Fact Sheet #6b) Human Rights Responsibilities and Work Objectives

Level 2

Element: Leadership and Accountability

Outcome 6: Management is engaged in human rights culture change.

Indicator 6b): Human resources personnel or other resources have human rights responsibilities included in their work objectives.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Inclusion of human rights responsibilities in the performance accords (objectives) of human resources staff or other dedicated resource.
  • Evidence of response to or resolution of complaints.
  • Correction of policies as required.

Indicator Description

As your organization moves along the Human Rights Maturity Model (the Model) continuum, it is important to establish permanent structures and roles relating to human rights responsibilities. Adding specific human rights responsibilities to work objectives will form the foundation of a self-sustaining human rights culture in your workplace. Work objectives might be included in job descriptions, performance agreements, performance accords, or other places where individual employee goals are outlined. Most organizations will follow up on these work objectives during annual performance appraisals/reviews to help identify potential gaps and ensure overall accountability for your organizational goals.

At Level one, senior leadership is committed to meeting the requirements of both the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and Employment Equity Act (EEA), and to embarking on the Model's journey. Your organization began by engaging with employees and unions, and by designating resources for dealing with any potential discrimination complaints. At level two, your organization is now engaging in culture change by specifically defining human rights roles within your organization. At level two, these roles should be defined from within human resources or other specialized positions (such as a Diversity Coordinator).

Human rights responsibilities might include any number of tasks relating to anti-discrimination or employment equity: responsibility for creating and reviewing anti-discrimination policies, coordinating the creation of an employment equity plan, ensuring that training takes place on the CHRA and EEA, monitoring and improving human rights data collection, coordinating accommodation requests, developing and promoting diversity activities, etc.

Suggested Approach

  • Use the Model and business plans as roadmaps to determine what responsibilities should be undertaken: Consider what human rights responsibilities should be undertaken within your organization. You can use your current organizational goals, the HRMM and any action plan you have developed in relation to these to determine how to prioritize the implementation of each responsibility.  Be sure to focus on measurable and verifiable objectives that will make evaluating performance easier later on.
  • Establish performance expectations: Performance expectations should be mutually established and agreed upon. Any changes in work objectives should be discussed, and recorded. Whenever new responsibilities are created within an organization, it is a good practice to consult with the employees.  Doing this early in the process will ensure that changes take place in a more efficient and transparent way.
  • Determine what current resources and gaps exist in relation to fulfilling responsibilities; consider training and recruiting options: There may be a number of roles within your organization where individuals have been taking on certain responsibilities in an informal way. These individuals might be good candidates for taking on permanent human rights responsibilities, or they might be available to train others on processes.  By reviewing your original priorities, determine what gaps exist and where training or even hiring should be considered. Training activities should be focused on improving performance specific to the work objectives. Developmental recommendations should keep in mind human rights practioners’ career plan and their potential for advancement in the organization.
  • Evaluate performance against the original work objectives: During the performance appraisal/review period, the supervisor and the employee should discuss the original expectations and to what extent these were met. When job objectives are first assigned, it might be a good idea to schedule performance meetings more frequently to ensure understanding and provide support. 

Promising Practices

  • Include learning objectives as part of your performance appraisal process: Canadian federal public servants submit a learning plan along with their performance appraisal each year. This is signed by both the manager and the employee. This is a great way to build capacity while ensuring accountability for performance measures. Consider adding anti-discrimination and employment equity training to individual learning plans.
  • Create inclusive job posters: Many federally regulated employers have created jobs with human rights responsibilities included. These posters often include a diversity statement, as well as a statement about the employer’s willingness to accommodate. This helps to put applicants at ease and lends credibility to an organization’s diversity initiatives.

Useful links and tools

Key Leadership Competencies - Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada

Key Leadership Competencies: Frequently Asked Questions - Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada


Interim Performance Agreement and Appraisal Process - Canadian Forces Housing Agency

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