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LESSON 3: EQUITY AND DIVERSITY IN HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

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Department
Administrative Studies
Course
ADMS 2600
Professor
Paul Fairlie
Semester
Winter

Description
HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagementDonna Verity and Chris Carella LESSON 3: EQUITY AND DIVERSITY IN HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT INTRODUCTION The questions raised in the introductory paragraph of lesson 2 on HRP are driven by and solved by using the full talent of the current labour market to survive and thrive in a highly competitive global market. This means tapping the resources of Canada’s highly diverse labour pool through effective employment equity policies and practices, successful diversity management and zero tolerance for harassment; all which contribute to the establishment of a barrier-free, positive work environment that attracts diverse and qualified people. Topics will include: • employment equity and designated groups • the legal framework for employment equity • the Federal Contractors Program • six steps to implementing employment equity • pay equity • definitions of harassment • sexual and racial harassment • diversity management LEARNING OUTCOMES At the end of this module, you will be able to: 1. define employment equity and describe its purpose 2. identify the pieces of legislation that form the legal framework for employment equity and explain how they are enforced 3. explain the objective of the Federal Contractors Program. 4. describe the six steps to implementing employment equity 5. define and give examples of “reasonable accommodation” and “measures” in the context of employment equity. 6. define pay equity 7. define harassment and explain how definitions may vary 8. define both sexual and racial harassment 9. list the components of successful harassment prevention 10. define diversity management and list at least 5 advantages associated with it 1 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManageDonna Verity and Chris Carella 11. list at least 6 things that an employer should keep in mind when embarking on the complex and lengthy process of changing a work culture into one that supports diversity. TEXT READING: Equity and Diversity in Human Resource Management pp. 99 - 143 LECTURE NOTES 1. EMPLOYMENT EQUITY a. Employment Equity and Designated Groups Employment equity is defined in the text as: The treatment of employed individuals in a fair and nonbiased manner (Text, p. 100). This does not mean, however, that all employees are treated in exactly the same way. Employment equity involves policies and practices that involve the identification and removal of systemic barriers to employment opportunities that have adversely affect designated group members. It also involves the implementation of special measures and the making of reasonable accommodation. Given what we looked at in terms of demographics in Lesson 1, it is imperative that Canadian businesses maximize the potential of designated groups in the labour force. The birth rate in Canada is falling. We have an aging population that is starting to opt for retirement and exit the workforce. With a segment of the aging population still in the workforce, we have a higher incidence of disabilities. The participation rate of women in the workforce is increasing. Our patterns of immigration have and are changing with increasing numbers of visible minority immigrants entering the Canadian labour force. If businesses want to survive and thrive in this economic climate and also do business on a global scale with diverse populations in other countries, they must fully tap our labour pool and also maximize the potential of designated group employees. People in designated groups have faced a variety of challenges over a long period of time. These challenges include, but are not limited to, high rates of unemployment, concentration in lower paying jobs and limited opportunities for advancement. You have no doubt heard the term “glass ceiling” which refers to the invisible barrier that women and other designated groups face in trying to move into more senior management positions in large corporations. “Highlights in HRM 3.1” on p. 101 outlines the top 6 barriers that prevent women from advancing in their management 2 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagemeDonna Verity and Chris Carella positions. In addition to being under represented in senior management positions, women also tend to be under represented in other occupations such as technical, trade and semi-professional occupations. Aboriginal people also face barriers to employment which include high levels of illiteracy, low levels of education, lack of work experience and culture and language barriers, in some locations. Coming from a culture that highly values community and group consensus has, in itself, been a considerable barrier to aboriginal people trying to find work or advance in their occupation in a labour market that has traditionally valued individualism and competition. People with disabilities also face a variety of barriers including attitudinal barriers and also artificial physical barriers that are not bona fide occupational requirements. The rate of unemployment among people in this group continues to be considerably higher than the national unemployment rate. Visible minority group members face a number of barriers including lack of recognition for foreign credentials (so we have doctors driving taxicabs) and very high and sometimes unrealistic English language requirements. Visible minority staff seeking to enter higher management positions also face many of the same barriers that women face. Employment equity makes good business sense on a number of levels. It makes sense for companies to maximize the available pool of candidates from which to select qualified staff. Good equity policies make organizations a “workplace of choice” and attract highly qualified candidates. Good employment equity practices can enhance staff morale and also help employers avoid costly and time-consuming human rights complaints. b. The Legal Framework for Employment Equity The Charter or Rights and Freedoms is the bedrock of equity legislation and guarantees 6 basic rights (see p. 105 in the text) to every Canadian including equality rights which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, colour, religion, sec, age or mental and physical ability. The act also paves the way and makes legal any programs or activities that improve the situation of those who may be disadvantaged due to discrimination, i.e. it makes “affirmative action” approaches legal. The full text of the Charter can be found at the following URL: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/#libertes The Canadian Human Rights Act also forbids discrimination in employment on the grounds of race, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, physical/mental disability, sexual origin, family status, dependence of alcohol or drugs and a pardoned conviction. This act applies to the federal government and agencies, crown corporations and businesses under federal jurisdiction like banks (see. p. 106). Employers are allowed to discriminate if the requirements are based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) or requirement (BFOR). For example, trucking 3 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagemeDonna Verity and Chris Carella companies are federally regulated because they cross provincial lines. It would not be reasonable for a blind person to be a driver. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has the authority to investigate complaints concerning discriminatory practices that are covered by the legislation and has the authority to punish offenses through fines and/or jail terms. Information about the Canadian Human Rights Act and Commission can be found at the following URL: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/ Provincial human rights acts (e.g. the Ontario Human Rights Code) are similar but not identical to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and govern workplaces that are not under federal jurisdiction. Check pages 107-111 for what is covered and not covered in various provinces and territories. Penalties at the provincial level include fines (as a result of prosecution in provincial court) of between $500 and $1000 for individuals and $1000 and $10000 for businesses but no jail sentences. Information about the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Code can be found at the following URL: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/english/index.shtml The Employment Equity Act applies to federally regulated industries, Crown corporations with 100 employees or more, as well as portions of the federal public service, which include the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP. Adherence to the Employment Equity Act is not a legal requirement for organizations that are not identified in the preceding sentence. The objective of the Employment Equity Act is to correct conditions and remove barriers in employment which disadvantage women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities, and to ensure progress toward a internal workforce that mirrors the representation of designated groups in the external labour market. It provides for special measures and for the accommodation to allow equal access to employment opportunities and related benefits. Employers covered by this piece of legislation are required to implement employment equity and report on their progress. For more information about compliance, penalties and appeals, please see the following site: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp?hr=/en/lp/lo/compliance-policy/workplace- equity.shtml&hs=wzp c. Federal Contractors Program The objective of this program is the same as that of employment equity legislation and is directed to organizations that do business with the federal government. The program applies to provincially regulated businesses with more than 100 employees that secure contracts for the provision of goods and services to the federal government valued at $200,000 or more. Employers who secure federal contracts must implement an equity program and report on their progress. See the 4 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagemDonna Verity and Chris Carella requirements of this program outline in “Highlights in HRM 3.3” on p. 114. The Canadian Human Rights Commission is still responsible for conducting compliance reviews. For more information on please check the following site: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp? hr=en/lp/lo/lswe/we/programs/fcp/suppliers/index-we.shtml&hs=wzp d. Implementing Employment Equity Successful implementation involves 6 steps: commitment of senior management to implementation, collection and analysis of information; a review of employment systems, establishment of a workplan, the actual implementation and finally, a follow-up process that includes monitoring, evaluation and adjustments to the plan in order to reach goals. Step 1- Senior Management Commitment: The commitment to an equity program must come from senior management and not be viewed as a project for which HR is responsible. If there is no commitment from senior management, the program will be sidelined when the first major priority comes along that competes for attention and/or resources. In addition to an overall endorsement, there should be one person at a senior level who is specifically responsible for the program; it would help if this person were viewed as the equity ‘champion’ in the organization. This person will need support and assistance from an employment equity advisory committee that is prepared to assist with systems reviews, communications, etc. The commitment to equity needs to be supported by a formal policy as well as a good