Fact Sheet #24a) Partnerships to Foster Human Rights

Level 4

Element: Leadership and Accountability

Outcome 24: Senior leadership ensures organization has built relations with external partners with respect to human rights.

Indicator 24a): Organization has partnerships with a third party to help foster human rights.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Evidence of partnership approved by senior leadership.

Indicator Description

In the context of the Human Rights Maturity Model (the Model), a partnership with a third party is a cooperative relationship between at least two organizations to further the advancement of human rights or employment equity related initiatives. To be true partners, both organizations must enter into an agreement to work together to achieve a common goal, share resources and mutually benefit from the outcome. To be successful, a partnership needs to be supported by senior leadership from within both organizations.

Throughout the first three levels of the Model, internal partnerships were formed to develop operational strategies and to implement policies, practices and training. These partnerships brought people together from across working units to be part of teams, committees, working groups and other initiatives that furthered the advancement of the Model, human rights and employment equity. There may also have been partnerships between leadership, human resources, unions or employee representatives. At Level 4 there is now an impetus to partner with external organizations and to consider human rights issues outside of your organization. 

Here are some examples of partnerships that seek to further the advancement of human rights: an interdepartmental forum on employment equity, a working group between organizations to develop a mental health strategy, partnering to develop and deliver training on human right in the workplace.

Suggested Approach

Partnerships may take many forms: a committee or working group (consultative),  an advisory council (advisory), a community of practice (operational), a joint initiative (contributory), or other formalized agreements, such as a memorandum of understanding, that have been established with the aim of working together to achieve a common goal. This allows organizations to share knowledge and to leverage or share resources to foster human rights, which can, in turn, reduce costs and promote well-being by creating a sense of community. 

Here are some steps to consider as you set up your partnerships:

  • Assess your organization’s needs: Before entering into, or seeking out a partnership with a third party, consider what human rights trends and priorities exist in your workplace. Assess your organization’s current status in terms of diversity, employment equity, complaint management, appropriate dispute resolution systems, human rights training, human rights performance measurements systems, etc.
  • Get leadership involved: Leadership can demonstrate a visible commitment to the human rights partnership by being present when the ground rules are being set and by endorsing formalized agreements. When leadership checks in periodically and attends meetings from time to time, this too can help ensure that there will be continued support for the project through employee engagement, continued resource support and strategic integration
  • Choose appropriate partners: Once areas for potential improvement have been identified, seek out partners that perhaps you have not worked with before but who have either specialized knowledge or who are interested in sharing resources toward developing solutions to human rights issues in your workplace. Decide what organizations would most align with your human rights strategic needs, while taking into account your workplace culture,industry and size.
  • Decide on a vision for your partnership. Within the context of the HRMM, the vision of your partnership should be related to promoting a human rights culture in the workplace. This might mean looking for preventative approaches to reducing discrimination, improving existing human rights related mechanisms, or exploring ways to more fully address legislative human rights and employment equity requirements.
  • Set the ground rules. Each initiative that is undertaken through this partnership should have an assigned chair or leader who is responsible for overseeing each project to completion. There may be a number of issues to discuss, such as terms of reference, reporting relationships, decision making,confidentiality, human resources, time commitment, financial costs, etc. Discussing and documenting these issues at the beginning of your partnership can even contribute to team building, as the group shares and works together for the first time. In doing so, ensure that your rules take into account inclusivity and accessibility.

Promising Practices

  • Promoting your partnerships: Many organizations post the results of their partnership initiatives and proudly display their accomplishments, both internally and externally. Creating awareness about the partnerships, on your internal and external websites and talking about them at gatherings, can generate support and enthusiasm for the work being done.
  • Partnering with non governmental organizations (NGO’s) as part of your employment equity plan:  Many organizations have partnered with NGOs that represent members of the four employment equity designated groups. These partnerships involve initiatives such as employment or development programs, prevention activities to reduce systemic discrimination, awareness activities, and many other initiatives.

Useful Tools and Links

CAMO, for person with disabilities (In French only)

Overview, Preventing Discrimination - Canadian Human Rights Commission

Indigenous Peoples Partnership Program - Canadian International Development Agency

Interdepartmental Forum on Employment Equity – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Partnership Handbook  - Flo Frank and Anne Smith

Ready for Business: Canada’s Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Businesses as Equal Partners – Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The United Nations Global Compact


Frank, Flo. & Smith, Anne. (for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada). The Partnership Handbook. Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2000.

Dent, Stephen M. Partnering Intelligence: Creating Value for Your Business by Building Strong Alliances. Palo Alto, California: Davies-Black Publishing, 1999

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