Fact Sheet #14a) Managers’ Human Rights Responsibilities

Level 3

Element: Leadership and Accountability

Outcome 14: Management acts in accordance with their roles and responsibilities regarding human rights.

Indicator 14a): Managers and supervisors are meeting performance objectives on human rights responsibilities.

Possible Measures and Data Sources

  • Visibility of human rights advocates and designated group members in senior leadership positions.
  • Promotion/championship of human rights by the senior leadership.
  • Examples of inclusion of human rights responsibilities in work objectives of managers and supervisors.

Indicator Description

As leaders in an organization, managers and supervisors are responsible for dealing with discrimination, accommodation and harassment, in addition to ensuring that human rights are respected in the workplace and in the provision of services to the public. At this level of maturity, the organization will notice a shift from Human Resources being the primary ‘holder’ of all matters that fall within the human rights spectra to an environment where all management is held responsible for human rights within the organization. This enables the employer or service provider to promote an inclusive work and/or service provision environment.

Human rights responsibilities can be found in several pieces of legislation, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA), which fall within the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s mandate. Under the CHRA, employers, service providers and unions must take measures to eliminate disadvantages to employees, prospective employees or clients that result from a rule, practice or physical barrier that has or may have an adverse impact on individuals or groups protected under the CHRA or identified as a designated group under the EEA. The EEA requires that employers identify and eliminate employment barriers for designated group members that result from the employer’s employment systems, policies and practices. The goal is to institute positive policies and practices and make reasonable accommodations so that the representation of persons in designated groups in each occupational group of the employer’s workforce reflects their representation in the Canadian workforce.

A Level 3 the organization will include human rights competencies in its managers’/supervisors’ performance objectives, in order to maintain accountability within the Human Rights Maturity Model (the Model) framework and promote a human rights culture in the workplace. This will demonstrate the organization’s commitment to a workplace that promotes and sustains a human rights culture. If human rights responsibilities are clearly and formally recorded, it will be easier to assess these responsibilities and determine if they have been met/implemented.  

Suggested Approach

  • Regardless of the tool used, the idea surrounding the application of these tools is to identify where such accountability can be recorded and assessed.
  • Some organizations use performance accords, scorecards, business objectives, performance report cycles, and so forth, to specify these responsibilities and to ensure that management is accountable for the promotion and respect of a human rights culture. This component could be part of the evaluation for continuous improvement. For example, in the private or corporate sector, businesses operate according to their Business Ethics and Corporate Values. These ethics and values guide managers in the performance of their duties and in the fulfillment of their responsibilities.
  • Education and awareness are key to ensuring that managers and supervisors develop an awareness of their human rights responsibilities within the organization. This can be achieved through the Code of Values and Ethics of the organization, in addition to training, which is part of the Level 3 Capacity Building component of the Human Rights Maturity Model.
  • If the organization is proactive and looks at hiring individuals who value human rights there will be a greater probability that these objectives are met and will consequently lead to a positive outcome for the organization as a whole.
  • That being said, “everyone in an organization can make a difference, but those with a special responsibility, such as diversity, people management and development professionals, and line managers with dedicated responsibility for diversity, act as crucial change agents”. [1]

Promising Practices

  • Managing from core values: Use the values and ethics of the organization in order to define clearly the responsibilities of managers and supervisors.
  • Hiring for inclusion: Include human rights principles in the letter of offer for newly hired supervisors and managers.
  • Building core competencies: Include human rights competencies in the performance assessment of all supervisors and managers.
  • Learning to include human rights: Stress importance of continuous human rights learning. [2]

Useful links and tools

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Employment Equity Act

Federal Government Management Accountability Framework - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Diversity in Management Survey Report - Chartered Institute of Personnel Development

A Resource for Supervisors - Vancouver Island University

Human Rights at Work 2008- Ontario Human Rights Commission

Human Resources Services -University of Waterloo


Canadian Human Rights Act (R.S., 1985, c. H-6)
Employment Equity Act (1995, c. 44)

[1] Page 13, www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/415898DD-08E5-4A2B-807C-52A5353B76A3/0/divbussurv0307.pdf

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