Fact Sheet #17a) Proactive External Consultation

Level 3

Element: Communication and Consultation

Outcome 17: Organization consults proactively on all aspects of human rights.

Indicator 17a): Organization consults external partners to enhance service delivery and policies.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Record of meetings/consultations with groups representing diverse communities.
  • Improvement in service delivery and policies resulting from discussions with external partners.

Indicator Description

Once the organization has achieved Level 2, it has a structure for internal consultations regarding anti-discrimination and employment equity (See Fact Sheet #8a)). At Level 3 of the Human Rights Maturity Model, consultation becomes proactive, involves contacts with other organizations, and relates to all aspects of human rights. It leads to action based on the information shared.

“Participants should have influence over the outcome and stake in implementing any action agreed upon.” [1]

The organization meets with other organizations to discuss issues which impact on the human rights standards applied to their own employees and/or clients.

These external partners may be in similar lines of work. They may link to the organization by sharing best practices and lessons learned. Or they could be expert organizations that provide advice or services. Or they could be interested groups or clients sharing their own experience with the organization.

The organization may adjust their policies, practices, and services to reflect the information gathered during the consultations. It may also create new policies, practices, and services to address concerns raised by external partners.

“Consultation is the dynamic process of dialogue between individuals or groups, based upon a genuine exchange of views, with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programs of action.” [2]

Suggested Approach

  • Planning the consultation: 
    • Clearly identify the goal(s) of the consultation.
    • Determine which groups, individuals, or organizations will be consulted (interested parties, parties with experience in the matter at stake, parties that will be affected by potential new measure or policies, etc.).
    • Define roles and responsibilities of all parties.
    • Ensure that all documents and the location of the consultation are accessible. [3]
  • Carrying out the consultation: 
    • Manage the relationships.
    • Manage the information gathered.
    • Manage all the logistical requirements.
  • After the consultation: 
    • The results of the consultation should be available to the participants.
    • Recognition of the consulted groups in a final report would also reinforce the relationship and conclude the consultation process.

Promising Practices

  • Creating a stakeholder advisory committee: An advisory committee is a way to formalize the on-going relationship with external partners. It can provide feedback on policies and service protocols as well as feed the business planning process.
  • Contacting specialized non-governmental agencies: There are a variety of non-governmental agencies with expertise in human rights related issues. Organizations may consult these non-governmental agencies to enhance their hiring policies, especially with regards to designated group members or to improve their employee retention program.
  • Involving targeted organizations:  An organization that creates a special program (under the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Employment Equity Act) may involve other organizations which will coach applicants for the program, such as involving Native Friendship Center employees to be part of a committee managing an aboriginal special program.

Useful links and tools

Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act

CAMO Personnes handicapées (Available in French only)

Guide to Planning Inclusive Meetings and Conferences - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Aboriginal Training and Services - Kagita Mikam

Plain language Style Guide - British Columbia Securities Commission

The Consultation Charter - Consultation Institute


Guidelines on Effective Community Involvement and Consultation - The Royal Town Planning Institute

Proposed ATRC Guidelines for an Effective Public Consultation Process - International Telecommunication Union

Sterne, Peter; Zagon, Sandra; Public Consultation Guide: Changing the relationship between government and Canadians, in Management Practices No.19, Canadian Centre for Management Development, 1997, 87 pages

[1] Sterne, Peter; Zagon, Sandra; Public Consultation Guide: Changing the relationship between government and Canadians, in Management Practices No.19 , Canadian Centre for Management Development, 1997, page 13

[2] The Consultation Institute, The Consultation Charter, (June 2009)

[3] Please see the Government of Canada’s Guide to Planning Inclusive Meetings and Conferences and British Columbia Securities Commission, Plain language style guide, 2002

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