ARCHIVED - Guidance Series - Integrating Employment Equity in the Appointment Process

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Document Status:
Draft: Working version
Effective Date:
December 2005

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Employment equity under the PSEA
  3. Integrating employment equity in the appointment process
  4. Additional tool(s) and model(s)

Appendices


1. Introduction

1.1 Background

Did you know?

This is an unprecedented time for human resources (HR) advisors to play an important role in assisting hiring managers to achieve the goal of a representative public service: one that embodies the linguistic duality of Canada, and in which employment equity (EE) practices are characterized by fairness, access, transparency, representativeness, respect for employees and effective dialogue.

The preamble to the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) states: "Canada will continue to gain from a public service that strives for excellence, that is representative of Canada's diversity and that is able to serve the public with integrity and in their official language of choice." Canadians expect their needs, concerns and interests to be reflected in the policies, programs and services that governments provide to its citizens. Diverse perspectives and approaches contribute to better programs and stronger policy advice for the benefit of all Canadians. The public service, as an employer, cannot afford to overlook the strategic opportunity provided by a diverse labour pool.

The public service has made progress in improving the public service representation of the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act (EEA): women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples and visible minorities. However, the representation of visible minorities is still below its availability in the Canadian workforce.

In the next decade, the working age population in Canada will increasingly come from the visible minorities and Aboriginal groups. Consider these facts.

By 2017, visible minorities could be between 19% and 23% of the Canadian population, with percentages well above the 50% mark in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver (estimates from Statistics Canada).

Aboriginal peoples currently represent 4.4% of the population, but this number is growing by 22.2% every 5 years, compared to only 3.4 % growth every 5 years for the non-Aboriginal population. (Statistics Canada 2001).

At the same time, the public service work force is ageing: a large number of public servants, particularly persons with disabilities, will be eligible for retirement. The 2003- 2004 Annual Report to Parliament on Employment Equity in the Federal Public Service noted that two thirds of persons with disabilities in the public service were 45 years of age or older and thus eligible for retirement within 10 years, while half of the rest of the public service was in this age range.

Given the demographics, the next decade is an opportunity for the public service to renew itself. Good planning to replace retiring public servants will result in a public service workforce that reflects the diversity of the country and is able to serve the public in the official language of their choice.

The PSEA provides more flexibility for meeting the government's commitment to increase the representation of the public service. It provides EE measures and new options for customizing staffing to meet the needs of organizations, while respecting the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness. It also sets a context for managers and HR advisors to form a strategic partnership to help the government move forward.

1.2 Purpose of this document

This document is a tool for the HR advisors. It is designed to provide guidance for integrating EE objectives and considerations into each step of the appointment process.

The document introduces and uses an EE lens as a tool for helping managers make decisions at key points. It also explains how EE can be achieved by using the flexibilities in the PSEA and by sharing models and lessons learned.

The main sections of this document are:

  • An overview of EE under the PSEA, including the legal, delegation, accountability and policy framework;
  • Advice on how to integrate EE into each decision point of the appointment process; and
  • Additional tool(s) and model(s):
    • An EE lens, a useful tool for ensuring that EE considerations are factored into all processes.
    • A model for EE programs, and related lessons learned.

There are also legal and other reference sources and links to additional resources in the Appendices.


2. Employment equity under the PSEA

2.1 The legal framework for employment equity

Appointment decisions to build a public service that reflects the diversity of Canada are made, not only within the context of the PSEA, but in the context of a legal framework that includes:

  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter): provides for equal rights, prohibits discriminatory practices on grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability, and allows for special programs to improve conditions of disadvantaged groups.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA): prohibits discrimination and provides for special programs to reduce disadvantages suffered by any individual or group on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted. It also establishes the employer's duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship, considering health, safety and cost.
  • The Employment Equity Act (EEA): sets out employer's obligations to identify and remove systemic barriers and make accommodation for differences for persons in the four designated groups. The Public Service Commission (PSC) is responsible under the EEA for identifying and removing barriers which can have an adverse impact on members of designated groups in its own systems, policies and practices in recruitment and staffing, in accordance with its role and mandate under the PSEA. Federal organizations are responsible for the implementation of the EEA within their respective organizations.
  • The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA): provides the legislative framework for appointments that are based on merit and non-partisanship, designed to be flexible and efficient, with appropriate accountability for managers while preserving fundamental public service guiding values, such as fairness, transparency, access and representativeness. The PSEA provides flexibilities that can be used to customize the appointment process to meet the EE needs of organizations. These flexibilities include the ability to define EE as an organizational need merit criterion, the ability to limit or expand an area of selection to designated group members, and the organization's ability to establish its own EE program.

2.2 The delegation, accountability and policy framework

Did you know?

  • Through the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI), the PSC has delegated to deputy heads:
    • recruitment and appointment authorities which may have an impact on the achievement of EE objectives; and
    • the responsibility to review employment system(s), policies and practices to identify employment barriers against persons in designated groups.
  • The delegated recruitment and appointment authorities must be exercised within the Staffing Management and Accountability Framework (SMAF).

Under the PSEA, the PSC retains authority to make appointments to and within the public service. The PSC has delegated much of this authority to deputy heads, and developed an appointment policy and accountability framework that deputy heads must respect as a condition of delegation. Responsibilities under the EEA for reviewing employment systems, policies and practices have not changed, and are also delegated to organizations.

Conditions of delegation

The ADAI requires organizations to respect, among other things, the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness; the legal requirements of the PSEA, the EEA and the Official Languages Act, and to:

  • respect the PSC Appointment Framework, which includes the PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process; and
  • consider and balance business needs, EE and HR management goals, the interests of the public service, and the career aspirations of employees when developing and applying appointment policies and practices.

The accountability framework

The PSC holds deputy heads accountable under the PSEA for the exercise of delegated appointment and appointment-related authorities by:

  • providing the Staffing Management Accountability Framework (SMAF);
  • monitoring appointment patterns, information gathering, and risk assessment;
  • requiring deputy heads to report on their management of delegated authorities;
  • providing feedback to delegated organizations so they can take action to improve their staffing system and ultimately to protect merit in the overall system;
  • conducting audits, studies and investigations;
  • using a range of interventions or remedial measures when it finds abuses or questionable practices; and
  • reporting to Parliament on the integrity of the public service staffing system.

Information on how well organizations are ensuring that EE considerations are incorporated in appointment processes is captured through the SMAF and the corresponding accountability reports to the Commission. More information on the Accountability Framework is available on the PSC Web site.

The policy framework

Did you know?

The PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process and the PSC Policy on Official Languages in the Appointment Process are overarching policies within the PSC Appointment Policy. Their requirements must therefore be integrated into the design of appointment processes.

The PSC has developed an appointment policy framework to ensure the core values of merit and non-partisanship and the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness are respected in appointment systems. It also supports a competent public service that respects the linguistic duality of Canada.

Highlights of the PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process are:

Policy statement

EE objectives are integrated into the design of the appointment process.

PSC policy requirements

Deputy Heads must:

  • accommodate the needs of persons through all stages of the appointment process to address, up to the point of undue hardship, disadvantages arising from prohibited grounds of discrimination;
  • use assessment tools and processes that are designed and implemented without bias and do not create systemic barriers; and
  • be able to demonstrate that a decision to limit the area of selection to members of one or more of the designated groups is consistent with the organization's EE plan or HR plan.

