WHAT IS THE EQUITY PROGRAM?
The SHRC equity program is a broad, proactive strategy for promoting equity and preventing discrimination. It is based on principles of flexibility, accessibility, expansion, innovation, and accountability.
Under the equity program, the Commission approves and supports equity plans of specific organizations, which are known as Equity Partners. To make the advantages of equity plans available to a wide range of initiatives, the Commission keeps approval requirements to a minimum. At the same time, it encourages creativity, provides partners with information and support, and encourages information sharing. For more details see the SHRC equity program, and the SHRC Policy on Equity Programs.
WHY EQUITY WORKS
Equity plans are effective when designed to target specific barriers experienced by equity groups. They can be combined easily with other positive strategies for creating inclusive workplaces and learning environments. Here are some of their benefits:
- Preferential measures lead to faster progress, and the right to use them can only be provided by an equity plan approved by the SHRC.
- 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 practitioners often seek human rights training and educational resources. The Commission can provide educational support on harassment, the duty to accommodate, discrimination prevention, and other topics which are important to the success of equity, diversity, and representative workforce programs.
- The SHRC equity program is a comprehensive, well-developed program that can address the needs of all equity groups or any combination of them. 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.
Benefits of Equity in Employment and Education
There are many good reasons for adopting equity plans. They can help employers, service agencies, and educational institutions:
- 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
- ensure equality of educational benefit to all students
- provide better services to an increasingly diverse clientele
- address historical and structural barriers to equal opportunity, participation, and benefit
- promote human rights values of equality, individual dignity, and mutual respect
- create an inclusive environment, in which all participants can contribute and achieve their full potential and make a valuable contribution
- promote the engagement of all groups in creating a prosperous, harmonious society in Saskatchewan in the 21st century
HOW DO EQUITY PLANS WORK?
Equity plans focus on identifying and removing specific barriers to success experienced by groups of individuals known as equity groups. To date, the Commission has identified Indigenous Peoples, women in underrepresented occupations, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities/racialized groups as appropriate subjects for equity plans.
Equity groups face more disadvantages than others in education, employment, and other public areas of life. Widespread negative attitudes can limit the opportunities of many people. Other barriers may be rooted in 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 provincial culture of inclusion while giving individuals equal opportunities to participate, benefit, and make a contribution.
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 definition section). The equity program is also open to new equity groups. 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 have broad objectives that are designed to reduce or eliminate barriers encountered by members of the four equity groups. Equity plans, on the other hand, particularize dealing with the barriers faced by a specific equity groups. Equity programs and plans are expected to be submitted to the Commission for approval, to ensure that they meet the set guidelines.