communication strategy that uses multiple channels of communication. For employers who are required to implement equity programs, there is a legal requirement to consult with bargaining agents or employee representatives. Step 2 - Information collection and analysis: Information on employees will need to be collected in order to determine if the representation of designated groups in the internal workforce matches or exceeds that of the external labour market and if there is evidence of concentration in specific occupations and levels. Most of the information can be derived from personnel files. However, some of it must come from employees through a voluntary self- identification process. It is important to build a climate of trust that will raise the comfort level of employees and increase their willingness to participate in the process. However, there will likely be employees who may not be willing to disclose things like aboriginal heritage or non-visible disabilities (like epilepsy). Failure to disclose will skew the analysis somewhat and a company may end up using time and resources to increase internal representation in a designated group that is not needed. Elements that should be included on the self-identification form are noted on page 64. 5 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagemeDonna Verity and Chris Carella Once information has been collected, the data needs to be organized under the 4 digit National Occupational Classification so people can be grouped according to the 14 employment equity occupational groups. Tools to assist with handling the information and the development of the plan can be found at the Labour Programs site of HRSDC under “Employment Equity- Policy, Data and Reporting Tools”: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/gateways/topics/wzp-gxr.shtml Step 3 - Employment Systems Review: It is important that all employment related systems and practices (formal and informal) be reviewed to ensure that there are no deliberate or systemic barriers that prevent the full participation of designated group individuals. For instance, employers who consistently hire by word of mouth may end up with a workforce where some designated groups are well represented, and others are not, in comparison to external labour force. When we get to Lesson 5 on Recruitment and Selection, we will see that over 30% of people obtain their jobs through word of mouth. It is not hard to understand that with 30% of people getting jobs with an employer through friends or family, representation of any demographic group in an organization’s workforce could easily be skewed in comparison to the external labour market. Please see page 120 for more information about systemic barriers and ways of addressing them. Systemic barriers are those barriers that are the result of unintentional discrimination. Bona fide occupational requirements, merit or legitimate business requirements are not considered barriers in the sense presented here. Special measures may be used to facilitate the entrance and promotion of designated group members in the workplace. Employment equity legislation allows organizations to do targeted hiring to increase the complement of staff in the 4 target groups to bring it in line with the representation in the local labour market. We have an example of this in our own federal government department where positions advertised both internally and externally have been targeted to visible minority applicants only. Our department has experienced problems maintaining a level of visible minority representation that mirrors the local labour market and this is one way to increase that level. Ryerson University is another example. A large proportion of the faculty hired a number of years ago were Caucasian. As these people have retired, Ryerson has done targeted hiring to increase the number of visible minority teachers teaching a very diverse student body. Another special measure used by our department is a fast-track program designed to increase visible minority representation in senior management positions. The concept of “reasonable accommodation” involves “adjusting employment policies and practice so that no individual is denied benefits, is disadvantaged with respect to employment opportunities, or is blocked from carrying out the essential components of a job because of race, colour, sex or disability” (Text, p. 122). Examples of 6 HRM1283 Equity and Diversity in Human Resources ManagemDonna Verity and Chris Carella reasonable accommodation may involve “redesigning job duties, adjusting work schedules, providing technical, financial and human support services and upgrading facilities” (Text. p. 122). Employers have a “duty to accommodate” up to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship is a standard that takes into account costs, outside sources of funding and health and safety concerns. The burden is on the employer to prove that these concerns are "undue" or excessive in order to justify a refusal to accommodate an employee. You may want to have a look at information at the Ontario Human Rights Commission site on accommodations related to religion and disability: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/english/publications/creed-religion-guide.shtml http://www.ohrc.on.ca/english/fact-sheets.shtml Information on “duty to accommodate” for employers and employees in jurisdictions covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act can be found at the following site: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/preventing_discrimination/duty_obligation-en.asp? highlight=1 The information in “Highlights in HRM 3.6” on p. 123 gives you an idea of how the courts have handled two “duty to accommodate” cases and “Figure 3.4” on p. 122 provides some suggestions on how to make the workplace more accessible. With one exception the suggestions appear to be geared to making the workplace more accessible for those
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