Diversity at Work
Legislation and Policies
Human rights legislation is put in place to protect people from discrimination. It seeks to guarantee people equal treatment regardless of a particular identity or historical oppression in relation to employment, offers of employment and in other instances not related to employment.
Most human rights complaints come from the workplace. As organizations strive to create better communities through their missions, it is important that they also work at creating inclusive workplaces that are respectful and welcoming of diversity. Legislation outlines legal requirements of employers; however, the greater goal is not just about legal compliance but nurturing a cultural of acceptance in our workplaces.
Two pieces of federal legislation set the groundwork for creating workplace diversity and supporting an inclusive workplace:
Ensures improved job opportunities for four specific groups: women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities.
Entitles all individuals to equal opportunities without regard to race or colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex (including pregnancy or childbirth), pardoned conviction, disability (either physical or mental or as the result of dependence on alcohol or drugs) or sexual orientation.
Provincial and territorial legislation
Jurisdictions: Practically all voluntary and non-profit organizations fall under provincial/territorial jurisdiction for human rights legislation.
Each province has slightly different grounds for discrimination - please see the Human Rights Legislation page of the HR Toolkit for links to provincial and territorial websites regarding human rights.
Workplace diversity policies
It is very important to support intentions with policies and procedures. Policies and procedures both communicate the values of your organization plus provide everyone with a consistent process to follow.
In general, creating an inclusive and supportive workplace involves:
A policy on workplace diversity:
- Makes a commitment to anti-discriminatory practices and fosters equal opportunity through the removal of systemic barriers
- Can reinforce compliance with human rights legislation
- Is a statement of an organization's values
The HR Policies and Employment Legislation section of the HR Toolkit includes sample workplace diversity and harassment policies.
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