Fact Sheet #1c) Resources for Complaints and Employment Equity

Level 1

Element: Leadership and Accountability

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

Indicator 1c): Human resources personnel or other resources have been identified by the organization for dealing with discrimination complaints and employment equity.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Documentation showing the name or position of the resource person.
  • Development and approval of human rights action items to meet Level 1 and move to Level 2.

Indicator Description

Identifying individuals, either in human resources or other leadership roles who have responsibility for dealing with discrimination complaints and employment equity is key to achieving compliance with both the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA). These individuals should be aware of human rights issues, good communicators and have skills in negotiation, conflict resolution and project management.

At Level 1 of the Model, persons assigned to deal with discrimination complaints and employment equity matters, are delegated with authority and provided with resources to carry out the necessary tasks associated with compliance with the CHRA and EEA.

For example, an organization may need to create accountability instruments such as a job description, terms of reference or specific mandate, for persons involved in its human rights and employment equity initiatives.

Suggested Approach

  • Consider your needs: Each organization will need to approach human rights and employment equity differently, depending on its size, complexity, governance structure, industry, sector, etc.
  • Determine what responsibilities will be undertaken: You may already have people who are wholly or partly responsible for certain tasks related to employment equity or discrimination complaints handling. Determine what other responsibilities should be undertaken and whether or not additional resources should be allocated.
  • Identify an individual for employment equity: The individual that you identify for employment equity will likely be a senior manager, or hold an advisory role that allows him or her to influence your organization’s strategic planning exercises (such as a senior HR advisor). The EEA requires a broad strategic approach, it may be appropriate that senior executives be accountable for initiating or implementing employment equity within your organization. Many organizations have assigned employment equity to Human Resources, but other approaches exist, such as identifying an Employment Equity Champion.
  • Identify an individual for discrimination complaints: The person that you identify for dealing with discrimination complaints should be the main point of contact in the event that a discrimination complaint is filed, through your internal process or with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. If possible, choose someone with experience in human resources, particularly labour relations, or someone with legal experience in labour or human rights law. Some organizations use a third party for all discrimination complaints handling, whereas others have created an internal human rights unit. Again, as mentioned above, each organization will take a different approach, based on its needs.

Promising Practices

Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer: Many employers, from the public and private sectors alike, are beginning to identify individuals to fill the role of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) within their organizations. A CDO’s role may vary from one organization to the next, but this person should generally be in charge of an organization’s overall diversity strategy. A CDO could be in charge of many diversity related working units, such as employment equity, alternate dispute resolution and complaints handling. One Canadian province recently appointed a CDO to promote and manage diversity and accessibility within their public service.

Useful Tools and Links

Guidelines for the Employment Equity Act and Regulations - Guideline 1: Getting Started (provides a list of responsibilities that could be carried out by an Employment Equity Coordinator) - Employment and Social Development Canada

Human Rights Handbook for First Nations - Preparing a Response to a Discrimination Complaints - National Aboriginal Initiative - Canadian Human Rights Commission

A Message from the Chief Officer - Diversity and Accessibility, OPS - Government of Ontario


Employment and Social Development Canada. "Guideline 1: Getting Started." Guidelines for the Employment Equity Act and Regulations. Web. 24 July 2012.

Employment and Social Development Canada. "Step 1 – Initiating an Employment Equity Program." A Four Step Guide to Implementing Employment Equity in Your Workplace - Federal Contractors Program. Web. 24 July 2012.

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