

Search committee members must identify if they have a conflict of interest regarding their participation, or if any information has been shared with them about a candidate that may influence their decision.

Interview

The CRCP expects institutions to be committed to a fair and equitable selection and interview process that objectively and consistently follows clear selection criteria established prior to the initial screening of applications and CVs. Interviews must do the following:

  • Be as objective as possible. The use of an evaluation matrix is recommended. A sample candidate evaluation matrix is included in Appendix B of the PDF file and may be adapted to suit the circumstances of the particular post.
  • Ask the same questions of each candidate.
  • Make allowance for differences in communication and presentation styles.
  • Be explicit that career breaks for family or medical needs or community responsibility will not negatively impact the hiring decision.

Collection of Equity Data

The CRCP expects institutions to encourage individuals to self-identify and to collect equity data to monitor progress toward meeting the university’s established targets for the FDGs.

Sunnybrook Research Institute has developed a self-identification form.

  • The self-identification form must be included as part of all internal selection and external recruitment processes.
  • External and internal candidates and existing Chairholders must be encouraged to self-identify.
  • Self-identification forms must be collected and safeguarded by a designated officer who is otherwise not part of the recruitment process.
  • Collected data must be kept confidential and cannot be accessed by search committees.
  • Aggregated data relating to a specific recruitment would be provided to the search committee chair.
  • Aggregated data will be used for the purpose of institutional planning as part of the CRCP EDIAP, and for reporting to the university and the CRCP.

Committee Recommendation and Hiring Decision

The CRCP is committed to excellence and equity in research. Search committees should be mindful that the best-qualified candidates may not have the most years of experience, the highest number of publications or the largest number of academic accomplishments. Nontraditional research outputs, professional services, outreach mentoring, training of highly qualified personnel and other nontraditional contributions should receive proper consideration when evaluating CVs. Committees should avoid using a candidate’s apparent “fit” as hiring criterion. In the context of the institution’s equity targets, strategic hiring should be considered when there are two equally qualified candidates and where one is from one (or more) of the FDGs.

At the end of the process, the chair of the search committee should provide a written, signed report to the vice-president, research on the hiring process.

The report/recommendation must include:

  • certification by the committee chair that the recruitment and nomination process was transparent, open and equitable; and the report/recommendation should be signed by the vice-president, research
  • rationale for selection of the chosen candidate
  • explanation if the selected candidate is not a member of one of the FDGs; and the rationale for not selecting a candidate from a target group should be approved by the equity officer or equivalent with equity expertise
  • brief description of the process for CV review and selection for interview
  • rationale for selection of search committee members, including declaration and resolution of any conflicts of interest
  • copy of guidance provided to people reviewing CVs
  • copy of guidance provided to the search committee.

A checklist for the external recruitment process is available in Appendix C of the PDF file.

Examples of Supplementary Documentation That May Be Requested by the CRCP

Within 24 months following a recruitment and nomination, institutions may be asked to provide proof that the process was open and fair. The following documentation that may be requested by the CRCP is as follows:

  • membership of committees, with indication that it includes representation from at least one of the FDGs
  • description of equity training provided
  • description of the role of the equity officer or equivalent
  • archived copy of advertisement or announcement of the CRC opportunity
  • description of strategy to identify and actively recruit members of the FDGs
  • criteria and assessment grids
  • internal policies and guidelines
  • copy of the blank self-identification form.

Supporting Materials and Equity Training Resources

CRC unconscious bias training module

U of T’s Enhancing Diversity

Searching for Excellence and Diversity Workshop

CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Practices

CRC Guidelines for Ensuring a Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process

CRC Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention

Hiring Practices for Equity in Employment: Interviewing Guide

U of T’s Better Practices in Recruitment

Canada Research Chairs at the University of Toronto

Self-identification form

The University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Strategic Plan

Sunnybrook Research Institute Research Strategic Plan (intranet access only)

For more information about the CRCP at SRI, contact Kevin Hamilton, director, strategic research programs, SRI: kevin.hamilton@sri.utoronto.ca.