Duty to accommodate

The duty to accommodate is based on the legal obligations set out in the Charter, the CHRA and the EEA, and is a requirement that must be respected throughout the appointment process. The duty to accommodate refers to the obligation of an employer or service provider to take measures to eliminate disadvantages to employees, prospective employees or clients that result from a rule, practice or physical barrier that has, or may have, an adverse impact on individuals or groups protected under the CHRA, or identified as a designated group under the EEA. Adverse impact may be deemed to have occurred when the application of an apparently neutral rule, standard, policy, practice, etc., results in a disproportionate disadvantage (whether intentionally or not) for an individual or a group protected under the above legislation.

Employers must make sure that they build accommodation into their policies and practices as much as possible from the outset of an appointment process.

However, even when every effort has been made to ensure, in advance, that corporate activities, including employment practices, are free from discrimination, there will be circumstances when the needs of a person or group of persons will require specific adjustments. In these instances, the employer should provide accommodation to these persons up to the point of undue hardship.

When applied in the appointment process, the duty to accommodate involves designing inclusive appointment rules, policies and practices, as well as eliminating or changing those which discriminate against persons based on a group characteristic, such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, family status, and disability, and providing accommodation measures up to the point of undue hardship.

Undue hardship refers to the limit beyond which employers and service providers are not expected to accommodate, taking into consideration issues of health, safety, cost, and bona fide occupational requirements (BFOR). A BFOR is a standard or rule that is integral to carrying out the functions of a specific position. For example, excellent vision is required to safely pilot a plane. For a standard to be considered a BFOR, an employer has to establish that any accommodation or changes to the standard would create an undue hardship. Organizations are expected to exhaust all reasonable possibilities for accommodation before they claim undue hardship. Please note that the courts have made it clear that employers must expect some hardship in eliminating barriers and providing accommodation. To find out more about how the courts define undue hardship, please consult the Canadian Human Rights Commission Web site.

Highlights of other PSC policies which are pertinent to achieving employment equity objectives:

Three other policies are particularly pertinent to the goals of upholding the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness, and promoting a diverse and inclusive public service which respects both official languages:

  • PSC Policy on Choice of Appointment Process:
    The choice of appointment process (advertised or non-advertised, internal or external) has an impact on access. It is important to ensure that the choice provides designated groups with a reasonable opportunity to apply, and be considered, for public service employment. EE goals can be furthered by the use of non-advertised processes if EE is identified as an organizational need.
  • PSC Policy on Area of Selection:
    Areas of selection determine the pool of potential candidates who will be considered. Including applicants from the designated groups and members of the two official languages groups will have a direct impact on access. Access by the designated groups can be increased by using the flexibility of limiting an area of selection to designated group members without the need for an EE program, but this decision must be linked to EE or HR plans.
  • PSC Policy on Assessment:
    This policy highlights respect for merit and the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness. Assessment is an area where bias and systemic barriers could have more of an adverse impact on designated group members than on other persons. It is therefore important to focus efforts on the use of assessment processes and tools that are fair and do not create systemic barriers.

Note:
The Treasury Board and its administrative agency, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) (referred to as the employer throughout this document), are responsible for the overall Employment Equity Policy. The corresponding PSC policies relate solely to the appointment process.


3. Integrating employment equity in the appointment process

3.1 The use of an employment equity lens

Did you know?

An EE lens is a tool that can assist HR advisors to advise managers on the options available to them for making decisions and promote inclusiveness and representativeness.

The PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process statement outlines that, "Employment equity objectives are integrated into the design of appointment processes". To achieve this, EE considerations should be taken into account at key decision points in the appointment process: planning, establishing merit criteria, choosing a process, choosing an area of selection, advertising, assessment, informal discussion, selection, notification, appointment, and corrective action and revocation.

HR advisors are in a strategic partnership with managers. Strategic advice at key decision points helps to ensure that appointment decisions are aligned with business, HR and EE planning. The use of an EE lens at each key decision point will be particularly helpful in ensuring that EE considerations are factored into the appointment process.

In making these decisions, it is useful to consider the impact that choices and options have on EE. An EE lens operates on the principle of inclusion by design. It provides an approach to building EE considerations into the various activities of researching, planning, implementing and evaluating policies and programs. The EE lens raises questions and considerations to be taken into account at key decision points.

Using an EE lens is one way of ensuring respect for the PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process requirement.

A detailed description of the EE lens can be found in Section 4.1 of this document.

3.2 Applying an employment equity lens at key decision points in the appointment process

This section illustrates how the EE lens can assist the decision-making process at various points of the appointment process, thereby integrating EE considerations in the appointment process as a whole. As well, at the end of this section, information on the staffing of executive (EX) positions is provided since it is an area where accelerated efforts are needed to improve representation.

3.2.1 Human resources planning

The PSC Appointment Framework provides for:

  • recruitment is delegated;
  • appointments to positions in the EX group are delegated;
  • deputy heads are responsible for developing their own policies to meet their HR needs; and
  • deputy heads, who are responsible for designing and implementing EE programs, can determine whether EE is a current or future organizational need.

Using EE as a current or future organizational need, can only be implemented effectively through integrated business and HR planning. Effective planning will help identify skills shortages and gaps in representation that can be addressed through the appointment process. This planning will help managers make decisions in:

  • establishing merit criteria;
  • choosing an appointment process;
  • establishing areas of selection; and
  • developing EE programs;

Integrated business and HR planning should include an EE gap analysis, and strategies and plans to reduce gaps. In view of changing demographics that affect the public service and the Canadian workforce, taking a planned approach to meeting EE objectives will help managers and employees know what the organization's objectives are in terms of employment equity, and the measures that will be used to achieve those objectives.

An Integrated HR and Business Planning Tool Kit, with a checklist for corporate EE goals, can be found on the OCHRO Web site.

3.2.2 Employment equity programs

Did you know?

  • Deputy heads are responsible for developing their own EE programs (PSC approval is not required).
  • The PSC has established a regulation for the purpose of facilitating the implementation of EE programs (i.e. excluding the appointment of a designated group member from consideration of priority persons if the appointment is made within the EE program, unless the priority person is a member of the EE group to which the program applies).

An EE program refers to positive policies, practices, or elements of an EE plan designed to address identified disadvantages and under-representation of a designated group.

An EE program linked to an EE and/or HR plan, and developed using an EE lens, can provide the flexibility to accelerate progress towards closing representation gaps. Organizations have the flexibility to develop their own EE programs, without requiring the approval of the PSC.

The PSEA provides the PSC with the authority to make regulations for the purpose of facilitating the implementation of EE programs developed by the employer or a deputy head. The PSC has exercised this authority through the enactment of section 3 of the Public Service Employment Regulations (PSER). Organizations that have an EE program can benefit from this regulation.

The PSER state there is no requirement to take into consideration priority persons, when the appointment of a member of a designated group is made within an EE program, unless the priority person is a member of the EE group to which the program applies.

Organizations may wish to use the model for EE programs developed by the PSC, which can be found in section 4.2.

3.2.3 Establishing merit criteria

Did you know?

  • EE can be part of the merit criteria, as a current or future need of the organization, including the current and future needs of the public service as a whole as identified by the employer.

Merit is defined in the PSEA as follows:

"An appointment is made on the basis of merit when:

  1. The Commission is satisfied that the person to be appointed meets the essential qualifications for the work to be performed, as established by the deputy head, including official languages proficiency; and
  2. The Commission has regard to
    1. any additional qualifications that the deputy head may consider to be an asset for the work to be performed, or for the organization, currently or in the future;
    2. any current or future operational requirements of the organization that may be identified by the deputy head; and
    3. any current or future needs of the organization that may be identified by the deputy head."

Deputy heads have the option of establishing EE objectives as a merit criterion. If there are current or anticipated representation gaps in the organization, increasing the representation of EE groups could be a current or future need of the organization.

