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Collecting human rights-based data – yes you can!

collecting-dataThe Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently launched a new guide that provides information and advice on collecting human rights-based data in a wide variety of sectors across Ontario. The guide, Count me in!, aims to dispel fears of collecting human rights-based data, and provides a plain language, common-sense framework for collecting said data in a way that can build trust and encourage proactive solutions.

According to OHRC Chief Commissioner, Barbara Hall, fears of misuse lead some organizations to avoid collecting human rights-based data. However in her opinion, “you can’t solve human rights problems without all the information.” But it can be done if you have the necessary data.

The point is to collect and use the data in the right context and way. She adds, “Collecting human rights-based data can help, whether you’re looking for indications of racial profiling or for opportunities to expand to new markets. Each of our partners agrees that this kind of information is the right thing, and also the smart thing, to collect.”

A growing number of businesses, public sector and non-profit employers are finding that collecting data can play a useful and often essential role in creating strong human rights and human resources strategies.

The guide includes best practice examples of how data collection can improve internal work environments, provide better customer service, promote higher productivity, identify opportunities for growth and have a positive effect on the bottom line. It will help you understand when it is a good idea to collect data, what sort of data and for what purpose, and how to collect data in a way that is consistent with the Human Rights Code.

The guide provides case studies from various OHRC partners, such as KPMG. Bill Thomas, CEO of KPMG Canada, explains how collecting human rights-based data helps them: “At KPMG our goal is to create an inclusive work environment that respects each and every member of our team … Our goal is also to celebrate and encourage the variety of perspectives our people bring to the table. Collecting data helps us to learn what those perspectives are, and what steps we can take to continue to be an employer of choice.”

Count me in! is available in English and French, in a variety of formats. Each can be downloaded from the OHRC website.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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