- What is preferential hiring?
- Do equity applicants have to meet job qualifications?
- In equity reports, can an employer count an employee more than once if that employee is a member of more than one equity group?
- Can education equity plans involve preferential hiring? How is this program different from federal initiatives?
- How is this program different from federal initiatives?
1. What is preferential hiring?
Employers cannot consider ancestry, gender or other prohibited grounds of discrimination in their hiring decisions – that would be a violation of the Human Rights Code. However, approval of an equity plan means an employer can choose to consider a prohibited ground in the hiring process, for the purpose of developing a representative workforce and within the context of certain limits established by the Human Rights Commission.
For example, an equity employer (one with an approved plan) may have five qualified applicants for a job opening, including one person with a disability. The person with a disability may or may not be the "most" qualified applicant; all five are qualified for the job, in the employer’s opinion. Employment equity plans are voluntary, and the employer is not required by the Human Rights Commission to hire the equity group candidate. However, the employer may choose to hire the person with a disability in order to promote equality goals and develop a workforce that is more representative of the working age population. In this example, the Commission’s approval makes it legal for the employer to consider disability in the hiring decision.
2. Do equity applicants have to meet job qualifications?
Yes. Equity candidates must be able to perform their jobs successfully; otherwise, they may be destined for failure and the workplace may suffer. Employers set the qualifications for each job. If they have approval for an equity plan, they may choose to hire an equity group member from among all applicants who have met these qualifications.
Equity sponsors may also hire equity candidates they consider "qualifiable." For example, employers wishing to develop a more representative workforce may decide to hire equity candidates they believe can do the job once they have received further training.
3. In equity reports, can an employer count an employee more than once if that employee is a member of more than one equity group?
Yes. For example, if an employee is an Aboriginal person with a disability, the employer can count that person as both an Aboriginal employee and an employee with a disability in its statistical reports to the Human Rights Commission. Both the employer and the employee in that situation are dealing with two different kinds of barriers to equality in the workplace. If the employer is making efforts to address both kinds of barriers, it is fair to acknowledge that fact. Similarly, it is reasonable to recognize both realities in the experience of the individual employee.
An exception may arise with regard to an employee who is both an Aboriginal person and a visible minority member – for example, someone of both Aboriginal and African ancestry. There is some overlap in the challenges faced by Aboriginal persons and visible minorities, including racist attitudes and assumptions. At the same time, the principle of self-identification is central to equity initiatives. An employer may ask the individual employee to choose whether to self-identify as an Aboriginal person or visible minority member. If the employee does not wish to make that choice, he or she should be counted in both groups.
The purpose of employment equity is to create a fairer, more equitable work environment and employment statistics are just one broad measure of progress towards that goal.
4. Can education equity plans involve preferential hiring?
Yes. One goal of education equity is to provide positive Aboriginal role models for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Currently, the representation of Aboriginal staff in provincial schools is far below their representation in both the working age population and the school age population. An approved education equity plan allows an educational institution to consider Aboriginal ancestry when hiring teaching and non-teaching staff.
5. How is this program different from federal initiatives?
The Saskatchewan approach to equity is different from the federal model. The SHRC program is voluntary, permissive and flexible, enabling partners to determine the shape of their equity plans and establish their own procedures, goals, and timetables. The program is grounded in just one section of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, section 55 (see Legal Framework). In contrast, the federal program is mandatory and the federal Employment Equity Act and Regulations contain detailed definitions, requirements and procedures.