Fact Sheet #6c) Employment Equity and Job Competencies

Level 2

Element: Leadership and Accountability

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

Indicator 6c): Organization has introduced employment equity in managers’ job competencies, as well as performance objectives on human rights responsibilities.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Examples of managers’ job descriptions which include reference to human rights responsibilities.
  • Examples of manager’s performance objectives which include references to human rights responsibilities.

Indicator Description

Updating management’s performance objectives and job competencies to emphasize the importance of human rights and diversity is an important part of planning for and making measurable progress towards a human rights culture.

A performance objective is part of a strategic plan and consists of individual goals that will serve as the basis for performance appraisals. Performance objectives are active pursuits that may change from one year to the next based on the strategic outcomes identified by your organization. They might be included in performance agreements, performance accords, or other places where individual employee goals are outlined.

The Treasury Board of Canada defines competencies as “the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours that employees use in performing their work”[1]. In practical terms, competencies are the traits or behaviours that allow employees to achieve success in their roles by providing the opportunity to learn and develop, to demonstrate individual effectiveness in their roles, and to provide a framework for hiring and promotions within the organization. Competencies are often found in job descriptions and competency profiles for specific positions within your organization. Like performance objectives, they may be taken into consideration during individual employee performance appraisals.

At Level one, senior leadership committed to meeting the requirements of both the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and Employment Equity Act (EEA), and to embarking on the Human Rights Maturity Model (HRMM) journey. At Level 2, your organization will build job competency profiles to outline ways in which management should implement employment equity principles. Management’s performance objectives will include goals that will help increase representation of designated group members (DGM) in the workplace, and assist in integrating anti-discrimination activities into your organization’s structure and daily practices.

There are many examples of how your organization might achieve this particular indicator. Here is an example of a competency that implements employment equity principles: “Management understands issues from the designated group member client’s perspective”[2]. A performance objective that might be included in a performance agreement could include a commitment to staff the next available position by a member of a visible minority group.

Suggested Approach

At Level 2, the organization will ensure that key leadership competencies for managers are well understood, and that those become the basis for evaluation of managers’ performance. This can allow the organization’s employment equity strategy to become an opportunity for leadership within the organization and in the industry.

  • Include human rights competencies in your competency profile:  Creating a competency profile encourages employees to adopt attitudes and behaviors directly related to the operational needs of the organization, its strategic vision and the harmonization of its organizational culture.
  • Consider the following groups of job-specific competencies to help create or enhance your competency profile: A performance appraisal process should take into account the organization’s job competencies and performance objectives by setting clear and measurable goals. Consider the following groups of job-specific competencies used by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to enhance employment equity planning and performance. These categories are based on Treasury Board’s Behavioural Competency Dictionary [3] and consultations with employee groups:
    • Client Service Orientation: By committing to provide the highest quality of service to internal and external clients, an organization is committing to respectfully engaging with its most important stakeholders. Human rights are an important factor to consider in client service interactions: an employee who is being assisted by human resources to help fulfil a request for accommodation should have their perspective fully understood; alternative service arrangements that take into account the needs of clients with special needs should be considered; all client service interactions should be respectful and take diversity into consideration.
    • Communication: Communication involves the ability to deliver and receive information clearly.  In its most active form, this means to listen to information received, seeking to understand it, and responding openly and effectively to others. Communication is one of the fundamental elements that the HRMM is built around. Among other possible communication competencies, managers can help encourage a diverse workforce by identifying communication barriers and developing strategies to eliminate them, or simply by listening to and responding to feedback.
    • Initiative: This is the ability to seize opportunities as they arise and make a commitment to deal with issues proactively and persistently. A manager might take initiative by predicting potential barriers to DGMs before they are in place and developing solutions for consideration. One of the most impactful ways that a manager can show initiative is by getting others involved and showing support for human rights and employment equity initiatives within the organization.
    • Teamwork:  Teamwork involves working collaboratively with others to achieve common goals and positive results. Managers have a responsibility to ensure that group members are working collaboratively and that team members are acknowledged and respected, regardless of their race, religion, sex, disability, or any other prohibited ground recognized under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
    • Analytical Thinking: Analytical thinking involves understanding a situation by breaking it apart into smaller pieces. This particular competency may play a role when reviewing employment systems as part of your employment equity plan. Managers may be asked to look for trends and interrelationships in employment equity or complaints data. Analytical thinking is also essential to resolving internal human rights complaints or other grievances. In conflict resolution, it is important to break down complex problems, assess each issue that is raised and identify several solutions.
    • Problem Solving & Decision Making: Problem solving and decision making relates to the ability to assess options and implications in order to identify a solution. These competencies are some of the most fundamental to management positions: considering how problems may affect an organization as a whole, making complex decisions, assessing risk and developing innovative solutions. With respect to diversity and human rights, managers may learn from past human rights complaints by taking preventative measures to ensure that problems do not re-occur. Managers may need to balance priorities and make plans to improve policies, procedures and ensure the accessibility of facilities.
    • Results Orientation: Results Orientation is achieved when personal efforts are focused on achieving results that are consistent with the organization’s objectives. To achieve a self-sustaining human rights culture, management must pursue organizational objectives with energy and persistence. One way to do this is by modeling success and motivating others as human rights champions within your organization.
  • Create performance objectives based on the job-specific competencies and strategic plans. Once you have adapted or created job-specific competencies related to human rights, use these to set individual performance objectives within your organization.

Promising Practices

  • Build on behaviours that support diversity: Some organizations requires that  managers commit to implementing employment equity and diversity by demonstrating the following qualities:
    • Can avoid judgments based on a partial view of a situation;
    • Can distinguish between having a generalized (and perhaps stereotypical) perception of a designated group, and seeing an individual person;
    • Understands the difference between equity and identical treatment;
    • Understands that what he or she says can open or close doors for members of designated groups.
  • Make human rights responsibilities part of job descriptions: Putting human rights responsibilities into the standards against which managers are assessed is a way of integrating the development of the organization’s human rights culture with operational goal-setting and business planning.

Useful links and tools

Competencies - Treasury Board of Canada

Effective Behaviours: Values and Ethics, Strategic Thinking, Engagement, Management Excellence - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Employment Equity Policy - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat


Treasury Board of Canada. (2008). CompetenciesRetrieved on October 18th, 2011 

Treasury Board of Canada. (2006). Behavioural Competency DictionaryRetrieved on October 18th, 2011

[1] Treasury Board of Canada, “Competencies” (Retrieved on October 18th, 2011)

[2] (note: for more examples of competencies that implement employment equity principles, you can read Fact Sheet #6b))

[3] Treasury Board of Canada: “Behavioural Competency Dictionary”:http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/webarchives/20061210235859/http://www... (Retrieved on October 18th, 2011)

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