Deputy heads may also consider the current and future needs of the public service as a whole, as determined by the employer. EE is as a priority for the public service as outlined in the employer's Employment Equity Policy, and the Clerk of the Privy Council has identified EE as a priority for the public service in the PCO Corporate Priorities.

When assisting managers to decide to use EE objectives as a current or future organizational need for a particular position, consult your organization's HR or EE plan and policies, and consider:

  • The location, level, group and/or nature of the position; and
  • The criteria for using EE as a merit criterion:
    • At what level or anticipated level of under-representation will this option be used?
    • Should EE as a merit criterion be used in non-advertised processes? In advertised processes?
    • When should this option be used as opposed to the area of selection options?
      1. Limiting the area of selection to an EE group may increase the chances of attracting members of that group. When the level of under-representation is high, this may be the option you wish to use to accelerate the reduction of the gaps, if the criteria have been well communicated and understood.
      2. Expanding the area of selection to include designated group members is a way of supplementing the applicant pool with additional members from the designated groups. When combined with the use of EE as an organizational need, this option provides more flexibility.

Note:
One appointment process may be used to fill similar positions immediately or over time, with different elements of the merit criteria applied to different appointments. The organizational need merit criterion can be applied to an immediate vacancy, or later as other positions become available.

3.2.4 Choice of appointment process

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Choice of Appointment Process requires that deputy heads "establish and communicate criteria for the use of non-advertised processes." The "Other Requirements" state that deputy heads must "respect the Employment Equity Act in terms of achieving and maintaining a representative organization".

Non-advertised appointment processes

All non-advertised appointment processes must be conducted in accordance with the criteria set out by the deputy head. However, EE objectives can be fostered by the use of non-advertised processes if EE is identified as one of the organizational criteria for non-advertised processes. The rationale for using a non-advertised process may be based on the available pool of designated group members and the requirements of the organization, as established in the EE plan or HR plan.

Before the decision is made to use a non-advertised process to improve EE representation, ensure that:

  • The criterion for the appointment of designated group members through a non-advertised process has been established and communicated by the deputy head. To respect transparency, information about decisions, policies and practices is to be communicated in an open and timely manner. Therefore, having a well-prepared communications plan relating to EE is important. The communications products should demonstrate respect for the guiding values and effectively promote the business case for EE across the organization.
  • "The appointment of members of designated groups" has been included as an organizational need. Identify the specific circumstances where managers are encouraged to use the EE merit criterion. What may justify using a non-advertised process with an EE merit criterion? Reasons may include skills shortage, a high turnover of employees belonging to designated groups, or difficulty in the recruitment of designated group members into a special field.
  • There is a solid rationale (and that it is documented). Why are you selecting a specific person for this position? Are there other EE members who may be qualified for this position?

Some things to consider:

  • the number of advertised processes compared to non-advertised processes;
  • the total number of all processes (EE and non-EE);
  • the number of non-advertised processes which have been completed, or are planned, using an EE rationale;
  • whether any non-advertised processes in the organization have been brought to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal on the grounds of abuse of authority;
  • whether the organization provided opportunities for other persons in the same designated group to apply to the same group/level in the past, or in the near future; and
  • whether other ways to recruit members of the same designated group been considered.

For more information on choosing an appointment process, refer to the Guide on Implementing the Choice of Appointment Process Policy.

3.2.5 Area of selection

Did you know?

To increase the representation of designated groups in the organization, there are two options in the PSEA that do not require an EE program: limiting an area of selection to designated group members, and expanding an area of selection to include more designated group members.

The decision to limit an area of selection to members of designated groups only must be linked to an EE or HR plan.

Organizations must have developed an EE program in order to benefit from the regulation excluding the appointment of a designated group member from the consideration of priority persons.
PSC policy requirements

When establishing an area of selection and incorporating EE objectives, it is important to remember that:

The PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process requires that deputy heads be able to demonstrate that the decision to limit the area of selection to one or more designated group members is consistent with the organization's EE or HR plan.

The PSC Policy on Area of Selection also states that a national area of selection is established, at a minimum, for all advertised external appointment processes. These measures have a significant impact on access to public service jobs for members of designated groups, particularly visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples who are concentrated in certain geographic areas.

Area of selection and employment equity goals:

Applying a specific area of selection can be an effective tool for increasing representation and diversity in the public service. Decisions regarding areas of selection must respect the guiding value of access and when limited to members of a designated group, be supported by an integrated HR, EE and business planning framework.

1) Limiting an area of selection

The PSEA provides the flexibility to establish an area of selection that is limited to one or more of the designated groups.

If an organization has a need to fill representation gaps, managers may wish to choose this option to attract as many members of the designated group as possible and improve the chances of finding a qualified designated group member for the position. This could increase the number of applicants from an EE group, who may have been discouraged by barriers they have encountered.

Example:

  • According to the organization's EE plan or HR plan, certain representation gaps can be addressed by filling positions with members of a visible minority. Members of visible minority groups in the feeder groups for a certain level are currently under-represented in the public service. Therefore, recruitment may have to be from outside the public service. If the position will attract a large number of applicants, including members of visible minorities, by limiting the area of selection to persons belonging to the visible minority groups only, the organization may make the position more attractive to members of designated groups. Thus, the organization increases the chances of finding qualified persons from the visible minority groups, while keeping the process efficient.

2) Expanding an area of selection

The PSEA provides for an expanded area of selection to supplement a pool of candidates with additional designated group members. Organizations may establish different geographic/organizational criteria for designated group members. Expanding the area of selection to include designated group members can result in increased numbers of designated group members participating in the appointment process.

Organizations may combine the option of expanding an area of selection with the use of EE as a merit criterion. Please refer to Section 3.2.7 for information on applying EE as an organizational need merit criterion.

Example 1:

  • A position will be staffed by an internal advertised appointment process. The organization has identified the need to increase the representation of Aboriginal peoples in that occupational group, but their number in the region is insufficient. By opening the process to employees of the organization in the region AND including employees who belong to the Aboriginal peoples group in other regions, the organization can reach out to a larger pool of Aboriginal peoples.

Example 2:

  • The organization is currently not under-represented but there are anticipated gaps that have been projected in the EE plan. The manager is staffing a position in an occupational group for which few EE applicants are available or interested. The manager may expand the area of selection and include EE objectives as a future organizational need, and advertise this merit criterion to attract EE applicants.
Did you know?

The EE advisor within your organization, or the EE analyst at OCHRO, can provide information regarding workforce availability by sector or region, in addition to results of surveys or other data collected centrally.

Data from central agencies and surveys are useful when making decisions regarding area of selection options. In addition, the following steps and questions will help managers reach a decision:

  • Review the organizational EE or HR plan; any organizational EE programs, and the organization's policy on area of selection as it relates to designated groups.
  • Look at the level of under-representation in the organization in general, in the region, branch, and at this group and level, and the number of positions that need to be filled.
  • Review how often the organization has used the flexibilities of expanding or restricting areas of selection, and their results.
  • Take into account the need to include prospective applicants from both official languages communities, depending on the nature and location of the position, as well as the linguistic obligations of the public service and the organization.
  • Consider whether there are employees within the organization who may meet the qualifications and opportunities for career advancement.

For more information on how to define areas of selection, please refer to the Guide to Implementing the Area of Selection Policy.

3.2.6 Advertising

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Advertising in the Appointment Process requires that sufficient information be provided regarding the criteria to be used in the screening of persons in the area of selection, and any other information necessary for persons in this area to apply.

The "Other Requirements" outline that accessible formats be provided upon request, for communicating with persons with disabilities.

