What is the equity program?
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission’s equity program is a proactive strategy for promoting equity and preventing discrimination. It is based on principles of flexibility, accessibility, expansion, innovation, and accountability. The goal of the equity program is to encourage workplaces and learning environments to mirror the make-up of the population of Saskatchewan and develop plans to support success. The four equity-seeking groups are comprised of people who identify as: Indigenous, a visible minority, having a disability, and women in underrepresented occupations.
Through the equity program, the Commission approves and supports the equity plans of employers and organizations who apply to become Equity Partners. The plans are intended to create as many opportunities for equitable practices in the workplace as possible, while keeping approval and reporting requirements focused on essential elements. Partners benefit from equity program-focused resources, education, and information sharing. For more details, see the SHRC Policy on Equity Programs.
Why Equity Works
Adopting equity plans helps employers and organizations:
- Recruit and retain a diverse, qualified workforce
- Become “employers of choice” in a competitive labour market
- Take advantage of the creativity, skills, and knowledge of a diverse workforce
- Provide better services to an increasingly diverse clientele
- Create an inclusive environment that fosters success, recognition, and career growth
- Address historical and structural barriers to employment
- Promote human rights values of equality, individual dignity, and mutual respect
- Promote the advantages of a harmonious society in Saskatchewan
- Ensure equality of educational benefit to all students
Equity plans are effective when designed to target specific barriers experienced by equity-seeking groups. They can be combined easily with other positive strategies for creating inclusive workplaces and learning environments. Here are some of the benefits of equity plans:
- Hiring a qualified individual from an equity group can lead to faster progress.
- Equity plans are also anti-discrimination plans. Because of its expertise working with discrimination complaints, the Commission can provide effective information on ways of promoting equality and preventing discrimination.
- Equity partners are encouraged to seek human rights training and educational resources. The Commission can provide education on the duty to accommodate, discrimination prevention, and other topics which are important to the success of equity, diversity, and representative workplace programs.
- The equity program is a comprehensive, well-developed program that can address the needs of all equity groups . Within a plan focusing on one equity group, an equity plan can address particular barriers experienced by sub-groups. For example, a plan designed for Indigenous Peoples can address the particular challenges faced by Indigenous women and Indigenous persons with disabilities.
How do Equity Plans Work?
Equity plans prioritize identifying and removing barriers to success experienced by groups of individuals known as equity-seeking groups. The Commission’s equity program focuses on people who identify as Indigenous, women in underrepresented occupations, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities.
Equity-seeking groups face more barriers than others in education, employment, and other public areas of life. Opportunities can be limited by negative attitudes, stereotyping, and historical or unintentional discrimination. For example, word-of-mouth hiring can continue to affect groups who were once deliberately excluded from the workplace. Parts of the physical environment can exclude persons with disabilities, so too can “one size fits all” teaching methods that fail to meet the needs of many students.
By drawing underrepresented groups into the classroom and workplace and promoting their success, equity plans promote both fairness and economic success. Equity plans help create a culture of inclusion while giving individuals equal opportunities to participate, benefit, and contribute.
To help Equity Partners, the Commission has developed policy definitions of Indigenous Peoples, women in underrepresented occupations, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities/racialized groups for the purposes of equity plans (See section 2). The equity program will also assess the need for the creation of more equity groups when and if the need arises. Organizations do not need to develop plans addressing the needs of all equity groups. They are free to develop plans addressing the needs of only one group or of several groups.
Equity programs and plans are expected to be submitted to the Commission for approval, to ensure that they meet the set guidelines.
EQUITY IN EMPLOYMENT
Equity in employment means:
- a representative workforce that mirrors the make-up of Saskatchewan’s working-age population at all levels and in all occupations; and
- supportive, welcoming work environments that promote the full participation of all groups.
The employment equity targets used by the Commission (see below), expressed as percentages of the Saskatchewan employment-age population, are informed by Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population and reflect the ideal workforce representation of Indigenous people, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and women in underrepresented occupations.
