Frequently asked questions


Why does UVic use preferential and limited hiring?

Despite UVic's efforts to hire fairly, some groups of employees continue to be underrepresented in our workforce. This underrepresentation is a loss of valuable people and perspectives for our university, and unfair for those people who are denied opportunities because of biases or unintended barriers. Preferential and limited hiring enables us to actively close these gaps in representation and bring in the qualified people we need to grow.


Is it legal to prefer some groups for a hire?

Preferential and limited hiring is one of a number of tools to achieve equity in employment. UVic has approval by the Office of the BC Human Rights Commissioner to use this hiring tool as a "special measure" to achieve our employment equity goals. This hiring tool can also be used by the Canada Research Chair Program when we do not meet diversity goals.


Will there be enough qualified applicants if we do a limited hire?

Committees are often pleased to discover the number of qualified candidates in a particular group once they have made the effort to reach out and invite applications. Your committee can also conduct some preliminary outreach to start to get a sense of the pool before deciding on a limited versus preferential hire.


Preparing the proposal

How do we know our unit is ready for a preferential or limited hire?

There are some things to look for as evidence that your unit is ready for a preferential or limited hire.

  • Plan of support for a new hire
  • Unit conversations about representation gaps and the need for preferential or limited hiring
  • Training on creating a welcoming environment that values the contributions of a diversified population.
  • Actions and processes in play to create a welcoming environment and facilitate retention

If these don’t exist yet, we encourage you to work on them so you will be ready and so that you will provide a better environment for all in your unit.

What are appropriate rationales for using preferential or limited hiring?

There are many possible rationales for using this policy. Consult about the following considerations, and see what additional ones emerge:

  • Addressing representation gaps at UVic as a whole and within your unit (see EQHR for support).
    • UVic’s Employment Equity Survey shows that we are below the known national and BC availability of racialized people or people of colour and people with disabilities/disabled persons among continuing staff, faculty, and librarians. 
    • For an overview of representation at UVic, see our current data.
  • Increasing diversity to enhance the work of the unit.
  • Valuing diverse representation in public-facing roles, and especially in leadership/executive positions.
    • Research within six countries have shown that companies which have greater gender and ethnic diversity outperform by 33% compared to their industry peers while companies with the least diversity are more likely to underperform compared to their peers by 29%. 
    • For an overview of representation at UVic, see our current data.
  • Growing diversity of students and subsequent need to support with an increasingly diverse employee group.
  • Expanding capacity for underrepresented groups to engage in equity work. If this work is needed, ensure that it is clearly part of the job description. Also ensure that members of underrepresented groups face no more pressure than other employees to engage in this work.
  • Addressing known biases in hiring. Review the page on unconscious biases in employment.

Where can we get data about representation in our unit?

EQHR can provide this data on request. Owing to confidentiality requirements, the data is available at the faculty and VP portfolio level. Please email Braeden McKenzie, Equity Data and Research Analyst at  to learn more. 

Writing the job description

What consultation should we do within the unit?

We recommend beginning with consultation and education about the needs for, concerns about, and processes of preferential and limited hiring. Building a collective understanding paves the way for a positive reception of the hired candidate in the unit. Consultation on why this tool might be needed also provides valuable information about needs and opportunities related to underrepresented groups that are important for the job posting.

How do we write a job posting for a preferential or limited hire?

Review the relevant job description to ensure you have removed biases and it reflects the needs and desired skills going forward. Then, based on unit consultation, embed equity and diversity knowledge and skills related to prioritized underrepresented identities into the criteria and job posting. Some examples for faculty and instructors are found in the hiring process page.

We also encourage units to tailor the territory acknowledgment to reflect the particular work, knowledge, experiences and commitments of the unit.  

Hiring process

What is a “deep and diverse pool” of candidates?

This phrase (Sec. 7.00 a) encourages committees to take active steps to invite a wide range of candidates to apply, recognizing the intersectional and complex identities of all the candidates within any particular group. The words are a reminder that we need to continue to take steps to be equitable, even when reviewing applicants from within a single designated group.

How long will it take to recruit someone?

It should not take much additional time to do the work for a preferential or limited hire. Additional steps include gathering some information prior to posting the job, (see Steps to Preferential and Limited Hiring) and focused outreach. The unit will also want to ensure that they are well-prepared for creating a welcoming environment during the interviews and post-hire. This is work that is increasingly important for all searches.

If the search is preferential, and a candidate is not found from the self-identified pool, the committee will need to either repost or start reviewing the applicants who did not self-identify. 


What happens in a preferential hire if there are only 1-2 candidates that meet the standard to be interviewed?

The committee then only interviews those candidates. If it finds someone who meets the criteria and is thus suitable to be hired, they can hire the person. However, if none of the final candidates meets the criteria, then they move to the larger pool. Sometimes they will choose to repost the job posting to increase the size of the applicant pool.


In a preferential search, when does the committee review applications from the preferential pool?

The committee should initially only see and review those in the preferential pool. They will complete a full recruitment process using just these applicants. If they do not successfully hire someone from the preferential pool, then they can go to the larger pool. Keeping the non-self-identified applications out of the committee’s initial review helps remove some of the negative impacts of unconscious biases on evaluation of candidates within the preferential pool.

What if a candidate doesn’t self-identify or doesn’t do this in a clear way that the committee can understand?

For various reasons, committees may be unclear about the self-identification of applicants or may believe a candidate is a member of a designated group even if they have not declared this. Committees cannot make assumptions about the identity of candidates, or making individual inquiries into how a specific candidate identifies. We suggest every committee use a standardized process whereby the administrative assistant sends a standardized inquiry to each candidate who does not clearly self-identify in their application (see hiring statements). Once the job posting is closed, the committee will only consider those who have clearly self-identified, regardless of any additional information they may have.


After the hire

What will others think about candidates hired through preferential or limited hiring?

Bringing in a new colleague through preferential and limited hiring requires engagement and preparation. A unit that has been working on strategies to advance equity and engage with diversity will be better prepared to welcome someone hired through this policy. In addition, leaders can clarify the operational need for bringing in a candidate who is a member of one or more of the designated groups, and clearly articulate the value that such candidates will bring.

This work extends to creating the job posting that embeds skills and knowledge related to these aspects of identity. This can reflect consultation within the unit and becomes part of the public record as to why such a hire is sought.

All hires at UVic are expected to meet standards for excellence as described in the job posting and collective agreement. We encourage leadership and allies to uphold these standards and regularly engage with the unit regarding how UVic is building inclusive excellence to broaden and deepen skills and knowledge at the university.

What can units do to support those hired through preferential and limited hiring?

Supporting new colleagues begins with engaging in a good search process as described in the earlier sections. The unit needs to begin preparing a welcoming climate well before the search begins.

In addition, preparations for onboarding and mentoring the new colleague are essential, including welcoming activities, introductions, connection with mentorship programs or colleagues who can provide support and engagement in the work of the unit. Finally, leaders should ensure that they follow up with their new colleagues over time to provide support and become aware of any concerns that may need to be addressed.