Reaching and attracting persons from designated groups

The organization has as its objective increased representation, and EE has been determined to be an organizational need, i.e. an element of the merit criteria. As well as communicating this information in the advertisement to advise persons in the area of selection that this will be used as a merit criterion and to attract members of the designated group(s) identified in the merit criterion, there are others things to consider:

  • If EE is a merit criterion, has this been advertised in a manner that effectively reaches and attracts the members of the targeted group(s)?
  • Does the advertisement communicate how the merit criterion will be applied in the selection and appointment process?
  • Has the information on assessment tools been communicated, so that applicants know whether they would need accommodation?

In addition to the minimum advertising mechanisms set out in the PSC Policy on Advertising (Publiservice, jobs.gc.ca), HR advisors may wish to advise managers that there are other mechanisms that can reach a diverse audience in a timely and inclusive manner:

  • Use multiple and appropriate communications mechanisms, such as 1-800-0-Canada, the Government of Canada Web site, Publiservice, or PWD Online.
  • To attract more members of designated groups, send information to community organizations such as the Aboriginal Friendship Centres, organizations of and for persons with disabilities, the National Council of Visible Minorities, and newspapers targeted at members of visible minorities to attract more members of designated groups.
  • Use systems that are inclusive and barrier-free, such as Web sites that conform to the Common Look and Feel Standards (and therefore accessible for persons using adaptive technologies), as well as using multiple formats (large prints, audio, electronic, Infotel, etc.).
  • Plan for the inclusion of persons with disabilities; for example, ensure that online application systems are accessible and usable for persons who are blind or have low vision and use adaptive computer technology, such as speech synthesizers.
  • Ensure that, if advertisements are posted in a physical location, the physical environment is accessible (i.e., has access ramps and automated door openers, for example).
  • In the advertisement, offer to provide documents in multiple formats.

For appointment processes where the area of selection is limited to a designated group or groups, the advertisement should clearly state that only those applicants who indicate on the application that they are members of the requisite EE group(s) will be considered.

When EE has been established as a merit criterion, applicants should be made aware that if this criterion is used, only those who have indicated that they are members of the targeted EE group(s) will be considered.

In an internal appointment process, applicants should also be informed that information regarding the use of EE as an organizational need merit criterion may be shared during the informal discussion process; however, personal information remains confidential under the Privacy Act.

Declaration form for members of designated groups

When Aboriginal status is used as a selection or appointment criterion as per the Policy on selection and appointment, applicants should be advised that a condition of the appointment is that an Aboriginal person proposed for appointment or appointed must complete and sign the Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form (AAAF), even if they self-declared as belonging to an EE group on their application.

For more information on considerations to take into account when advertising, please refer to the Guide to Implementing the Advertising in the Appointment Process Policy.

3.2.7 Assessment

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process requires the use of assessment tools and processes that do not create systemic barriers to employment. It also states that "deputy heads must accommodate the needs of persons...to address, up to the point of undue hardship, disadvantages arising from prohibited grounds of discrimination".

The PSC Policy on Assessment states that deputy heads must ensure that:

  • The assessment is designed and implemented without bias, political influence or personal favouritism and does not create systemic barriers.
  • The assessment processes and methods effectively assess the essential qualifications and other merit criteria identified and are administered fairly.
  • The identification of persons who meet the operational requirements and organizational needs is carried out objectively.

Deputy heads must ensure the use of assessment tools that do not create systemic barriers, and must inform the persons to be assessed, at an appropriate time, of the assessment methods to be used, their right to accommodation and how to exercise that right.

Did you know?

In the context of assessment:

"Assessment without bias" refers to taking steps to reduce the impact that prejudices and biased attitudes can have on an assessment process.

"Do not create systemic barriers to employment" involves the use of tools and processes that are inclusive in their design and implementation and that do not restrict or exclude persons in designated groups and do not discriminate on any prohibited ground of discrimination.

Assessment is key in the appointment process since merit is determined by the assessment of a person. Therefore, it is important that assessments are fair and that EE considerations are integrated into the assessment process.

To ensure that the guiding value of fairness is respected, HR advisors can help managers identify and remove barriers in the process, especially in the development and choice of assessment methods. Ensure that they are fair and inclusive, by reviewing the considerations in this section with the manager.

Managers may not be aware that certain types of assessment tools could pose a barrier to designated group members. A written test which, as is, cannot be read by a visually impaired person is one example. To remove barriers in assessment tools, there is no single solution. Removing barriers involves a heightened awareness of potential barriers, and using judgement in applying the principles of fair assessment and inclusiveness. Particular attention to the design of assessment tools taking into account the following considerations will help ensure that they are fair and inclusive:

  • When developing or choosing assessment instruments, respect the principle of equal opportunity: ensure that persons are provided with an equal opportunity to fully demonstrate their qualifications, through accommodation measures, as needed.
  • Use multiple assessment tools so that persons have the opportunity to demonstrate their competencies in different ways.
  • Assess whether the questions and scenarios require culture-specific knowledge that is not work-related, or do they constitute a disadvantage for certain groups (for example, subtle word meanings, colloquialisms or jokes can be meaningless to persons not belonging to the same culture).
  • Equitable assessment does not necessarily require the use of the same assessment methods or sources of information for all persons, as long as the level and nature of the qualification being assessed are the same. For example, a set of interview questions could be presented orally for most persons, but in writing for others who require accommodation. Any change to assessment procedures should not provide an undue advantage to any one person over others.
  • Do the demands of the assessment tool exceed those of the job? For example, when staffing a clerical position that does not require advanced writing skills, it would not be fair to ask those persons to answer complex procedural questions in writing. If the job involves only photocopying, a question expecting a detailed written response on photocopying procedures may eliminate persons who understand photocopying procedures but do not have advanced writing skills.
  • Do the assessment instruments focus only on knowledge and skills which could be acquired only through job experiences, and ignore other competencies and the ability to learn? For example, persons who have not had access to opportunities such as acting appointments or contract work may be at a disadvantage.

Other ways to help ensure that the process is fair and that it does not create systemic barriers would be to:

Tips for assessors

Assessors need to be aware of their own values, cultures and assumptions ("pre-judgement"), and guard against the influence of these sources of potential bias when assessing. For example, persons may have a tendency to evaluate people similar to themselves more positively, or base their decision on a group characteristic rather than on an individual characteristic (stereotyping). An example of bias is the assumption that a person with a disability may not be able to do a job as well as others who do not have a disability.

Cultural backgrounds may influence the way persons communicate and demonstrate their abilities. For example, in many cultures, talking about one's achievements is frowned upon, so the assessor may need to prompt the candidate to get more information. Training on cultural differences could be helpful in this area.

Be aware of possible bias regarding experience acquired in a foreign country.

Assessors should be conscious of messages through their non-verbal behaviour, such as the inflections of their voice. Non-verbal behaviour can be interpreted very differently by members of different groups (for example, a nod of the head indicates "yes" in certain cultures, whereas in other cultures, this same gesture indicates "no"). However, non-verbal messages that reinforce the assessors' receptivity and openness, for example nodding and eye contact, can reassure hesitant persons and can encourage them to be more forthcoming with useful information.

Accommodation during the assessment process

Did you know?

  • Organizations must accommodate persons to the point of undue hardship to avoid discrimination on any prohibited ground contained in the CHRA. Those grounds are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
  • It is important that persons' rights to privacy and confidentiality be protected.

Persons needing accommodation must inform those responsible for assessment of their needs for accommodation, however it is not necessary for persons to self-declare or to self-identify to request an accommodation during the appointment process. Please note that in an appointment process where EE is a merit criterion or where the area of selection is limited to EE group members, the person applying must declare that she or he belongs to the designated group(s) specified in the advertisement to be considered for appointment.

