Fact Sheet #28a) Involvement of Partners in Initiatives

Level 4

Element: Alignment of Policies and Processes

Outcome 28: Organization improves its human rights practices through partnerships.

Indicator 28a): Partners are involved in initiatives related to human rights. Organization shares promising human rights practices with its partners.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Documented special program partnership.
  • Documented consultations with partners on specific challenges and to implement human rights initiatives. 
  • Documented consultations with partners to assess and identify human rights impacts. Correspondence and communications related to human rights practices are shared with partners.
  • Minutes of meetings with partners documenting sharing of promising practices.
  • Promote the use of the Human Rights Maturity Model to clients and partners. 

Indicator Description

Organizations, regardless of their size, have the potential to learn from and support each other, as they strive to prevent discrimination. Initiatives that an organization may enter into with a partner are designed so that both entities respect human rights principles. This means involving your partners in the formation of policies and programs. Once promising practices relating to human rights have been identified within an organization, sharing those practices with other partners can have a positive impact on both internal and external stakeholders.

At Level 3, all internal policies take into account human rights when applicable.  At Level 4 partnerships are formed to advance human rights in the workplace and in the provision of services. Partnerships will ensure that all work by your organization and its partners is as inclusive as possible. 

An example of such a partnership occurred in the banking industry when a bank invited persons with different disabilities to evaluate the accessibility of different services in various branch offices. The group tested the doors, the lighting, the signage and the automatic wickets of these banks. While doing this, the bank representatives followed them and took notes. The required adjustments, which were made, resulting in better access for persons with disabilities.

Suggested Approach

Here are some points to consider as you develop your strategy:

  • Reach out to community organizations: The organization can partner with non Government Organizations, and other stakeholders representing the four groups designated in the Employment Equity Act, to develop a mechanism or program that would enhance the organization’s ability to provide its services to designated group members and members of other disadvantaged groups. [1]
  • Seek the involvement of your partners/suppliers: Partnerships can be formed to receive general input around change or to gather ideas for future human rights policies. Some are formed to benefit the work of a community or community organization, requiring the feedback of all stakeholders involved in the organization’s business. Other partnerships can help set the strategic direction for a product or service or to collaborate on specific human rights initiatives. No matter the type of partnerships, a level 4 organization works collaboratively with its partners/suppliers to achieve results.
  • Define a human rights promising practice: To share best practices, an organization must know what a human rights best practice is all about. A promising practice is an initiative that is primarily effective, efficient and relevant. Another way of saying this is that these are practices that work, are cost and time effective, and most importantly address human rights issues. You may decide to consider other criteria as you assess your own promising practices, such as sustainability, possibility for duplication and possibility for stakeholder engagement. [2]
  • Don’t forget that there best practices are about knowledge sharing and that there are typically 4 types of knowledge exchanged:  
    • Professional knowledge - This is the talent combined with education and experience that were required by the persons involved in the best practice. Sharing this information is pivotal for an organization who wants to duplicate a best practice.
    • Coordinating knowledge - This is the process, the rules, standards and routines that were followed while performing the best practice. Such knowledge provides partners with guidance on critical steps to follow.
    • Object-based knowledge - This is the concrete application of your best practice. By knowing how the best practice was conducted and how specific human rights concepts were applied, partners can start to see commonalities, possibilities and options.
    • Lessons learned knowledge - This provides a partner with the identification of who might be able to help resolve specific problems.

     The four types of knowledge are necessary to describe a best practice. An organization needs professional knowledge to perform activities, coordinating knowledge to implement a best practice, object-based knowledge to not reinvent the wheel and knowledge of the lessons learned to ensure that issues can be resolved and challenges/successes are shared. [3]

  • Share human rights promising practices with your partners (and vice versa):  Sharing best practices generates benefits for an organization: reduction of work duplication, process improvement, costs-saving, employee well-being and greater partners’ engagement. You can share your promising practices through communities of practice, committees, wikis or other interactive websites, joint training programs, working groups, etc.

Promising Practices

  • Sharing experiences with the Human Rights Maturity Model (the Model): Many federally regulated employers are taking part in the Model, which is a promising practice. Many of them have shared their experiences with the Model with their partners; this has resulted in further interest in the Model and, ultimately, better workplace cultures.
  • Sharing promising practices on mental health issues. In one region, representatives from various federal government departments have partnered to share promising practices and develop a regional mental health strategy.
  • Putting out a request on your website. An American association has put a request up on its website inviting other partner associations to submit their successful strategies on equity and diversity.

Useful Tools and Links

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Business for Social Responsibility 

Ethno-Cultural Council of Canada

Policy Statement and Guidelines for Public Participation - Department of Justice Canada

Merit - Achieving Representativeness - Public Service Commission of Canada

Quality Services - Guide VIII - Benchmarking and Best Practices - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Archived)

The Partnership Handbook - Service Canada


The Canadian Human Rights Act R.S.C.  c. H-6 (1985). 

Employment Equity Act S.C. c. 44 (1995). 

Frank, F. & Smith, A. (for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) (2000). The Partnership Handbook. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada p. 5. 

From Dimensions of Diversity in Canadian Business
Building A Case For Valuing Ethno cultural Diversity by Christine L. Taylor a Conference Board of Canada report from the Human Resources Research Group
Knowledge sharing: moving away from the obsession with best practices, PH Christensen - Journal of knowledge management, 2007 - emeraldinsight.com (Consulted February 20, 2013)



[1] Members of disadvantaged groups could include a member of any group identified in the grounds of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  
[2] This point summarizes some of the “Criteria for Selection of Best Practices” listed in Guide for Documenting and Sharing Best Practices in Health Programmes. (World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, 2008) p. 3 
[3] Knowledge sharing: moving away from the obsession with best practices, PH Christensen - Journal of knowledge management, 2007 - emeraldinsight.com (Consulted February 20, 2013)


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