Whereas the employment equity targets are based on quantitative indicators, qualitative indicators of success can include subjective factors such as job satisfaction and positive working relationships.
Employment Equity Targets
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is pleased to provide businesses, employers, and all interested stakeholders with the latest employment targets (see below) for four designated equity groups. These targets reflect the ideal workforce representation of visible minorities, Indigenous persons, people with disabilities, and women in underrepresented occupations. In turn, these metrics are a benchmark for employers to evaluate their efforts to recruit and retain employees in the four equity groups. Expressed as percentages of the Saskatchewan population, the targets are informed by Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population and prepared with the assistance of the Saskatchewan Bureau of Statistics. The Commission anticipates that all of the necessary statistical information from the most recent 2021 Census of Population will be made publicly available by Statistics Canada in 2023.
Every workplace should strive to have representation of each of the target groups across the range of jobs and roles within its workforce. It is not sufficient to meet equity targets through the employment of equity group members in entry level positions only. Over time, the recruitment, retention, and promotion of employees within an organization should reflect the true picture of diversity in our society.
The four equity-seeking groups are comprised of:
- Persons reporting an Indigenous identity;
- Members of a visible minority group;
- Individuals reporting a disability; and
- Women in underrepresented occupations.
The recommendations are derived from:
- 2016 Census of Population (conducted by Statistics Canada);
- The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (conducted by Statistics Canada); and
- The 2018 Labour Force Survey (conducted by Statistics Canada).
The Commission is indebted to the Saskatchewan Bureau of Statistics for assistance given in the interpretation and compiling of this report.
For the purposes of the recommended targets:
- “Working age” includes those 15 to age 74, and
- The four equity groups are defined using Statistic Canada’s definitions.
Equity targets in Saskatchewan also vary somewhat depending on location. For example, there are more people who are visible minorities in Regina and Saskatoon than other parts of the province, so the targets for visible minorities are higher in these two cities. Similarly, the targets for the Indigenous population is higher in the Prince Albert Census Agglomeration (CA) where there is a proportionally larger Indigenous population.
According to Statistics Canada, Aboriginal* identity can be defined as those who are “First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada), and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band.” Indigenous Peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35 (2) as including the “Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.”
Table 1 shows that the percentage of people identifying as Aboriginal (Indigenous) in the province of Saskatchewan in 2016 is 13.7%. That number increases to 34.4% when only the Prince Albert CA is considered. Both the overall provincial and Indigenous populations have experienced increases since 2016.
An appropriate 2019 equity workplace target for those employees identifying as Aboriginal is 14.0% for the province as a whole, and 35.0% for Prince Albert CA.
Table 1 – Aboriginal Identity Population in Saskatchewan, 15 to 74 Years of Age
|Prince Albert CA||Population||25,410||28,495||29,545||33,245|
*In the Commission’s Equity Policy, the term “Indigenous” is used in place of “Aboriginal” in describing the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada. This is in recognition of the history of the Indigenous People of Canada being the original owners of the land now known as Canada prior to European contact. The term “Aboriginal”, however, is used in the “Employment Equity Targets” section of this website for consistency with Statistics Canada’s language. “Aboriginal Peoples” are defined in section 35 of Canada Constitution Act, 1982 as including “the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada”, the term “Indigenous” is the more acceptable collective word used to describe the original owners of the land and the Métis Peoples who are offspring of Indigenous and European ancestry. According to Statistics Canada, Aboriginal identity can be defined as those who are “First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada), and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band.” Statistics Canada – https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/98-501/98-501-x2016009-eng.cfm#a2_1.
**15 to 74 age group not published – these figures are for the population 15 to 64 years of age
Sources : 2001 = 97F0011XCB01004, 2006 = 97-558-XCB2006007, 2011 = 99-011-X2011028
***15 to 74 age group not published – these figures are for the population 15 years of age and older. Source: 98-402-X2016009-T1-CMACA-Eng and 98-402-X2016009-T1-CANPR-Eng
Members of a Visible Minority
As with Indigenous identity, members of a visible minority group must self-identify as belonging to a particular group at the time of census taking. For the purposes of equity targets, the Commission defines members of a visible minority as, “persons, other than Indigenous Peoples, who are people of colour.”