Managers can consult with the PSC Personnel Psychology Centre (PPC) on issues related to accommodation, as well as on ways to meet the challenge of assessing applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. As an HR Advisor, you may wish to remind managers that applicants usually know their needs best, so it is important that they be consulted throughout the process.

What does an organization need to do to be inclusive?

  • Provide information to persons in an accessible format.
  • Inform persons, in a timely fashion, of the assessment methods and tools used, so that they can make an informed request for accommodation. To help those persons make this type of request, the type of information that should be provided includes the nature of the assessment tools and their mode of presentation. Information that is limited to just the type of tool to be used (for example, an interview) is usually not sufficient for persons to request accommodation because not every interview is conducted in the same manner (i.e., sometimes, written copies of questions are given ahead of time).
  • Ask persons for their specific accommodation needs: some persons may not be able to attend an interview if the date conflicts with observance of a religious holiday; persons with a disability, such as a person who is deaf, may need time to make arrangements to be accompanied by a suitable sign language interpreter; persons who have primary responsibility for childcare may not be able to attend an early morning interview before the daycare opens, etc.
  • If necessary, consult the PPC, health care professionals and other subject matter experts, with the person's consent, to determine the accommodation appropriate to his or her needs.
  • Modify assessment procedures, as required, keeping fairness issues in mind.
  • Ensure that the testing location is accessible for applicants with mobility-related disabilities (for example, having access ramps, automated door openers, accessible parking spaces, etc.).
  • As some persons may be concerned that information related to their needs could adversely influence the manager's decision to appoint them, ensure that the person collecting the accommodation-related information is trained in handling confidential medical information, and will share the information with the manager responsible for the appointment decision on an as-needed basis only (for example, if the manager is responsible for administering the accommodation measures). Please note that the person or persons providing the accommodation are only entitled to know the functional limitations of the person accommodated and the nature of the accommodation required, not the nature of the disability.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient time to do all of the above, and that efficiency does not over-ride implementation of accommodations in the process.
Did you know?

Costs of assessments and/or time to make appropriate accommodations must not create an additional barrier.

The organization is responsible for costs related to assessments that are required, up to the point of undue hardship, in order to determine functional limitations caused by a disability, and accommodation to offset such functional limitations during the staffing process.
Language requirements

The person who, in the regular test conditions, cannot fully demonstrate his or her proficiency in the second language because of a disability, can be offered a variety of accommodation measures for the assessment of his or her second language proficiency.

For bilingual non-imperative positions, medical reasons may be grounds for exclusion from meeting the language requirements of a position. For example, long term or recurring physical, mental or learning impairment that makes the person unable to attain, through language training, the official languages proficiency required. Please see the Guidance Series: Official Languages in the Appointment Process.

Applying employment equity as an organizational need merit criterion

The PSEA allows some flexibility in the application of this merit criterion (organizational need).

Managers can:

  • choose whether or not to apply the organizational need merit criterion; and
  • apply the organizational need merit criterion in any order, at any stage of the appointment process.

Example:

  • If EE has been established as an organizational need, the manager may screen out all applicants who are not members of the designated group(s), or can proceed with the assessment of the other merit criteria first, and use the organizational need criterion at the end of the process to select whom to appoint. EE can be applied as a merit criterion for one or all positions advertised, based on the right fit for the position, taking into consideration the other needs of the organization. The decision to use a particular merit criterion to make the right fit decision is at the discretion of the delegated manager. As this is an important step, this decision should be made objectively, and respect the guiding values of fairness and transparency. As an HR Advisor, you may wish to discuss the options with the manager, and provide them with up to date information on the organization's progress in achieving representativeness.

3.2.8 Selection and appointment

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Selection and Appointment states that deputy heads must ensure that selection for appointment is fair and transparent. The policy requires that managers document the reasons for the appointment decision. In the case of the application of EE as a merit criterion, this information will be provided as a rationale linking the decision to HR plan or the EE plan.

Another requirement is that for processes which use Aboriginal status as a selection or appointment criterion as per the policy, Aboriginal persons who are appointed or proposed for appointment must complete and sign the Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form (AAAF).

The offer of appointment should contain a statement that completion of the AAAF is a condition of the appointment that must be met prior to or at the same time the letter of offer is extended, and that the appointment cannot take effect until the AAAF is completed and signed. Note that even if the Aboriginal person to be appointed self-declared at the time of application, they must still complete and sign the AAAF when they are appointed or proposed for appointment.

Other requirements include the provision of accessible formats when communicating with persons with disabilities when making an offer of appointment or administering the oath or solemn affirmation, if applicable.

Considerations:

The selection may be based on various merit criteria, including EE as a current or future need of the organization. This organizational need would have been identified in the organization’s HR or EE plan, but at this decision point, the following factors can be reviewed with the manager:

  • The level of under-representation in the organization, the number of appointments and the drop-off point (i.e. points where persons are eliminated) for persons belonging to designated groups in the organization. If there is a trend for drop-off at certain points, is there a reason why?
  • For this specific process, has there been a sharp drop-off at the selection decision point? If yes, have the selection criteria been reviewed to see why?
  • Does the position allow members of the feeder group to access a level where there is a gap in representation (such as positions one or two levels below EX positions)?
  • Are there other positions of similar group and level where there is a plan to use EE as a merit criterion?

Other considerations which may be taken into account at this decision point are whether the selection has been conducted in a fair and transparent way, using the advertised or predetermined criteria.

For more information on the selection and appointment process, please refer to the Guide to Implementing the Selection and Appointment Policy.

3.2.9 Informal discussion

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Informal Discussion requires organizations to respect the guiding value of transparency and the duty to accommodate. Persons must be accommodated up to the point of undue hardship, and employees with disabilities must be provided with information in a timely fashion and in a usable format.

Did you know?

Informal discussion may include a review of the merit criteria which have been or will be used for the appointment process, including the use of EE as a merit criterion; however, any information shared will relate only to the person who is participating in the informal discussion.

The PSC Policy on Informal Discussion requires deputy heads to provide informal discussion upon request, when a person has been eliminated from consideration.

Informal discussion is a means of sharing information so that the person who was eliminated can understand the reasons for the decision, and, if there are any errors, the manager can correct them. Informal discussion contributes to an environment of open communication and trust. Managers will be able to explain their decisions during the appointment process.

During informal discussion, and consistent with the guiding value of transparency, how EE objectives are achieved in the appointment process may need to be explained. Both designated and non designated group members need to understand why they have not been considered for appointment. Issues may be raised by both designated and non-designated group members:

  • Persons not considered may bring up concerns about the use of EE as a merit criterion. Referring to the organization's communications plan on EE can assist in conveying a consistent message.
  • Members of the designated groups may present issues related to barriers that they have experienced during the assessment. This is an opportunity to learn more about these barriers and how they can be addressed in the current process, or for the purposes of improving future processes.
  • A person may be able to show that they have been adversely affected by the assessment. A decision may have to be made regarding revisiting their assessment.
  • If persons providing informal discussion are sensitive to the needs of persons from designated groups, the quality of informal discussion could be improved. A person with a disability, such as deafness for example, may require a sign language interpreter. A manager will need to be prepared for such instances.

Note:
If the area of selection in an appointment process was limited to one or more of the designated groups, or if EE was identified as a merit criterion, applicants must indicate on their application that they belong to the designated group(s) to be considered (see Section 3.2.6 on Advertising). This information is considered personal information. It is protected under the Privacy Act and can be used only for the purpose of the appointment process. Since informal discussion and the use of EE as a merit criterion are new, your supporting role as an HR advisor is very important. Managers can consult with the organization's Privacy expert or consult the Privacy Act if unsure as to what information can be shared.

