Fact Sheet #2c Workforce Survey

Level 1

Element: Communication and Consultation

Outcome 2: Consultation and communication begins regarding anti-discrimination and employment equity matters.

Indicator 2c): Communication and consultation with respect to conducting a legislated workforce survey required by the Employment Equity Act (EEA) has taken place.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

  • Communication strategy for the workforce survey.
  • Minutes or other evidence of meetings with employee groups while promoting survey.
  • Communication and consultation with bargaining agents on legislative requirements (workforce survey / analysis) as it relates to the EEA.

Indicator Description

The organization makes sure that it provides information to its employees about the purpose of employment equity and the need to participate in the self-identification survey. The organization also consults with employee representatives to obtain the views and the assistance that the representatives could provide in the communication strategies to conduct the workforce survey.

At Level 1, the employer is taking action towards meeting the basic requirements of the EEA and is using other available approaches to meet its requirements. At this stage, the organization would include, in its communication strategies, the views of key players such as, representatives from each of the four designated groups as well as bargaining agents, where employees are represented. In doing so, the organization will want to obtain the views of those representatives, or bargaining agents in unionized workplaces, relating to the dissemination of information and the process to use to carry out the workforce survey.

One example of this approach would be an organization that uses its regular labour-management meetings or Occupational Health and Safety Committee meetings to address questions that staff might have concerning the workforce survey. Responses to typical questions could be developed in consultation with bargaining agents or other employee representatives, and then made available to all staff through internal newsletters, bulletin boards, the organization’s Internet site, or similar ways. Such Q&As can help employees better understand the purpose of the self-identification survey, and can lessen concerns employees may have about the use and confidentiality of survey information.

Suggested Approach

Determining the proper communication strategies to inform employees about the workforce survey and consulting on the various initiatives with respect to the survey can require a lot of time and other resources. The Level 1 organization will therefore look carefully at the resources available to conduct the workforce survey. The organization’s approach may include the following:

  • Reviewing the requirements of the EEA as well as all related or accompanying documents, such as the Employment Equity Regulations and the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) guidelines for the EEA, to fully understand the work that is required.
  • Depending on the size and resources available, an organization may not have a dedicated resource on staff. In this case, an organization may be considering getting additional assistance, such as contracting a consultant on employment equity issues, to help conduct the workforce survey.
  • Assessing the data and the systems available to the organization to obtain the required information about its workforce, and determine if more information is required or if more work is to be done.
  • Planning all the work that would need to be completed with respect to the workforce survey and invite the representatives as well as the bargaining agents, where employees are represented, for consultations on the approaches that will be used.
  • Keeping a record of all discussions and/or decisions about the conduct of the workforce survey and ensuring that this information is available to the employees.
  • Finding ways (through intranet, bulletin boards, newsletters or other correspondence) to carry information to employees about the purpose of the workforce survey and communicate any updates or reminders about the survey.
  • Ensuring that the survey is available to all employees, including those employees with special needs.
  • Developing a follow-up mechanism to ensure the return of the survey.

Promising Practices

  • Involve employee representatives: To have better buy-in among employees and to contribute to the development of creative solutions from people who best understand the organization’s environment and challenges, some employers involve employees representing each of the four designated group, bargaining agents and/or employee associations to also take part with human resources and management on their role and contribution toward EE. 
  • Activate the internal communication network : Some organizations expand and redefine the organization’s current internal communication network such as message boards, intranet, staff meetings, to facilitate the flow of information relating to the workforce survey. 
  • Test the chosen survey approach on a sample group: A good way to determine whether the approach that you will use to conduct the self-identification survey will be well received by employees is to test that approach on a sample of your workforce (i.e. employees of a certain location, area, unit, division, etc.). This will give the organization a better idea of the responses’ result and also give the opportunity for the organization to make adjustments to the process.
  • Promotion campaign: Promoting your survey to employees with a well prepared promotion campaign or by holding a "Census Day" advertised ahead of time may engage employees to participate. That promotion campaign could include:
    • Important information about the purpose of employment equity and the self-identification;
    • Information clarifying the intention of conducting the survey in order to get a more accurate portrait of the organization’s workforce;
    • An explanatory sheet about the advantages of self-identification; and
    • A video, some posters and/or information sessions for the campaign destined for all employees and available in alternate formats.
  • Highlight the confidential nature of the survey: Highlighting the confidential nature of the survey and identifying the security measures that will be used to conduct the survey gives more confidence to employees about the process. As such, the organization identifies who will have access to the survey and informs employees that the information gathered will be kept separately from personal files. This approach may encourage employees to self-identify (specifically for those who have a disability or medical condition) and be confident that the information will be protected.  

Useful Tools and Links

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Employment Equity Act

Canadian Human Rights Act

Employment Equity Tools, Resources and Publications - Labour Program

Initiating an Employment Equity Program - Step 1 (archived) - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

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