The Employment Equity Act, S.C. 1995, c.44 defines visible minorities as, “persons, other than Indigenous Peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.” Statistics Canada reports that the visible minority population consists mainly of people who are: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, and Japanese.
According to the 2016 Census, members of a visible minority group aged 15 to 74 made up 10.6% of Saskatchewan’s population. In the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) of Regina and Saskatoon, members of a visible minority group constitute 16.8% of the population. The proportion is somewhat higher in Regina (17.3%) than in Saskatoon (16.3%).
The Commission’s previous equity targets were set at 6.6% for the province and 11.0% for the cities of Regina and Saskatoon. With population growth, the new recommendations are 10.6% for the province and 16.8% for the cities of Regina and Saskatoon.
Table 2 – Members of a Visible Minority Group in Saskatchewan, 15 to 74 Years of Age
|Members of a Visible Minority Group||19,470||25,235||44,570||84,115|
|% Visible Minority Group||3.1%||3.6%||6.6%||10.6%|
|Regina and Saskatoon CMAs||Population||280,615||320,465||325,835||395,005|
|Members of a Visible Minority Group||15,870||20,620||35,870||66,205|
|% Visible Minority Group||5.7%||6.4%||11.0%||16.8%|
*15 to 74 age group not published – these figures are for the population 15 to 64 years of age
Sources: 2001 = 95F0363XCB01004, 2006 = 97-562-XCB2006017, 2011 = 99-010-X2011029
Persons Reporting a Disability
Table 3 shows that the proportion of the Saskatchewan population aged 15 to 74 years reporting a disability increased from 12.4% in 2011 to 22.2% in 2017. This represents a 78.7% change since 2011. Statistics Canada considers disabilities to be permanent, temporary, or episodic, and adopts the World Health Organization definition: “Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.” The Commission has a similar but different definition for the purposes of filing human rights complaints.
The increase can be attributed to a content review of the CSD conducted in 2012, with experts and stakeholders identifying potential data gaps. As a result, new questions were added to the 2017 CSD that made the data collected more comprehensive and representative of the reality of disability in Canada. Based on this more accurate data, the Commission’s 2019 recommendation for the province for the equity target for employment of those with disabilities is 22.%.
Table 3 – Saskatchewan Persons Reporting a Disability, 15 to 74 Years of Age
|Reporting a disability||89,220||166,270||86.4%|
|Percent Reporting a disability||12.4%||22.2%||78.7%|
Women in Underrepresented Occupations
The proportion of women working in underrepresented occupations depends on two factors – the labour market availability of women overall, and the particular occupational groups which are designated as underrepresented.
For example, women represent 23.3% of those working within natural and applied sciences and related occupations. By contrast, women represent 9.4% of those working in transport and heavy equipment operation and related maintenance occupations.
Based on the percentage of women available to work between 15 and 74 years of age, the equity target for any organization is that 47.0% of its workplace will be women, and that employment in those percentages is to be found at all levels of the organization (e.g., management, labour, etc.).
Table 4 – Employment by Sex, Saskatchewan
Employment Equity Target Summary
The Commission recommends organizations use the figures in Table 5 when planning for a representative workforce.
Table 5 – Recommended Targets, 2019
|Prince Albert CA||35.0%|
|Members of a Visible Minority Group|
|Persons with Disabilities||22.2%|
|Women in Underrepresented Occupations||47.0%|
The Commission urges you to review the targets, take stock of your employee team, and tell us where you are doing well, why you are succeeding, and where you need help. Any tips you would like to share that you have learned in the creation of an inclusive and diverse workforce are welcome. Likewise, any questions you have that will help improve and strengthen your work team are encouraged.
The Commission has a dedicated Business Help Line that is confidential and available free of charge. It can be reached by calling (306) 933-5952. Our trained staff answer more than 500 calls per year from employers looking for guidance.
