Employment Equity Regulations – Employment Systems Review – IPG-113

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Review of employment systems, policies and practices under the Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP), commonly referred to as an employment systems review (ESR).


This guideline clarifies how employers should review their employment systems, policies and practices when implementing employment equity, in compliance with:

It includes guidance and tools for the main steps of the ESR, as well as the summary report.


LEEP covers federally regulated private-sector employers, including Crown corporations and other federal organizations, that are subject to the Act.

Employers must conduct an ESR to identify employment barriers faced by persons in designated groups.

Employers must base the ESR on results of the workforce analysis. Employers must include measures to eliminate barriers in their employment equity plan and implement them. An employment equity plan table is provided to support this planning (Employment Equity Task 5).


Designated groups

Designated groups are “women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.”


The Act does not define women. Guidance is available for the collection of data on women (see Collection of Workforce Information).

Aboriginal peoples

Aboriginal peoples are “persons who are Indians, Inuit or Métis.” Indigenous peoples’ and ‘First Nations’ are more commonly used than ‘Aboriginal peoples’ and ‘Indians.’

Persons with disabilities

Persons with disabilities are “persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and who

  1. consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or
  2. believe that a [sic] employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment,

and includes persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace.”

Members of visible minorities

Members of visible minorities are “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”

Employment systems, policies and practices

Employment systems, policies and practices include all of an organization’s formal and informal policies and practices. Formal policies and practices are official, written rules of conduct in the workplace. Informal policies and practices are not official or written, they are the norms that employees actually follow and practice in the workplace.

Employment barriers

An employment barrier is an employment policy or practice that has a disproportionately negative impact on 1 or more members of designated groups (impact) and that:

Workforce analysis

Workforce analysis determines the underrepresentation of members of designated groups within an employer’s workforce. It does so by comparing the representation of members of designated groups within the employer’s workforce with their representation within the broader Canadian workforce. It includes a flow data analysis, the identification of pay gaps and can involve a clustering analysis.

Canadian workforce

The Canadian workforce refers to “all persons in Canada of working age who are willing and able to work”. It can also refer to parts of that population “identifiable by qualification, eligibility or geography and from which the employer may reasonably be expected to draw employees”. The Minister of Labour provides information on the Canadian workforce to employers. It is based on data from Statistics Canada and is only updated when new data is available.

Flow data analysis

Flow data analysis focuses on occupational movement: hires, promotions, and terminations. It seeks to determine if members of designated groups are over- or under-represented in these movements.

Clustering analysis

A clustering analysis determines if designated group members are in a disproportionately high ratio in:

Employment Equity Occupational Groups

There are 14 Employment Equity Occupational Groups (EEOGs):


Employee means a “person who is employed by the employer, but does not include a person employed on a temporary or casual basis for fewer than 12 weeks in a calendar year.”


Hired means an employee has been “engaged by the employer.”


Promoted means an employee has “permanently moved from one position or job in the employer’s organization to another position or job that

  1. has a higher salary or higher salary range than the salary or salary range of the position or job previously held by the employee, and
  2. ranks higher in the organizational hierarchy of the employer.”


Terminated means “retired, resigned, laid off, dismissed or otherwise having ceased to be an employee, but does not include laid off temporarily or absent by reason of illness, injury or a labour dispute.”


Accommodations are flexible initiatives, adjustments and supports to policies, practices and tools that must be provided to a designated group or individual within the group. This allows groups or individuals within the group to participate fully and equally in the workplace — up to the point of undue hardship on the employer, considering health, safety and cost.


Attitudes refer to the beliefs individuals hold that influence both their behaviour and their perceptions of designated group members.

Organizational culture

Organizational culture refers to the shared understanding of how things should be done in an organization. It represents the organization’s core values and what management and employees value.


Employers must review their employment systems, policies and practices to identify employment barriers when they have identified underrepresentation of persons in designated groups in any Employment Equity Occupational Group (EEOG) during their workforce analysis.

These employment systems, policies and practices relate to the:

Employers must also review for employment barriers any new employment systems, policies or practices relating to these employment activities that they implement.

In addition, employers must:


Who should conduct the ESR

A human resource official with extensive knowledge of the employer’s employment systems, policies and practices should lead the ESR. The ESR should also involve others (See Employment Equity Task 4 - Review Your Employment Systems for examples).

Employers should update their ESR at least once every 3 years as part of an employer’s review of their employment equity plan.

How to conduct an employment systems review

  1. Identify any representation gaps from the organization’s workforce analysis, including the flow data and/or clustering analyses, or any pay gap identified through reporting salary.
  2. For each gap, list all formal human resource policies and practices related to:
    • This list should also include compensation policies and practices, as well as policies and practices that pertain to attitudes and organizational culture.
  3. For each gap, list all informal human resources policies and actual practices. Since these are not written down, consult other employees or managers across the organization to complete this list (See Employment Equity Task 4 - Review Your Employment Systems for examples).
  4. After listing all formal and informal human resource policies and practices, determine which of those may be creating employment barriers for designated groups. To do so, employers should assess each policy and practice in terms of the following criteria:
    • impact
    • legality
    • consistency
    • validity
    • accommodative nature
  5. Once completed, employers should document the results of this assessment by:
    • listing the policies and practices that are causing employment barriers, and
    • detailing the assessment in the employment equity plan table (Employment Equity Task 5).

Making recommendations to remove barriers

Once employers have documented all barriers, they should identify ways to remove them for respective policies and practices. Employers should then document these recommendations in the employment equity plan table.

Developing a process to review new policies and practices

To prevent employment barriers, employers should develop a process to review any new employment systems, policies and practices before they start implementing them (See Employment Equity Task 4 - Review Your Employment Systems for examples).

How to write a summary report of your employment systems review

Employers must describe the activities carried out during their employment systems review. This summary report should include the following parts:

Further guidance

Further guidance on the employment systems review is provided here.

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