For more information please refer to the Guidance Series: Participating in Informal Discussion.

3.2.10 Notification

PSC Policy Objective and Other Requirements

The objective of the PSC Policy on Notification is to ensure transparency. The "Other Requirements" outline the duty to accommodate when providing notification.

Considerations:

It is a good practice in the notification of consideration to communicate the merit criteria used, for example, the use of EE as a merit criterion. If there are concerns regarding the use of EE as a merit criterion, it could be raised in a timely manner before a final decision is made.

As with all other communication, it is important to understand the issues with respect to the duty to accommodate:

  • Regular mail may pose a barrier for persons who are blind. A person who is blind may not have anybody available to read his or her mail within the notification period. As a general rule, it is best to respond to an applicant in the same format in which the application was received.
  • If notification is to be posted on a Web site, ensure that it meets the Common Look and Feel standards.
  • If notification is to be posted in a physical location, is the site easily accessible (for example, to persons using wheelchairs)?

For more information please refer to the Guide to Implementing the Notification Policy.

3.2.11 Corrective action and revocation

PSC policy requirements

The PSC Policy on Corrective Action and Revocation requires organizations to ensure fairness and transparency in making a decision to take corrective action or revoke an appointment. They must also establish and communicate an organizational policy which includes a monitoring and review mechanism. Also, the duty to accommodate has to be respected.

The reasons for revocation and corrective action are an error, omission or improper conduct that affected the selection of the person appointed or proposed for appointment.

Considerations:

The PSC Policy on Corrective Action and Revocation requires organizations to establish a monitoring and review mechanism. Consistent with the application of an EE lens, issues related to the appointment of designated group members should be tracked. A good practice is to monitor the complaints received and the reasons for revocation and corrective measures. As all monitoring information will feed back into the planning cycle as lessons learned, it is important to learn whether there are issues regarding the EE measures applied in the appointment process, and to understand the issues brought forward by members of designated groups.

  • Are there common errors or omissions raised by members of designated groups?
  • Are the errors or omissions related to the appointment of designated groups?
  • Is there a failure to apply the duty to accommodate? Is it systemic?
  • What is the improper conduct raised most often by members of designated groups? Have there been complaints brought forth based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the CHRA?
  • What is the improper conduct brought forth that is related to membership in designated groups?

With pertinent monitoring criteria, the deputy head would be able to detect a pattern in the reasons for revocation or corrective action related to members of designated groups.

For more information please refer to the Guide to Implementing the Corrective Action and Revocation Policy.

3.2.12 Executive resourcing

EX resourcing is fully delegated, except for the appointment to EX positions of a priority person previously employed in an excluded position at the Office of the Governor General's Secretary. This also includes fulfilling EE obligations in appointments in the EX group. The same EE flexibilities and considerations available for other groups and levels apply to EX appointments. Most EE considerations for EX positions are the same as for non-EX positions.

As pointed out in the employer’s 2004 preliminary evaluation of the Embracing Change Initiative, EX resourcing is an area in which EE efforts need to be accelerated. Organizations may wish to establish an EE program for EX positions, taking into consideration:

  • The level of under-representation of each of the designated groups, at EX and EX feeder levels, in the organization;
  • Any specific organizational concerns regarding the recruitment/promotion of designated group members into EX positions;
  • The results achieved by the organization, compared to the Embracing Change Initiative one in five benchmark, compared to other organizations;
  • Any EE objectives specifically developed for the EX group. How have these objectives been integrated into the HR plan or the EE plan?
  • The organization's strategies to deal with under-representation at the EX level; and
  • What are the specific measures to be implemented for the EX group? Consider special recruitment initiatives, or measures to develop the experience of members of designated groups in the EX-feeder groups such as secondments, acting appointments or other developmental programs.

3.3 The Collection of employment equity information

Information related to membership in an EE group is collected through the self-declaration process, the AAAF, and the self-identification process.

3.3.1 Self-declaration

Self-declaration is EE information provided on a voluntary basis by applicants during the appointment process. It is collected under the authority of the PSEA, the CHRA, and the EEA for several purposes, as per the applicant’s consent:

  • For appointment processes where the area of selection was limited or expanded to include membership in one or more EE groups, it is used to ensure that the candidate meets that area of selection requirement.
  • For appointment processes where EE was used as an organizational need merit criterion, it is used to ensure that the candidate meets that merit criterion when it is applied for a particular appointment.
  • It is used for statistical purposes related to appointments (reports, analysis and special studies) to analyze information on applicants who belong to EE groups, to measure the success rates of EE group members throughout the appointment process, and to monitor and report on the number of EE applicants and appointments. It is also used for statistical purposes related to EE workforce representation to compile statistics on the composition of EE groups in the public service workforce, and for reporting to Parliament under the EEA at an aggregate level.

Applicants may state they are a member of a designated group by completing the electronic “Self-declaration form for members of employment equity groups” in the Public Service Resourcing System for external processes, and in Publiservice for internal processes. Applicants who do not apply on-line may provide self-declaration information directly on their curriculum vitae. Information collected from the application is retained in the PSC applicant file and in the organizational staffing file.

Organizations can use the self-declaration information provided by applicants from outside the public service for self-identification purposes when they are subsequently appointed to the public service as a result of the appointment process in which they self-declared. Self-declaration information provided by employees may also be used for self-identification purposes. Both external applicants and employees must have consented to this use. An example of where consent is provided is through the completion of the self-declaration screens in Publiservice or jobs.gc.ca on-line application forms. When self-declaration information is used for self-identification purposes, it is retained in the Employment Equity Data Bank of the Treasury Board Secretariat and/or the standard organizational EE bank.

3.3.2 Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form

The AAF is a form to be completed for internal and external, advertised and non-advertised appointment processes when Aboriginal status is used as a selection or appointment criterion as per the Policy on selection and appointment. It is a solemn acknowledgement of the Aboriginal affiliation of the person to be appointed and is a condition of appointment.

The information on the AAAF is collected under the authority of the PSEA. It is protected under the Privacy Act, and is retained in the organizational staffing file only.

For more information on the AAAF, refer to the PSC Web site.

3.3.3 Self-identification

Self-identification is the collection of EE data voluntarily provided by employees, and is normally collected through surveys conducted in the workplace independently from an appointment process. It is used for statistical purposes to analyse and monitor the progress of EE groups in the public service, and for reporting workforce representation figures to Parliament. Self-identification information is retained in the Employment Equity Data Bank of the Treasury Board Secretariat and/or the standard organizational EE data bank.


4. Additional tool(s) and model(s)

This section includes:

  • an "EE lens";
  • a model for EE programs; and
  • lessons learned.

Additional tools and models will be added as we learn of good practices from organizations.

4.1 Employment equity lens

The PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process is "to ensure that the public service respects the value of representativeness and reflects our diverse society." It also states that "Employment equity objectives are integrated into the design of appointment processes." This refers to the spirit of inclusion by design. The use of an EE lens when developing and implementing policies, programs, systems and practices will help integrate EE objectives. We encourage you to share this tool with colleagues in your organization.

This tool is particularly pertinent to the development of policies for the appointment process, as the PSC Policy on Area of Selection and the PSC Policy on Corrective Action and Revocation require that organizations develop organizational policies in these two areas. Organizations may also decide to develop additional policies for the appointment process, as appropriate to the needs of their organizations.

In the development of organizational policies, an EE-based analysis should be an integral part of all phases of the development, implementation and review processes. An EE lens is a useful tool for assessing the impact of a policy on designated groups and for assisting in the removal of barriers to their full participation.

