What is Employment Equity?

It is not that individuals in the designated groups are inherently unable to achieve equality on their own, it is that the obstacles in their way are so formidable and self-perpetuating that they cannot be overcome without intervention. It is both intolerable and insensitive if we simply wait and hope that the barriers will disappear with time. Equality in employment will not happen unless we make it happen.
—Rosalie Abella
Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, 1984

The term “employment equity” was coined by Judge Rosalie Abella in the 1984 Report of the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment to encompass a range of measures designed to achieve equality in work places so that no person is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. The objective of employment equity is to create and maintain a workforce that is representative of the demographic mix in the appropriate recruitment area or applicant pool for the occupation.
In her report, Abella identified four “designated” groups as the focus of employment equity measures: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons who are (because of their race or colour) in a visible minority in Canada. These groups are targeted for special attention because their labour-market experience reveals long-standing patterns of high unemployment, lower than average pay rates, and concentration in lower status jobs with limited opportunities for advancement.

Evidence indicates that, despite their increased participation in the Canadian labour force and despite the introduction of human rights legislation, equal access to employment continues to be denied to the four designated groups because of systemic discrimination. Many employment barriers are hidden in the policies, practices and sometimes even the facilities that employers provide to manage their human resources. Discrimination can result if these systems encourage or discourage individuals because they are members of certain groups. To create a climate of true equality, steps must be taken to remove systemic employment barriers and prevent them from recurring.

From – http://www.now.carleton.ca/2005-04/739.htm

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