Employment Equity Questions & Answers

What is employment equity?

Employment Equity is fairness in employment. The purpose of an employment equity program is to ensure that individuals have access to positions at the University and that their qualifications are assessed in relation to the requirements of the position. The program seeks to eliminate any recruitment, selection, promotion or training practices that have the effect of being discriminatory and to provide a workplace where individuals are treated with respect. The Equity Program works with the university community to develop appropriate accommodations for individuals as necessary to meet our responsibilities under human rights legislation.

What are the designated groups?

Under employment equity legislation, the four designated groups are: First Nations people, persons with disabilities, visible minorities and women. These groups are targeted because of statistical evidence of disadvantage in employment as shown by higher unemployment rates, lower than average wage levels and concentration in low status occupations.

Does employment equity mean that designated group members will be given preference in jobs?

Employment decisions should be made on the basis of qualifications of the applicants. The best qualified candidate (subject to seniority provisions in collective agreements) should be offered the job. This means bona fide occupational requirements are used in making employment decisions; job requirements should not include any unnecessary barriers to employment. The University's goal is to have a workforce which reflects the availability of qualified designated group members in the labour market. To support this goal, the University works to ensure that designated group members are aware of position vacancies and that the selection process is fair.

Does the University have an under-representation of the designated groups in its occupational categories?

Yes, there is under-representation of the designated groups in some of the job categories at the University.

How long has the University had an employment equity program?

The University's employment equity program was introduced in 1987. The first Employment Equity Policy was approved by the Board of Governors in 1989. The policy was revised in 1992.

Who are the members of the Employment Equity Advisory Committee?

The Committee is chaired by the Director, Human Rights and Equity, who reports to the Vice-President, Legal Affairs.  The Vice-President reports to the President. Members include the Associate Vice-President, Academic, the Executive Director, Human Resources, the Director, Academic Relations and one representative from each of the unions and employee associations on campus. In addition, there are four equity employee representatives, one from each of the designated groups.

What assurances are there that the measures set out in the Employment Equity Plan will actually be implemented?

The University Employment Equity objectives, initially developed and recommended by the Employment Equity Advisory Committee, are submitted to the President, Vice-Presidents, and Deans. Vice-Presidents and Deans are responsible for equity efforts in their respective areas.

Why are employees asked to complete a questionnaire concerning racial origin and disabilities?

As part of the University's employment equity program,information is gathered and maintained on the number of First Nations people, persons with disabilities, visible minorities and women in the SFU workforce. The information is used to determine whether the representation of the designated groups in the SFU workforce is changing and to monitor the effectiveness of the employment equity program. Gender information is not requested from employees as it is already available from University records. The information provided by employees in the self-identification questionnaire is used to compile the University report on representation of the designated groups in the University workplace.

Doesn't asking employees questions about race and disabilities contravene the Human Rights Code?

No. Such questions do not contravene the Human Rights Code when the information gathered is used for determining the representation of designated groups in the University workforce. Section 42 of the BC Human Rights Code allows employers to plan, advertise, adopt and implement employment equity programs.

What are the grounds for bringing a complaint of discrimination with respect to employment under the B.C. Human Rights Code?

  • race
  • colour
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • political belief
  • religion
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • criminal or summary conviction offense that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person

Will the information provided in the self-identification questionnaire become part of my personnel file?

No. Information gathered from individuals is confidential and will not become part of regular personnel records. Only Analytical Studies, the Vice-President, Legal Affairs, and the Director, Human Rights and Equity, have access to individual information. Employment equity information is reported only in the form of statistical summaries. No individuals are identified.

The employment equity questionnaire says the information I am asked to provide will be held in strict confidence, but you want my name to be on the questionnaire.

The employment equity questionnaire is strictly confidential but not anonymous. The University not only needs to know the current representation of the designated groups in its workforce, but also needs to be able to see how that representation changes in the future. In order to maintain the accuracy of employment equity information over time, the University needs to be able to add new employees to the database, remove employees from the database when they leave the University, or change their status when they are transferred or promoted. Maintaining up to date information is the only reason for individual identification.

What will be done with the individual employment equity information?

The information will only be used to maintain an employment equity database showing designated group representation in the University's workforce, and to produce statistics to assist the University in the development of its employment equity program. Reports on representation by equity group are produced annually. The University must also provide reports to the Federal Contractors' Program at Human Resources Development Canada on program initiatives and equity group representation by occupational category.

What is the definition of First Nations people?

First Nations people include individuals who identify themselves as Status Indians, Non-Status Indians, Inuit or Metis (Employment Equity Act 1995, guideline 4).

What is the definition of visible minority?

Many Canadians are members of visible minority groups. Visible minorities are persons who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour (Employment Equity Act 1995, guideline 4).

What is the definition of disability?

Persons with disabilities are persons who consider themselves to be, or believe that an employer or a potential employer would be likely to consider them to be, disadvantaged in employment by reason of any persistent physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory or learning impairment (Employment Equity Act 1995, guideline 4).

Where can I get more information about employment equity at Simon Fraser University?

The Director, Human Rights and Equity will answer any questions you might have about employment equity. You can contact her by telephone at 778-782-4446 or by e-mail at: betaylor@sfu.ca. The Employment Equity Policy and Employment Equity Annual Reports are available on the web at: http://www.sfu.ca/avppolicy/.

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Vice President, Legal Affairs

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