Becoming a partner
The process of becoming an Equity Partner can usually be accomplished within a few weeks. A new partner acquires approval from the Commission by signing a standard-form Equity Partnership Agreement (EPA). Approving an equity program with specific equity plans may require back-and-forth discussions over a longer period of time and as determined by the needs of a partner.
Developing a Plan
The SHRC equity program is voluntary, flexible, and encourages innovation by Equity Partners. For this reason, and because approval requirements are kept to a minimum, there is no single template or model for employment equity plans. For suggestions and help getting started, employers can look at the SHRC’s Sample Employment Equity Plan. This document outlines some of the basic components that have traditionally been part of employment equity plans.
Equity Partner Application Process
Here is a step-by-step guide to help get you started.
Step 1 – Application
The first step in becoming an SHRC Employment Equity Partner is to send an email to [email protected]. Please address the email to an “Equity Advisor”. The Equity Advisor will answer any questions and help guide you through the process.
Step 2 –Commission Equity Policy
Review the Commission’s Policy on Equity Programs, which can be found online here. See also the Guidelines and Application of Policy on Equity Programs, which gives examples of what the policy means in specific situations.
Step 3 – Proposed Equity Plan and EPA
After you have reviewed the Policy on Equity Programs, please submit an Employment Equity Plan. The proposed plan should include:
- Formal Statements
- Designation of responsibility
- Communication Strategy
- Workforce Survey Results
- Describe goals, Timetable and Accountability Measures
- Recruitment and Employment Systems Analysis
- Measures to support equity and diversity
- Measures to improve general workforce Environment
- Description of monitoring and evaluation methods
Click here to see a sample Employment Equity Plan. When submitting a plan, also submit a request to enter an Equity Partnership Agreement (EPA). This request must be supported with statements of commitment by management and by any unions represented in the organization.
STEP 4 – Commission Review
Once the Commission has received your proposed Employment Equity Plan and your request for an EPA, it will review the application. The review process will take approximately two or three weeks. After the application has been reviewed and compliance is confirmed, the Commission will send an official Equity Partnership Agreement.
STEP 5 – Sign EPA
After receiving the official EPA, please sign it, provide a company logo, and return both to the Commission. The Commission will confirm that the EPA is properly executed, then sign off on it. An organization is considered to have Commission approval for an equity plan once the EPA is signed by both the Commission and the partner. Employment Equity Partnership approval is renewable annually as long as all Commission reporting requirements are met.
ANNUAL REPORTING PROCESS
In most cases, employers already prepare thorough, publicly available, and official DEI reports for their organizations. These documents may go beyond the Employment Equity program’s reporting requirements. Employers are encouraged to submit official documents, as well as necessary information described in the Equity Program reporting guidelines below. Note that reporting templates are also available below.
An annual progress report must include the following:
- A brief summary of:
- Any significant actions taken to implement your organization’s equity plan within the past reporting year, indicating your views of the effectiveness or otherwise of the plan.
- Any challenges experienced in executing the program and proposed actions to make the plan more effective.
- Recruitment and retention strategies utilized to meet equity gaps in the reporting year.
- Training programs undertaken, including scope and outcomes.
- The retention rate for members of the Equity Groups.
- The implementation of new best practices and/or other steps that have been taken.
- A statistical summary:
The statistical report should be completed in the required format. The Commission requires two statistical summary tables in the required format.
To prepare the tables, please count each job incumbent as an employee, whether that person is full-time or part time, permanent or non-permanent, for each position. Employers may choose to follow the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system (see https://noc.esdc.gc.ca/). Employers that use the National Occupational Codes (NOC) may use the four-digit code. Alternatively, an employer may develop occupational classifications according to organizational/operational need. If a non-NOC system is used, please append a brief summary of each position.
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) is a standardized from of categorizing Canadian jobs for uniformity and ease of reference. Jobs are classified in the NOC by four digits based on their broad occupational categories, the skill level, and educational requirement for the jobs. The system is of statistical value to government, economists, researchers, statisticians and employers in relation to occupational classification for several purposes. For instance, NOC categorization is useful in determining an occupational group in which women are underrepresented for employment equity purposes or where there is a need to increase employment in an occupational group for immigration purposes.