An EE lens consists of a series of questions and considerations. A generic lens, such as this one, can be used for any corporate initiative. Then questions specific to the subject could be asked. Please refer to Section 3 of this document on how to integrate EE in the appointment process for specific considerations when developing policies, programs or systems affecting each specific phase of the appointment process.

At a broader, more generic level, possible questions include:

  • Have you identified the key parties, interest groups or individuals involved in the issues and who will be most affected? Are the designated groups affected? Have they been consulted?
  • What are the needs of members of the designated groups? Have you considered the impact of your initiative on these groups?
  • What are the specific EE issues relevant specifically to this initiative?
  • Is your initiative consistent with EE legislation and central agency guidelines that require inclusive and non-discriminatory approaches?

For each corporate initiative, be it a program, system design or policy development, to ensure the integration of EE considerations into the program, system or policy, specific factors have to be taken into account in each key phase.

4.1.1 What is an employment equity lens?

An EE lens is:

  • A tool to assist in the identification and resolution of issues, (discriminatory or systemic barriers), affecting the inclusion and full participation of designated group members in the work environment, including in all phases of the appointment process.
  • A framework for developing and evaluating policies, systems, programs and practices to assess the impact of existing or proposed initiatives on designated group members, at the design stage and throughout the process, including all phases of the appointment process.
  • A resource to assist in creating initiatives that are reflective of the rights and needs of designated group members.

4.1.2 Employment equity lens - key areas

EE is completely integrated into a policy, system or program when:

  • adequate research is conducted beforehand;
  • the full cycle of planning, developing, designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluation follows the model below; and
  • pertinent questions are asked at each phase.
Research (data collection and consultation)

Knowledge of designated group members will help in providing appropriate, inclusive and barrier-free policies, programs and services. If data does not already exist, it may need to be collected from various sources, including formal surveys or consultation with designated group members or other stakeholders.

Questions to ask
  • Have you consulted documents, reports or surveys to gather information to help you plan, design and implement your policy, program or system so it does not create barriers and is inclusive of designated group members? For example, when developing your policies, procedures and systems related to the appointment process, do you consult census data including the Participation and Activity Limitations Survey (PALS), as well as your organization's HR, EE and business plans, to ensure that your strategies will meet both your corporate goals and the needs of your clients?
  • Does your organization collect data about designated group members? For example, does the organization track the success rate of designated group members throughout all phases of the appointment process? Doing so may provide concrete data on drop-off rates in participation of these group members throughout the process, thereby helping identify barriers and corrective measures.
  • When assessing research outcomes and determining directions, do you consider the impact on designated group members? For example, does your outreach strategy include mechanisms to reach designated group members?
  • Have you consulted with representatives of the EE committees and designated group employees in your organization, to obtain their advice to help ensure your policy, program or system is inclusive and barrier-free, including your data collection tools and studies?
Planning, development and design (clarification of goals, anticipated outcomes and preparation of action plan)

Policies, programs and services must be designed from the outset to be inclusive and barrier-free, to accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse clientele, including designated group members. To ensure that the duty to accommodate will be respected, costs of accommodations must be factored into budget expenditures, so they do not create an additional barrier to their use.

Questions to ask
  • Is your program, system or policy consistent with legislation, Treasury Board policies, the PSC appointment policies, the values of access and representativeness, and organizational guidelines that require inclusive or non-discriminatory approaches, including the duty to accommodate?
  • What factors, (legal, economic, social or cultural), or forces (government priorities, strategic objectives, including your HR and business plans, etc.) could contribute to, or detract from, the implementation of this initiative or activity, with respect to members of the designated groups?
  • What are the consequences of not taking EE issues into consideration in this initiative or activity? For the organization? For members of the designated groups?
  • Have the accommodation needs of persons who are members of the different designated groups been considered, planned for and integrated into your policy, program, service or system, including budgets, using a universal design approach? For example, if you are putting in place an electronic recruitment system, is it designed from the outset to be barrier- free and inclusive, and have alternatives been put in place to enable those who do not have access to the Internet to apply?
Implementation (delivery of services including communication)

Appropriate, flexible and diverse delivery and communications mechanisms will facilitate implementation of programs and services, and access by an increasingly diverse clientele.

Questions to ask
  • Are persons involved in the appointment process trained so they are aware of and sensitive to the varying needs of designated group members? For example, do they know how to ensure that everyone can participate fully at interviews, tests, informal discussion, etc.?
  • Are there appropriate, flexible and diverse delivery mechanisms to ensure the policy, program, service or system can be used by those with diverse abilities and backgrounds? For example, do you implement flexible schedules for tests and interviews to meet the needs of persons from different religious backgrounds, or who have to fulfill childcare or elder care responsibilities? Is extra time provided for those who require this measure to ensure a fair assessment?
  • Are documents and communication material provided in multiple formats such as large print, e-mail, accessible Web sites that are Common Look and Feel compliant, Braille, telecommunications devices for the Deaf (TDD), etc. to ensure accessibility and usability by all Canadians?
  • Are documents and communications material written in plain language? Do you use appropriate and inclusive images and language to convey messages?
  • Do you include conditions to ensure usability by all in the service agreement, if your program or service is delivered by a third party?
Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring will reveal patterns and trends, help identify barriers and suggest appropriate measures that can facilitate the full inclusion of designated group members. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should be built in at the planning stage, so that the overall efficacy of policies and programs in fulfilling their objectives can be evaluated.

Questions to ask
  • When evaluating your policies or programs, do you measure the participation and satisfaction rates of designated group members?
  • Are there mechanisms in place to identify systemic patterns and specific issues faced by designated group members? To bring issues to upper management? To try to solve problems in consultation with designated group members?
  • Are the evaluation mechanisms designed to measure the efficacy of programs, systems, policies and practices from the point of view of members from designated groups? For example, how are appointment policies and practices evaluated to ensure that they are fair and provide equitable access to EE groups?
  • Is the satisfaction rate of designated group members measured? Are the obstacles to designated group members' full participation, such as unjustified job requirements, assessment tools which may not be barrier or bias-free, physical accessibility barriers, e.g. electronic delivery mechanisms such as inaccessible Web sites or kiosks etc. measured?
  • Is the program, system or policy consistent with legislation, Treasury Board policies, the PSC Appointment Policy, the values of access and representativeness, and organizational guidelines that require inclusive or non-discriminatory approaches, including the duty to accommodate? Is it supported and integrated into the HR and business plans?

4.2 A model for employment equity programs

4.2.1 The PSC model: guiding principles and elements

In May 2004, the PSC implemented the Framework for Employment Equity Programs. Under the PSEA, organizations are not required to have their EE programs approved by the PSC. However, organizations may use the PSC Framework, found below, as a model in setting up their own programs. Organizations may also develop their own framework to fit their objectives.

The Framework was developed to be an enabling tool to help organizations correct their under-representation and contribute to government commitments in achieving a non-partisan, competent and representative public service.

Designed to increase flexibility for EE and accelerate closing the under-representation gaps while encouraging good HR planning, the Framework is built on a set of guiding principles and elements.

Guiding principles

The design and implementation of EE programs under the Framework take into account the following principles:

  • The EE program must advance equality.

The program must be designed and implemented to achieve "substantive equality" - representation of the designated groups that is equivalent to their representation in the Canadian workforce. Therefore, it is necessary to restrict the use of these programs to the elimination of "under-representation," as defined in the Framework.

  • The EE program must address genuine disadvantage.

An EE program may address representation gaps at the organizational level or address representation gaps at the public service-wide level. Organizational gaps are identified through a workforce analysis and completion of an EE plan. OCHRO identifies public service-wide gaps.

  • The EE program must be proportional to the degree of under-representation or disadvantage.

