Fact Sheet #1b) Promoting the Change

Level 1

Element: Leadership and Accountability

Outcome 1: Senior leadership is committed to meeting the requirements of both the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA), and to embarking on the HRMM journey.

Indicator 1b): Senior leadership has started to engage with employees, employee associations/unions to promote the change.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Minutes of meetings available.
  • Information accessible to all employees.

Indicator Description

Working at creating a culture change cannot be done in a vacuum. The workplace is a dynamic environment that involves employees, employee associations/unions, organizations and often communities.  Leaders must therefore develop strategies to understand whether or not there is a supportive environment for their human rights vision, as well as what the concerns and the common interests are. To do so, it is expected that they engage at the onset of the HRMM journey with employees and employee associations/unions.

At level 1, engaging employees means that they have been informed about the HRMM. This contributes positively to the organization starting on a journey to create a sustainable human rights culture that leads to increased productivity and reduced absences. Indeed, engaging with employees to promote a human rights culture will create a foundation for future change, as well as contribute to overall employee well-being. Developing various ways to engage employees and employee associations/unions will help you to implement all of the other initiatives within the HRMM with greater ease.

For example, you may engage employees by holding meetings or town hall sessions, giving presentations, having one-on-one discussions with employees, and by acting in accordance with anti-discrimination values when interacting with employees.

Suggested Approach

The following is an approach for engaging employees in the HRMM process that you may use to promote human rights in your workplace.

  • Form a Steering Committee/Working Group: The HRMM implementation should begin with the formation of an integrated, multidisciplinary steering committee and/or working group. Senior leadership should select people from a range of organizational units, with varied backgrounds, skills and areas of expertise who have strong interpersonal problem-solving skills. Unions should be involved from the beginning. A dedicated team broadly representing the organization’s various groups fosters the coordination needed to undertake assessments and develop effective action plans. Four factors influence the success of a HRMM team: commitment, composition, operations and roles and responsibilities of individual members, see Appendix A of the Implementation Guide. Appendix B of the Guide offers approaches to the composition and operating plan of a steering team.
  • Conduct a self-assessment using the HRMM:
    • Self-assessment determines the organization’s current HRMM level and identifies initial areas for improvement. The Human Rights Maturity Model Self-Assessment Workbook is part of the HRMM on-line tool.
    • In many cases, a gap analysis follows the initial self-assessment. The gap analysis identifies the indicators, elements and outcomes the organization must complete to reach a specific HRMM level. Following this analysis, the organization’s current HRMM level will be evident.
  • Set clear expectations: Leaders should clearly explain what they hope to achieve. Understanding and explaining what their goals are demonstrates leadership.
  • Seek input: Once you have described what your goals are, give employees a chance to participate in discussions related to how you intend to reach your goals. If employees point out obstacles, show appreciation for their insight and ask them for ideas on how to overcome these obstacles. Be sure to include employee associations/unions in these discussions.
  • Look for a commitment: Full engagement requires both an emotional and intellectual commitment. Allow people to ask questions and share concerns that might make them less than 100% committed to the objective(s) that you are working towards achieving. Make a conscious decision to listen to any fears with an open mind.
  • Share information: Lack of information can be a major barrier to employee engagement. Make sure that you are explaining why you want to achieve a culture where human rights are respected. You can link your goals to current strategies or policies, a business case, organizational trends, legal requirements and general employee well-being.
  • Provide feedback: Meet with employees to provide them with updates on your organization’s progress. Talk about what you have noticed in the culture, as well as what changes are being made to policies, processes, services and anything else that is linked to your goals. Providing feedback in a timely way will help keep the momentum going in your initiatives.
  • Give recognition: Recognition comes in many forms. In some situations a simple “thank you” can show an employee that they are valued. Generally, when providing employees with positive feedback, try to be specific about what you have noticed and what you appreciated. For example, “Thank you for your commitment to this initiative, your leadership with your colleagues has really helped create a positive and respectful place to work”, or “Great work on creating those terms of reference, they were really clear and well organized. This will make our meetings so much easier!”

Promising Practices

Encourage discussion: One federally regulated employer has integrated a decision-making model into their workplace to help foster employee engagement and reduce conflict in the workplace. This model explains different types of consensus, and encourages employees to keep discussing an issue until everyone in the room is emotionally and intellectually committed to it.

Useful Tools and Links

Workplace Well-being, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act


Control, Opportunity & Leadership: A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace. Psychometrics Canada Ltd., Web. 24 July 2012. Website

Lexicon: Human Resources Planning Guide. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Web. 24 July 2012.

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