An employee may be counted as more than one equity-seeking group, in some circumstances. For example, if an employee is an Indigenous person with a disability, the employer can count that person as both an Indigenous employee and an employee with a disability in its statistical reports to the Commission. Both the employer and the employee in that situation are dealing with two different kinds of barriers to equality in the workplace. If the employer is making efforts to address both kinds of barriers, it is fair to acknowledge that fact. Similarly, it is reasonable to recognize both realities in the experience of the individual employee.
An exception may arise with regard to an employee who is both an Indigenous person and a visible minority member – for example, someone of both Indigenous and African ancestry. There is some overlap in the challenges faced by Indigenous persons and visible minorities, including racist attitudes and assumptions. At the same time, the principle of self-identification is central to equity initiatives. An employer may ask the individual employee to choose whether to self-identify as an Indigenous person or visible minority member. If the employee does not wish to make that choice, he or she should be counted in both groups. The purpose of employment equity is to create a fairer, more equitable work environment. Employment statistics are just one broad measure of progress towards that goal.
Please refer to the chart below to determine when your report should be submitted.
|Fiscal Year End Date||Progress Report Due to the Commission|
|Calendar Year – December 31||May 31|
|Fiscal Year – March 31||June 30|
|Academic Year – June 30||September 30|
The Commission will approve equity plans so long as partner provides a report in the required format and within required timelines, otherwise approval will lapse. Please provide your report in Microsoft Word (document), and spreadsheets (tables) by email to [email protected].
Employment Equity Best Practices
Employment equity programs are intended to increase workplace participation by members of equity-seeking groups. This requires the removal of discriminatory barriers and the creation of a welcoming environment. Meeting equity targets not only benefits an organization, but also individuals and society, making way for systemic change. Systemic change requires a long-term commitment to developing and implementing best practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
As organizations work toward their equity goals, they create and identify measures and strategies that become templates or best practices. Best practices also emerge when an employer adopts, adapts, or learns from the practices and successes of others.
Below you will find a few examples of best practices implemented by various organizations.
Step 1 – Improve Recruitment and Hiring Processes
A transparent, barrier-free hiring process ensures that job candidates with equity group status are not disadvantaged. Potential barriers include hiring by word-of-mouth, inaccessible interview locations, and screening processes that disadvantage racialized persons or groups.
- Use blind screening of resumes (without names) to avoid “screening out” names that appear to identify an individual as belonging to a certain group.
For example, assumptions may be made about an individual’s sex based on their name. Assumptions may also be made about whether the person is likely to be a visible minority.
Blind screening is one way to avoid both conscious and unconscious bias to assess all candidates fairly based on merit.
- Ensure there are at least two qualified candidates from the designated equity groups in the pool of candidates to be interviewed. When seeking to hire from designated equity groups, this practice may be preferable to blind screening.
- Make equity group self-identification optional on application forms. This gives candidates the choice to self-identify.
- Ensure all parts of the process are accessible to people with disabilities (e.g., job postings, company websites, documents and forms, and the interview format) and provide accommodation as needed. Lack of accessibility in the hiring process can be a significant barrier for people with disabilities.
- Consider using a diverse hiring panel. The presence of panelists that reflect equity groups can boost a candidate’s confidence in the process, their perception of the organization, and their performance during interviews. This also increases the likelihood of a member from an equity group being selected.
- Look into providing anti-bias training for staff, particularly those who may be involved in hiring processes.
- Cast a wider net. Instead of only considering “culture fit” when hiring, also consider “culture add.” Inclusion is about valuing people with different perspectives and competencies and allowing them to make meaningful contributions to the organization. In this way, employment equity enhances corporate culture.
- Be flexible. Where appropriate, focus on skills and behaviours, instead of rigid qualifications. An organization may gain more with the addition of an employee with valuable skills and who can acquire necessary qualifications on the job. Insisting on qualifications that are teachable may cause an organization to miss out on opportunities to include skilled individuals with different paths to employment.