There must be a link with the organizational EE plan showing that planned quantitative objectives and strategies are commensurate with the gaps in representation for the targeted designated groups.

  • The impact of the EE program on third parties, such as persons who are not members of designated groups, must be considered.

Steps must be taken to ensure that such impacts interfere as little as possible with the opportunity of third parties, while remaining consistent with the overall need for and objectives of the program. Further, it is important to recognize that the EE program is not the only approach for bridging under-representation gaps; it is one of many special measures that may be used until long-lasting results are achieved through strategies to remove barriers.

  • EE programs are temporary and the need for such programs is assessed periodically.

EE programs are in effect for a period of no greater than five years, after which an evaluation is done and a decision made regarding the extension or modification of the program.

  • Elements of the Framework

EE programs under the Framework can be applied to any one or all four EE groups: members of visible minority groups, Aboriginal peoples, women and persons with disabilities in all occupational groups where it can be established that there is "under-representation" for that particular EE group.

"Under-representation" is established where the workforce representation is less than the workforce availability (WFA) at any one of the levels listed hereunder. Public service representation statistics and WFA data are published or made available by OCHRO.

  • Public service: national or regional; or
  • Organization: national or regional or branch; or
  • Specific occupational group: at either a) or b) levels.

For the purposes of determining whether there is a representation gap, workforce representation is determined by the composition of the workforce and shall consider the anticipated growth or reduction of the employer's workforce, as well as the anticipated turnover of employees within the employer's workforce during the period in which the numerical goals set out in its EE plan apply. However, anticipated or forecasted situations of under-representation must be statistically supported through workforce analysis within organizations.

4.2.2 Other suggestions for employment equity programs

In addition to using the PSC Framework as a model, you may wish to work with colleagues in the corporate area on strategies that could be included in an EE program to increase the efficiency of appointment processes aimed at increasing representativeness, such as:

  • pooling efforts with other organizations to run processes targeted to designated group members for similar positions, and setting up shared pools or inventories of designated group members; or
  • running special outreach campaigns with other organizations to recruit students or specialists who belong to designated groups.

Considerations that could be taken into account in developing an EE program are:

  • Whether the program will be used for external and/or internal selection, term, indeterminate and/or acting appointments. Will there be criteria for non-advertised appointment processes within the program?
  • How the program will operate, including regional approaches or variations.
  • Any specific EE policies that will need to be developed or reviewed.
  • Whether the program will have a training/developmental component.

Appendix 1 - Relevant excerpts from key legislation relating to employment equity

There is a hierarchy of statutes with respect to EE. EE responsibilities for the public service are explicitly set out in the EEA.

The laws and statutes stated below are in order of precedence. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all legal references.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

It proclaims the fact that Canada is a free and democratic society; provides for equality rights without discrimination, also allows for special programs to improve conditions of disadvantaged groups. Pertinent clauses are:

  • Subsection 15(1) prohibits discriminatory practices on grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability and Subsection 15(2) allows special programs to address disadvantages.

Canadian Human Rights Act

It states that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals and have their needs accommodated without being hindered by discriminatory practices; provides for special programs/plans designed to prevent or eliminate/reduce disadvantages suffered by any individual or group on specific grounds stated in Section 3.

Pertinent clauses are:

  • Section 3 states that prohibited grounds of discrimination are: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
  • Paragraph 15(1)(a) states that occupational requirements must be bona fide.
  • Subsection 15(2) stipulates that accommodation of the needs of an individual or a class of individuals must be provided up to the points of undue hardship.
  • Subsection 16(1) states that special programs designed to prevent, reduce, eliminate disadvantages based on prohibited grounds of discrimination are not discriminatory.
  • Subsection 16(2) states that CHRC may make recommendations concerning desirable objectives for special programs and provide advice and assistance.
  • Subsection 16(3) states that it is not discriminatory to collect information relating to a prohibited ground of discrimination if the information is to be used in adopting or carrying out a special program, plan or arrangement designed to prevent disadvantages.

Employment Equity Act

It sets out the employer's obligations to identify and remove barriers and make accommodations for differences for persons in the four designated groups, and institutes positive policies and practices that will hasten progress in closing the representation gaps where under-representation is present. It also sets out obligations to have an EE plan to specify the positive measures and practices to be instituted, including numerical goals to address under representation where present. It is important to note that Section 6 of the EEA states that the employer is not required to "hire or promote persons without basing the hiring or promotion in selection according to merit."

Pertinent clauses are:

  • Section 3, which provides the definition for the four designated groups (Aboriginal peoples, women, persons with disabilities, persons in a visible minority group).
  • Subsection 5(a), which sets out the obligations to implement EE by identifying and eliminating barriers in employment systems, policies and practices.
  • Subsection 5(b), which sets out the obligations to institute positive employment policies and practices and make accommodations to ensure the representation of designated groups.
  • Paragraphs 6(b) and (c), which state that selection is made according to merit.
  • Section 9, which sets the obligation to do employment systems review.
  • Subsection 9(2), which states that only employees who identify themselves as belonging to an EE group are to be counted as members of those groups for the purpose of implementing EE.
  • Section 10, which sets out the obligations to prepare an EE plan where workforce analysis has determined that there is under-representation.

Financial Administration Act

It provides for the financial administration of the Government of Canada. Paragraph 11.1(1)(e) allows the Treasury Board (subject to the EEA) to establish policies and programs with respect to EE in the public service.

Public Service Employment Act

It establishes the principles and conditions governing appointments to and within the public service.

Pertinent clauses of the PSEA are:

  • The preamble, which speaks to diversity and representativeness.
  • Section 15, which states that the PSC may delegate appointment and appointment-related authorities to deputy heads.
  • Section 16 and subsection 29(3), which state that PSC policies are binding on deputy heads.
  • Section 17, which states that the PSC may conduct audits on any matter within its jurisdiction.
  • Paragraph 22(2)(d), which states that the PSC has the authority to make regulations to facilitate the implementation of EE programs.
  • Subsection 23(3), which states that the PSC may make a special report to Parliament where the matter is urgent or important.
  • Subsection 30(1), which states that appointments shall be made on the basis of merit and must be free from political influence.
  • Clause 30(2)(b)(i), which defines asset qualifications.
  • Clause 30(2)(b)(ii), which defines merit as including current or future needs of the organization.
  • Subsection 30(3), which states that current and future needs of the organization may include current and future needs of the public service.
  • Subsection 30(4), which states that merit does not require the consideration of more than one person.
  • Subsections 34(1) and 34(2), which provide the authority to expand and limit areas of selection to designated group members.

Appendix 2 - Employment equity lens - reference documents by phase

There are a number of tools, programs and services available to assist organizations in achieving and sustaining a representative workforce, and in planning for achieving inclusiveness and meeting the accommodation needs of applicants in the appointment process.

1 - Research phase

Documents and sites

Designated groups: information and sites

Statistical information

2 - Employment equity lens: planning phase

Other legislation not cited in Appendix 1

3 - Employment equity lens: implementation and communication phase

Resources on accessible formats (advertising, assessment, notification etc.)

For adaptive technology solutions, also consult:

  • Accessibility, Accommodations and Adaptive Computer Technology Program - Environment Canada: provides services for persons with disabilities, technicians, webmasters, application developers, project managers and end-users, and support to other organizations.
  • E-ACT: This Web site gives managers and employees access to information on adaptive solutions (adaptive computer technology etc.), discussion forums and other related Web sites and publications.
  • Accessible Procurement Toolkit: Assistive Devices Industry Office, Industry Canada: to find out about, among other information, usability conditions for any program or service agreement delivered by a third party.

Other resources about inclusiveness