FAQs: Employment Equity & Federal Contractors Program (FCP)

Employment Equity

What is employment equity?

Employment Equity is a program designed to ensure that all job applicants and employees have a fair chance in the workplace. It is achieved when no person is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to their abilities.

An employment equity program attempts to achieve:

  •  A workforce that reflects the diversity of the available labour force
  • Employment systems, policies and practices that support the recruitment, retention and promotion of designated group members
  • Employment systems that ensure all employees have an equitable opportunity to develop their abilities, realize their expectations and make the best contribution possible to the workplace

Why is employment equity necessary?

The federal government identifies four groups - Women, Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, and Members of Visible Minorities - that had limited employment opportunities and therefore are under-represented in the Canadian workforce. These groups experience high unemployment rates, lower than average salaries, and concentration in low-status jobs. Employment equity measures remove systemic barriers that may prevent members of these four groups from full participation in the workplace.

What are ‘systemic barriers’ to employment?

The term ‘systemic barriers' refers to situations, policies and/or practices, which unfairly exclude particular groups from full and active participation in the workplace. These ‘barriers' are varied and can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • sexism, racism or prejudices which manifest in the workplace
  • physical barriers which prevent disabled people from accessing or participating fully in the workplace
  • lack of access to education or training
  • lack of accommodation of family responsibilities (caregivers of young children or elderly parents)
  • impact of child rearing responsibilities on the tenure and promotion process
  • "chilly climate": an environment which has the effect of excluding or undermining a person or a group of people in a working environment
  • lack of awareness of cross-cultural issues (particularly in communications)

Federal Contractors Program

What is the FCP?

The FCP ensures that organizations that do business with the Government of Canada achieve and maintain a workforce that is representative of the Canadian workforce population. Under the terms of the FCP, companies or institutions seeking contracts for goods and services from the federal government are required to be committed to employment equity and to have a plan in place that contains specific initiatives through which employment equity will be accomplished. As of October 2010, OCAD U elected to voluntarily participate in the FCP.

What are the expected results of undertaking this initiative?

If employment equity is successfully implemented, the key outcomes should be that equitable employment systems are developed with systemic barriers removed for all employees, and equitable representation is achieved in all occupations including positions of authority. Overall, it is anticipated that employment equity, when effectively implemented, will also result in the development of a positive workplace culture for all employees. This last result is outside the formal goals of FCP and not a subject of this evaluation, but a central concern in current thinking about employment equity. Such change is possibly the most difficult employment equity outcome to achieve, since changes to workplace culture are challenging and may require special activities to take place over a number of years.

Where can I learn more about the Federal Contractors Program and Employment Equity in Canada?

To learn more about implementation of the Federal Contractor's Program at OCAD U, please contact Amanda Hotrum, Director, Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives at 416.977.6000, Ext. 4860 or by email at ahotrum@ocad.ca

For general information regarding employment equity and the Federal Contractors Program, please visit the following Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) sites:
Employment Equity Standard
Federal Contractor's Program

Survey Process

What is the employment equity workforce survey?

The employment equity workforce survey asks OCAD U faculty and staff to identify whether or not they belong to one or more of the following designated groups - Women, Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities and Members of Visible Minorities.  These groups, as identified by the federal government, have been systemically under-represented in the Canadian workforce.  The information collected in the self-identification survey is necessary to determine the present makeup of OCAD U's faculty and staff. This data will then be used to identify employment equity initiatives to address gaps in OCAD U's hiring and retention practices.

The survey also asks additional questions, not required by the FCP, in recognition that additional groups beyond those designated by the federal government experience systemic under-representation and discrimination in the workplace.    Furthermore, these questions will allow OCAD U to get a clearer picture of the make-up of its workforce to guide the development of initiatives that best meet the needs of OCAD U employees

Hard-copies of the questionnaire will also be available at the Office of Diversity and Equity Initiatives located at 230 Richmond St. W., Level 6. If you require an alternative format for the survey, please contact our office by email at accessibility@ocad.ca or by phone at 416.977.6000 ext.3840.

Who is eligible to complete the employment equity workforce survey?

All permanent full-time, permanent part-time and temporary employees who work more than 12 weeks in a calendar year are eligible to complete the survey. Students Monitors and employees who work less than 12 weeks will not be surveyed.

What will be done with the information provided in the employment equity workforce survey?

The Office of Diversity & Equity Initiatives will be producing numerical reports for the purpose of reviewing and improving OCAD U's employment practices and maintaining OCAD U's participation in the Federal Contractors Program. Responses to the survey are reported in aggregate form and are not used in individual personnel decisions. To develop OCAD U's employment equity program, the Office of Diversity and Equity initiatives will be tracking hiring, promotions, and departures on a continuing basis.

Why isn’t the survey anonymous?

The survey is confidential but not anonymous. To be able to develop aggregate statistics based on occupational codes, the University must be able to link your equity data to the occupational code your position is classified under. In addition, the FCP may ask the University to report on aggregate promotions, training, terminations, etc. To do so, the University must be able to track these changes. In all reports provided to the FCP and any internal University report, only aggregate data is used. Equity data on individuals is never reported to ensure confidentiality.

Can I choose to opt-out of the employment equity workforce survey?

Completing and submitting the survey is mandatory; however, each question offers you the choice to ‘opt-out'.  By selecting ‘opt-out', you may submit the survey without providing responses.  You may choose to answer all, some or none of the questions.

Will my survey responses be kept in my employee file?

No, survey responses will not be kept in your Human Resources employee file.  The data will collected by the Office of Diversity & Equity Initiatives and will be kept strictly confidential.  Any data that is provided to the FCP or any internal University reports will be provided in summary form and will not identify individual persons.

Can I change the information I provide on the survey at a later date?

Yes. At any time in the future, you can update your online survey responses or re-submit a hard copy. Hard-copies may be submitted to the office of Diversity and Equity Initiatives via inter-office mail or in-person in the drop-box located outside of the office at 115 McCaul St, Level 2.

Why does the self-identification questionnaire include additional questions beyond what is required by the FCP guidelines?

FCP guidelines require OCAD U to collect data on the workforce representation of four designated groups - Women, Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities and Members of Visible Minorities.

That being said, OCAD U recognizes that there are additional communities outside of the four designated groups which have experienced barriers to full and active participation in the workforce.

The inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity questions in the survey are intended to signify the University's recognition of the historical discrimination against these groups and its commitment to a discrimination-free workplace.

The inclusion of questions pertaining to family status, religion and languages spoken are intended to provide OCAD U with a clearer picture of the make-up of its workforce to guide the development of initiatives that best meet the needs of OCAD U employees.

Acknowledgements: OCAD U's Office of Diversity & Equity Initiatives wishes to acknowledge the following institutions, whose related online content provided background in the development of this website: University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario & Queens University.

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