Factsheet 2

What is Assessed in an Employment Equity Audit


Employers must comply with nine Employment Equity (“EE”) obligations:

  • Collect information about the level of representation among its employees of the four designated groups;
  • Compare the level of representation among its employees of the four designated groups with labour market availability (the Workforce Analysis);
  • Review employment systems (the Employment Systems Review);
  • Create an Employment Equity Plan (the EEP);
  • Implement and measure the results of its EEP;
  • Periodically review and revise its EEP;
  • Share information with employees about employment equity;
  • Consult and collaborate with employees and/or bargaining agents (where applicable);
  • Maintain records about EE.

There is no mathematical formula to determine whether an employer meets its obligations under the Act. Different employers are at different stages and have different capacities. Auditors balance the need to be consistent with the need to evaluate each employer based on its particular circumstances. What is required of an employer, including the contents of an EE plan, will vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Is this the first time the employer is being audited?
  • Has the employer had an EE plan before, or does the audit trigger the creation of their first plan?
  • Has the employer achieved relatively good representation of the some or all members of the four designated groups?

The Commission approaches its assessment of compliance with the overarching purpose of the Act in mind: to achieve a fair level of representation of members of the four designated groups and, where this does not exist, to take reasonable steps to remove barriers preventing fair representation. As such, it is very important to remember that the information provided here is a general guide intended to assist employers to prepare for and participate in an audit. The factors below are not a list that the Commission applies mechanically.

Employers who are being audited are encouraged to discuss these indicators and the evidence expected with Commission staff.

Factors that indicate compliance

1. Collecting EE information about your employees (see COLLECTION OF INFORMATION ABOUT EMPLOYEES

The employer supports maximum participation in the survey by:

  • Providing adequate information on EE and on the survey prior to administration of the survey;
  • Tracking the return rate and following up with people who do not respond;
  • Ensuring confidentiality in the process used to collect information and in the storage of information.

The employer keeps the results of the survey up-to-date as employees leave and join the organization

2. Compares the levels of designated group members among its employees with workforce availability (see Identifying under-representation of designated groups in your workforce

The Commission prefers that data be compiled using the Workplace Equity Information Management System (“WEIMS”)

  • If WEIMS is used, an explanation of any changes to the defaults is required
  • If WEIMS is not used, private sector employers must provide an explanation for the level of analysis (NOC or EEOG) and the recruiting area for each occupational group
  • If tailored availability estimates are used, a rationale must be provided explaining the need for tailored estimates and justifying the data set chosen 

3. Regularly conducts an Employment Systems Review (see What is an “employment systems review” and an “employment equity plan”?)  

The employer regularly reviews its employment systems, policies and practices to determine if any of these constitute a barrier for members of each of the designated groups.

  • A barrier can be physical, structural, or attitudinal:
  • A physical barrier would be steps to enter a building;
  • A structural barrier might be a policy establishing a set level of education when that level is not required;
  • An attitudinal barrier would be seeing members of a designated group as being “less than”.

When underrepresentation is identified

For each occupational group where under-representation is identified for designated group members, the employer reviews its employment systems, policies and practices with respect to: 

  • Recruitment
  • Selection and Hiring
  • Development and Training
  • Promotion
  • Retention and Termination 
  • Accommodation 

The employer also has a process to review new systems, employment policies and practices to ensure that they do not create other barriers.

1. Create (or revise) an Employment Equity Plan (EEP)

If there are gaps in the representation of the members of any one of the four designated groups, an employer must create an EEP.

An EEP is a document that sets out a plan (actions, timelines, persons responsible etc.) to address employment barriers and under-representation of designated groups. The EE Plan must respond to barriers identified in the ESR.

A good EEP will include:

  • the policies and practices in place and/or to be implemented about hiring, training, promotion and retention of people from the designated groups, as well as for making reasonable accommodations for those people;
  • special measures to address the underrepresentation of designated group members;
  • short-term numerical goals for the hiring and promotion of designated group members in occupational groups where they are under-represented;
  • longer-term goals for increasing the representation of persons in designated groups, and the employer’s strategy for achieving those goals;
  • creating clear performance activities for goals.

2. Implement & measure the results of the EEP 

  • The employer monitors the implementation of its EEP on a regular basis to assess whether reasonable progress has been made.
  • The employer holds managers accountable for the achievement of EE goals and the implementation of the EE plan.
  • The EE plan is monitored in consultation with the employee representatives.
  • Over the years the Commission has learned that the more effective EE Plans are supported by an EE Committee which:
    • meets quarterly
    • includes representatives from the designated groups, senior management and employee representatives
    • regularly prepares activity and performance reports which are available to employees and management

3. Periodically review and revise the EEP 

  • The employer updates the EE plan (including its short-term numerical goals) based on changing circumstances.
  • The update process includes consultation with the employee representatives.

4. Shares information with employees about employment equity 

  • The employer demonstrates that it provides information to employees about the purpose of EE.
  • The employer keeps its employees informed about the measures it has undertaken or is planning to undertake to implement EE. 
  • The employer keeps its employees informed about the progress made in implementing EE. 

5. Consult & collaborate with employees and/or bargaining agents 

  • The employer invites its employee representatives to provide their views on how they could assist the organization in implementing EE and communicate EE matters to employees. 
  • The employee representatives are invited to provide their views on the preparation, implementation and revision of the EE plan. 
  • Where employees are represented by bargaining agents, they shall collaborate in the preparation, implementation and revision of the employer’s EE plan.

(Pursuant to the EE Act, consultation on issues of EE is not a form of co-management.)

6. Maintain records about employment equity

  • The employer demonstrates that it maintains records regarding its’ workforce, the EE plan and the implementation of employment equity by the employer.
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