Fact Sheet #21a) Human Rights Training

Level 3

Element: Capacity Building and Resources

Outcome 21: Organization has adequate capacity and resources to address Level 3 outcomes of each element.

Indicator 21a): Human rights training offered to staff regardless of specific roles and responsibilities.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Number of designated staff trained on anti-discrimination and employment equity.
  • Number of ongoing human rights orientation training sessions.
  • Percentage of employees and managers trained on anti-discrimination and employment equity (e.g. duty to accommodate, anti-harassment, diversity, etc.).

Indicator Description

The organization recognizes the added value of a proactive approach to addressing human rights matters in the workplace and their points of service.  Therefore, the organization would strive to identify and address discriminatory actions in a proactive manner. By being proactive, human rights training can encompass several areas within the human rights/anti-discrimination sphere, such as return-to-work training, managing accommodation in the workplace, training related to specific grounds of discrimination, and internal conflict management systems. This type of training goes beyond basic concepts of anti-discrimination and employment equity, and would be offered to employees who want to perfect their knowledge in these fields.  

At Levels 1 and 2, resources were allocated to different activities to develop knowledge and skills on human rights and Employment Equity for senior management, human resources personnel and managers. This was done so management would acquire the knowledge related to human rights to understand and to address challenges in the workplace. At Level 3, specialized training on human rights is available to all employees who want to develop knowledge in this specific field. It is now extended to different targeted audiences in relation to their roles and responsibilities such as union representatives, members from employee associations, management, supervisors, senior leadership and non-management employees. In order to ensure the sustainability of a human rights culture within the workforce and the workplace, all members of the organization should be working together toward this goal. 

For example, an organization may increase awareness by providing anti-discrimination and Employment Equity training for all employees. The training may address diversity within the scope of specific roles and responsibilities. Feedback will provide insight on the impact of the diversity training on different levels of staff, as well as the percentage of people that received the training. Training may be offered in different formats such as on-the-job training.

Suggested Approach

  • As previously highlighted in Fact Sheet #16a) & 16b), it is suggested that organizations work collaboratively with all staff in order to achieve and promote a human rights culture in the workplace and effective training opportunities.  Training opportunities that are inclusive of all levels of the organization can foster an environment that has open communication.
  • Training can be delivered in a manner that includes everyone and that respects their special training needs (such as in the case of learning disabilities).
  • Training session material should be readily available and easily accessible to all employees (accessible format options, electronic versions on the intranet, etc).
  • The number and types of training sessions should be recorded in order to assist in determining what employment sectors require further training and who has received specialized training.
  • It is suggested that the organization ‘triggers’ training that really grasps issues/concerns that are experienced within the workplace (i.e. to look inside their workplace and determine what specialized training would meet the needs of their workforce/clients).
  • Mandatory human rights training should be offered: Organizations that provide specialized training to all employees, in addition to management, may very likely see a reduction in complaints and discriminatory practices in the workplace. A more knowledgeable staff will ensure a sustainable human rights culture.
  • Human rights training should be expanded to include new trends: Organizations can use their employment equity networks or other committees, as well as their performance measurement framework, to gain insight on new human rights challenges within the workplace. By gathering this information and looking at it with a learning lens, an organization can be proactive in offering awareness session.
  • Human rights should be included in learning policy:  Learning is a shared responsibility. The richness of a learning organization comes from its diversity of people and of their ideas and perspectives. For organizations, it is important to reflect diversity; different cultures, backgrounds and experiences build the organization’s core competency and overall culture. Managers and employees at every level have a role to play in creating a continuous learning environment related to human rights.

Promising Practices

  • Include human rights training in orientation sessions: Several federally regulated organizations offer mandatory human rights training to their new employees as a means of ensuring that there is a mutual understanding of basic human rights principles and more specific human rights concepts (e.g. anti-harassment and duty to accommodate).  This encourages a workplace culture that is respectful of diversity.
  • Link human rights training to competency profiles: Competencies are defined as the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours that employees use in performing their work. In practical terms, competencies are the traits or behaviours that allow employees to achieve success in their roles. Several employers have introduced human rights skills to their framework for the hiring, development, promotion and evaluation of employees.

Useful links and tools

The Ontario Human Rights Commission web site offers numerous tools to support businesses

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

P&G, Company, Who we Are, Diversity


Building Community Capacity - Competency Profile for Federal Public Service Evaluation Professionals (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada offers helpful online guides and manuals:

Some Useful Steps to Follow When Introducing Work-Life Balance Practices into Your Organization

Rights, Respect and Dignity: Interface of Labour Standards and Human Rights (Beyond Sexual Harassment)

Guide to Violence Prevention in the Workplace - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Labour Focus Newsletter - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Guidelines for the Employment Equity Act and Regulations - Guideline 6: Employment Systems Review - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Good Practices for Employers Covered by the Employment Equity Act - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada


Treasury Board of Canada, Policy on Learning, Training, and Development


Business strategies for sustainable development

Diversity Management The Challenges And Opportunities

Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers (U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

Keeping the Right People - Performance Management - HR Council

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