Fact Sheet #16a) & 16b) Proactive Consultation and Joint Promotion of Human Rights

Level 3

Element: Communication and Consultation

Outcome 16: Employees/employee associations/unions actively promote human rights principles.


16a): Employees/employee associations/unions and management cooperate and/or support communication on anti-discrimination, employment equity and conflict resolution concepts or initiatives.

16b): Employees/employee associations/unions and management cooperate and/or support training on human rights matters.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Announcement of joint initiatives (e.g., training).
  • Minutes of meeting regarding anti-discrimination/employment equity/informal; conflict management system design and implementation.
  • Message of support from employee associations/unions for organization’s human rights training.
  • Employees/employee associations/unions and management co-design/deliver training.


Indicator Description


At Level 3 of the Human Rights Maturity Model (the Model), consultation is proactive and relates to all aspects of human rights.  It involves management, employees and unions/employee associations. The organization actively and cohesively promotes human rights principles within the workplace and within the organization’s service provision areas (if applicable).

Unions, employees and employee associations have a leadership role to play to strive to create a spirit of collaboration and cooperation between themselves and management.  Responsibility and accountability for the success of human rights related programs, at this level, not only rest on the human resources sector within the organization but within all operational units. 

Joint initiatives are developed and carried out by the union, employees and employee associations, in collaboration with management.  Organizing joint initiatives within your organization could be done with the help of a communications strategy as well as holding consultations with targeted groups. Initiatives and consultations could be recorded via minutes in order to demonstrate one’s commitment to a collaborative human rights culture. 

In many organizations, employees are not unionized but, rather, represented by employee associations.  Given this reality, it is recommended that organizations factor in employee associations, in addition to employees that are not represented by either a union or employee association.  For example, joint training on human rights issues is an area that enables individuals to grow and empower themselves in an environment where open communication and a free flow of information is encouraged and where there is opportunity for joint collaboration.

Suggested Approach

  • The Model encourages organizations to work collaboratively with employees, unions and employee associations, in order to achieve and promote a human rights culture within the workplace and effective training opportunities. It is suggested that the organization apply the following criteria: 
    • Identify opportunities for partnership with unions, employee associations and employees.
    • Assess training needs and explore training needs in partnership with the union, employee association and employees.
    • Collaborate on a training plan that will meet the needs of all groups; that is realistic, viable and provides suitable accommodation for individuals who may require different training methods.
  • Given the reality that employees are not always unionized, it is also suggested that organizations at Level 3 of the Model, include employee associations and employees when implementing human rights or employment equity training programs or other initiatives.  This would ensure greater collaboration and support from unions and employee associations and their membership.
  • Joint support may enable the organization to develop new training initiatives and improve practices and policies that may eliminate barriers.  These training initiatives should focus on and be specifically designed/tailored to employees’ needs, while maximizing available resource potential. 
  • Implementing joint initiatives within an organization could be done with the use of a communications strategy and collaborative consultations with employees, unions and employee associations (See Fact Sheet #15a)) for information on Proactive Communication). For example, an effective communications strategy could include joint announcements/messages of support from the organization and employee associations/unions.
  • Organizations could also develop events to promote their joint initiatives and input such initiatives in their annual report in order to demonstrate their intention to maintain a human rights culture in the workplace. 

Promising Practices

  • Participating in a Joint Learning Program (JLP) between the organization’s unions/employee associations and management.  The objectives of a JLP are to improve labour relations and increase the understanding of the roles of both the unions/employee associations and management in the workplace. [1] These could assist at organization in achieving Level 3 of the HRMM, given the collaborative and consultative nature of this program.
  • Participating in labour-management partnership programs that provide funding to unions/employee associations/organizations for “projects that promote innovative workplace practices and cooperative approaches designed to build and maintain constructive working relationships”. [2]
  • Co-sponsoring awareness activities with the involvement of employees, unions and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) in order to promote diversity and display a commitment to human rights in the workplace.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also developed a tool that encompasses the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a labour-management partnership. The ILO emphasizes that a successful partnership must incorporate the following in order to maintain a conducive workplace culture:
    • An environment that respects and values all employees.
    • A willingness to share power.
    • Open and candid sharing of information.
    • Joint decision-making and agreement reached through consensus.
    • Cooperation.
    • Problems identified and solved jointly. [3]

Useful links and tools

Joint Learning Program Strategic Partnerships

Labour-Management Partnerships Program - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

The "Nuts and Bolts" of Labour Management Partnership – International Labour Organization

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