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Recruiting for Diversity

McMaster University has made its commitment to strengthening diversity and equity an institutional priority through its Statement on Building an Inclusive Community and, more recently, in Forward with Integrity: The Next Phase, which outlines a focus on building an inclusive community, promoting equity and fairness, and celebrating our rich diversity. Fundamental to this commitment is the recognition that the best and the brightest staff members will be found through outreach and recruitment practices that are inclusive and respectful of diversity.


In Canada, employment equity efforts have focused on four designated groups that have historically encountered barriers to full and fair representation in employment: women, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples (Aboriginal Peoples), members of racialized groups (visible minorities), and persons with disabilities. More recently, organizations and institutions, including McMaster University, have expanded beyond the four designated groups to include other groups that may face employment barriers, such as LGBTQ+ persons (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and related identities).

McMaster includes all of these groups in its employment equity planning and programming. Employee diversity data is collected through the University’s Employment Equity survey, with anonymized data shared with senior leaders.

At McMaster, we understand the importance of equity and diversity within our community and recognize the following benefits:

  • A thorough and active equitable recruitment process instills confidence in the hiring process and the selected candidate.
  • Research reveals that diversity enhances innovation, creativity and strengthens teams, and ultimately enhancing research and teaching excellence.

It is essential to review any goals or strategies for employment equity that have been established for your Faculty or Department and identify how the current search process can support those goals.

Raise Awareness of Unconscious Assumptions/Implicit Bias

A significant body of recent research has shed light on the impact of unconscious assumptions or implicit biases on equitable hiring. Identifying the implicit biases that each person has provides the opportunity to reflect on how they may influence individual assessments during the search process. Being able to recognize when bias has been triggered allows those involved in the hiring process to evaluate whether that bias is relevant or discriminatory.

Psychological research has reported the following findings (University of Michigan Office of the Provost Academic Affairs Hiring Manual):

  • We often judge people based exclusively on our own experience.
  • We tend to favour people who look like us or have other experiences like our own.

Understanding the biases you may have or the generalizations you tend to make about certain groups should be identified at the beginning – before a selection committee decides where to do outreach, how to screen a resume, or how to evaluate a candidate’s answers. Though identifying implicit biases involves some degree of self-reflection, there are external tools that can assist.

Sometimes, hiring managers and/or selection committee members may face allegations of discrimination and/or bias during the hiring process. When such a scenario arises, contact an Employee & Labour Relations Advisor in Human Resources Services for assistance and guidance.

Diversity and Equity Training

Training is a key component of diverse recruitment, promotion and retention. All senior leaders, hiring managers, selection committee members and staff involved in the hiring process are strongly encouraged to complete diversity and equity training that includes instruction on how to recognize and combat unconscious, implicit, overt, prejudicial and any other kinds of bias. This training also includes aspects of anti-oppression, anti-racism, cultural competency, accessibility and LGBTQ+ education.

Human Resources Services facilitates diversity and equity training for staff, in collaboration with the Equity and Inclusion Office, the Indigenous Studies Program, Equity Experts, Equity Officers, Equity Advisors and other equity-seeking groups or individuals, as necessary. Contact the Employment Equity Specialist in Human Resources Services or the designated equity officer/expert/advisor within your unit to discuss your training needs.