Fact Sheet #5a) Human Rights Data Collection

Level 1

Element: Evaluation for Performance Measurement and Continuous Improvement

Outcome 5: Organization is collecting human rights basic data.

Indicator 5a): The organization collects basic quantitative anti-discrimination and employment equity data.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Demographic equity data that are submitted to and accepted by ESDC or Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS).
  • Record of workforce survey including human rights component.
  • Number of human rights complaints is recorded.

Indicator Description

Appropriate data collection plays an important role in creating strong human rights practices for organizations in the private and public sectors. It can help to monitor discrimination, to identify and remove systemic barriers, to prevent disadvantages, and to promote equality. Federally regulated organizations should, at minimum, collect two basic types of measurable information on human rights: data relating to grievances/complaints of discrimination; and data relating to employment equity.

At Level 1, the organization will begin to collect quantitative information about its workforce as required under the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and begin to collect quantitative information concerning anti-discrimination practices relating to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). Systems used to track this data can be separate, but their purposes are related. Tracking this data gives an organization a clear picture of its workforce for both employment equity and its handling of grievances/complaints of discrimination.

For example, a designated human resource officer or employee of the organization enters information related to human rights complaints in a spreadsheet. This information/data has been received by the organization as a result of decisions made by a grievance process, the Public Service Labour Relation Board, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission), or another process. Using information from the spreadsheet the human resource officer will be able to determine the number of complaints per year from each process, the number of complaints by region, or the number of complaints related to a specific ground of discrimination. The collection of this data helps the organization to get an overall picture of its workplace with regard to its human rights situation.

Suggested Approach

The organization collects data for both the employment equity requirements and their anti-discrimination complaints. It is important to ensure that this data is treated in a confidential manner. As such, the data should be kept in a discrete system. Here are two approaches for the two data collection processes: 

  • Collecting anti-discrimination data: At a minimum, the Level 1 organization gathers data about anti-discrimination complaints which includes the following elements:
    • Information identifying the complainant/grievance and respondent(s) in the complaint (name, address, contact details, Representative).
    • Summary/Nature of the complaint including the grounds, practice and jurisdiction.
    • Agency or authority responsible (the Commission, grievance under collective agreement, ICMS).
    • Resolution/remedy sought.
    • Mode of resolution: investigation, mediation, conciliation, adjudication, communication between parties or other self-directed resolution.
    • Outcome of complaint/grievance: complaint substantiated/rejected/settled: reasons.
    • Resolution/remedy obtained: apology/communication, change in practice/mitigation; restitution, indemnification, reinstatement.
    • Collecting annual aggregated data of complaints handling for reporting and internal tracking purposes.
  • Collecting employment equity data: At Level 1, the organization collects data in a manner that is consistent with statutory requirements; the organization will also keep its employment equity data separate from individual personnel files. It is important to ensure that data is collected in a way that respects relevant privacy and other applicable legislation. The use of the data also needs to be consistent with human rights legislation. For those employers reporting to the ESDC, the department maintains a web-based tool designed to capture data collected under the EEA. Access to this tool is by registration with the department. (See links at the end of this Fact Sheet for more details.) The organization can use several different sources for collecting this kind of information necessary to meet the requirements of the EEA including :
    • Pre-existing human resources or other official records.
    • Surveys.
    • Focus groups.
    • Exit interviews.
    • Ddata derived from workplace or point-of-service observations.

Promising Practices

  • Seeking informed consent: When collecting data, an organization informs employees, stakeholders and the broader public about why the data is being collected, and how it may potentially be used.

Useful Tools and Links

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act

Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Equity - Canadian Human Rights Commission

A Four-Step Guide to Implementing Employment Equity In Your Workplace - Federal Contractors Program

Frequently Asked Questions – Employment Equity Reporting Systems - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Self-Identification in the Federal Public Service: Yes, Count Me In! - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Count Me In: Collecting Human Rights-Based Data - Ontario Human Rights Commission

Complaints Management Fact Sheets: Monitoring Effectiveness - Queensland Ombudsman

Complaints Management Fact Sheets: Business Improvement - Queensland Ombudsman

Diversity Database - University of Maryland

A Guide to Developing Effective Complaints Management Policy and Procedures - Queensland Ombudsman

Program for Multi-Cultural Health - University of Michigan Health System


This fact sheet was developed in part using material from the publications of the Queensland Ombudsman titled Information for Queensland Public Sector Agencies: Effective Complaints Management Fact Sheets, Queensland Ombudsman’s Communication and Research Section; available online at www.ombudsman.qld.gov.au

“The Recipe: Designing A Capable and Effective Complaint Management Process” The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, www.valuingcomplaints.org.uk

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