What is employment equity?

Employment equity is about employers taking action to remove and prevent barriers at work for workers who belong to groups that have often been treated unfairly, for example, because of their race, age, gender or disability.

Sometimes to have fair and inclusive workplaces, employers need to look at treating their workers differently rather than the same. When we address inequities in the workplace, we build a more inclusive society respectful of human rights.

Why we created this resource

More than three decades after the term “employment equity” was coined, the effects of systemic discrimination continue to be seen across the labour market. Gaps in representation and pay for marginalized groups remain stubbornly high, and year after year employment is the most litigated area of discrimination at the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Many employers want to be part of the solution. They know that promoting equity makes good business sense and that it’s the right thing to do, but they may not have the time or expertise to know where to start. Our office continues to hear strong interest and desire from organizations across sectors asking for help to make their workplaces more equitable and inclusive.

That’s why we are developing this toolkit of resources to support employers wanting to learn how to improve employment equity within their businesses and organizations. It draws on a combination of secondary research, focus groups and feedback sessions with employers and workers, and a provincial poll exploring experiences and opinions on employment equity. The toolkit will be an important part of our work to promote equity in B.C.

For those new to employment equity, the toolkit begins with introductory materials covering core concepts and summarizing some of what we know and don’t know about employment equity in B.C. along with its business benefits.

The rest of the toolkit will cover six topic areas within employment equity: accommodations, compensation, data collection, dispute resolution, hiring and promotion and workplace culture. Each topic will be covered in a main infosheet containing recommendations for employers. These will often be supplemented with additional guidance and tools that will go deeper into one or more aspects of the topic.

If any of the concepts across our infosheets are new to you, we recommend using our online Glossary to explore information about the phrases and language being used.

A note on knowing your audience

If you are sharing this information with others, it can be helpful to consider who your audience is and what motivates them. Research shows that people are most motivated to work towards and invest in employment equity when they are provided with information that draws their attention to the benefits most aligned with their organization’s vision and mission. We hope the information we provide in this toolkit supports you in having these important conversations.


Toolkit

Introductory materials

Stay tuned as we work on additions to this toolkit!