- Ensure onboarding processes emphasize inclusion and demonstrate how each employee is valued. The first day on the job with a new employer can set the tone for an individual’s tenure with the organization. Consider a process that makes employees feel they made the right decision to join your company.
- Share information with the union (if applicable) regarding hiring practices, equity plans, and results of workforce surveys.
Step 2 – Build a Healthy Workplace Culture
Equity plans and programs are more effective when they are embedded into every aspect of an organization’s operations. A genuine commitment to improving DEI in the workplace, rather than targets, can alleviate feelings of tokenism and lead to healthy and respectful workplace relationships.
- Create meaningful dialogue with staff, at all levels of an organization, about the organization’s commitment to improving DEI and the value it brings.
- Integrate DEI into all areas of leadership, professional development, performance management, advancement, and retention.
- Seek out and listen to diverse voices in the workplace. Employees from equity groups should feel like their contributions are trusted, relied upon, and heard. Encourage employees to bring their authentic selves to work.
- Assess team members’ job satisfaction regularly and address DEI concerns from
- Provide flexible work arrangements to accommodate diverse needs, such as approving time away from work for an employee to attend a religious ceremony or for health reasons.
Step 3 – Achieve Success through Retention and Promotion
Hiring candidates from equity groups is only one piece of a much larger effort. An equity plan aimed at increasing diversity should also include strategies on how to retain and promote candidates from the designated groups.
- An equity program should not seek to displace current employees to achieve its aims.
- Instead, equity plans need growth and development strategies that lead to positions being filled by members of the designated equity groups. This includes the provision of training and professional development to enhance skills for all employees.
Over time, representative diversity should exist at all levels of an organization, including leadership positions.
- Support employees in navigating professional environments. For example, help new employees become acquainted with the organization’s language and unwritten norms. This could include efforts that promote and encourage mentorship programs and networking.
- Help every employee to see their potential career trajectory within the organization and create opportunities that assist employees along the way.
- Ensure there are role models from diverse backgrounds at every level of an organization.
- Track retention of the designated equity group members by level and by team.
Step 4 – Implement Best Practices and Policies
The periodic review of an equity plan should consider overall effectiveness, areas for improvement, and new developments.
- Create measures that address systemic barriers to workplace participation, with a focus on hiring, training, and retention of members of equity groups.
- Use both quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate progress towards DEI goals.
- Focus on progressive, comprehensive, sustainable growth and development rather than metrics that do not address systemic issues.
- Ensure that workplace policies are well written, followed, and enforced. Communicate that HR policies are not created just for compliance, but also to demonstrate company values.
- Policies should communicate the organization’s commitment to DEI and a corporate desire for change.
- Formalize processes to address discriminatory behaviours in the workplace and enforce policies when discrimination occurs.
- Consider using regular reputational risk assessments for possible DEI issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, harassment, disability discrimination, and other forms of discrimination.
Step 4 – Be a Learning Organization
Learning organizations adapt and evolve to rapidly changing demands. Learning organizations acknowledge that there are many employers actively working to improve DEI in their workplaces. In turn, they benefit from the success of others by adapting best practices.
Many of the ideas in this document were adapted from the work of Employment Equity Partners and leading organizations like those listed below. For further ideas on how to enhance DEI in your workplace, please visit:
This organization has developed the Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Benchmarks.
In partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, BlackNorth created a “Playbook” to provide organizations with context on the situation that the Black community faces in Canada, and tools organizations can use to fulfill their DEI goals.
The Boston Consulting Group partners with companies to implement proven diversity strategies and diversity and inclusion best practices.
The Government of Saskatchewan’s Inclusion Toolkit contains many valuable resources to support DEI efforts and initiatives.
- The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission’s policy on Employment Equity can be found here: .(INSERT LINK)
For more information, to become an Employment Equity Partner, or to speak with an Equity Advisor, contact the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission at 306-933-5952 or by email at [email protected].