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Providing a safe and equitable workplace

As an employer, you are responsible for providing a safe and equitable workplace for all employees, including co-op students. This means:

Many employers based in Canada fall under the regulations of the Employment Equity Act which helps employees have the same access to the labour market. Other employers adhere to provincial regulations.

Write inclusive job postings

Candidates today are carefully selecting who they want to work for. Creating inclusive job postings that reflect your company's equity and diversity initiatives can help your posting stand out.

Here are some strategies to keep in mind:

Use clear, concise and objective language

  • use gender-neutral language (avoid gender-coded words like "competitive", "dominant", "leader" and "caring"
  • use the word "you" instead of gendered pronouns
  • avoid using ableist language (for example, unless the position requires driving, requiring a valid driver's license and reliable transportation excludes applicants)
  • use plain language instead of corporate language, jargon and acronyms
  • divide large job postings into sections with descriptive headings
  • use headings and formatting that can be read by a screen reader 

Think about the job requirements

  • be clear about whether the position is full-time, permanent or short-term
  • if the role is a preferential or restricted hire, have a plan on how you will support the successful candidate and avoid tokenism
  • are the requirements necessary for the position? If not, remove them or list them as optional
  • think about what subjective terms you use in the job posting (for example, a candidate may not think they have "excellent writing skills" while readers of their work might think they do, so consider saying something like "ability to create communication materials for a variety of audiences" instead)  
  • outline the job requirements in objective terms and reflect on how they impact the role
  • encourage applicants to apply even if they don't meet all the requirements (you can encourage them to describe other skills or qualities they would bring to the role)
  • if this is a Canadian job posting, be clear about whether the position is open to temporary residents (for example, "applicants who are legally able to work in Canada are welcome to apply")

Adopt an inclusive application process

  • give candidates options for how they can submit an application (for example, a video submission, through LinkedIn, via e-portfolio)
  • provide a contact that applicants can connect with to request accommodations or ask questions
  • outline the complete application process
  • inform all candidates about the outcome of their application (for example, saying "only successful applicants will be contacted" can discourage people from applying)

Describe your EDI initiatives

  • list your organization's equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives in the job posting to show your commitment to fostering an inclusive work environment
  • list training, professional development and mentorship opportunities
  • be clear about flexible schedules and remote work options
  • provide a salary range
  • include information about benefits and/or additional perks

Champion accessibility

Today, employers have a legal obligation to accommodate, but it can be hard to know where to start to make sure your team feel supported and included.

We consulted with students who identify as having a disability or mental health challenge and have created these questions that can help you develop an equity action plan with accessibility at its heart.

  • have you reflected on how accessibility influences your vision and mission?
  • how does your hiring process respect, engage with and respond to the diversity of applicants that identify as having a disability?
  • do you ask all applicants and new hires what they need to be successful during the interview and on the job? - this can help normalize request for accommodation and take the pressure off of applicants
  • is your organization committed to ongoing training, education and professional development around EDI?
  • does this training include accessibility practices and anti-bias training?
  • what has your organization done to create an inclusive and welcoming environment?
  • how do you promote these initiatives in your business communication?
  • does your retention plan include regular supervisor check-ins with conversations about wellbeing at work?
  • does your organization have a clear accommodation plan that includes privacy, evaluation and opportunities for feedback?
  • are your team members treated as experts on the topic of their own needs?
  • how are your team members involved in setting up, measuring and adjusting their accommodation plans? 
  • does your leadership team model a commitment to an inclusive culture?
  • is your leadership team actively involved in championing inclusion?

Learn about workplace standards

We've listed resources provided by the British Columbia and Canada's government below. We encourage you to learn more about the workplace standards in your area.

Have supportive conversations about performance

As an employer, you might be faced with times where an employee’s performance or commitment to their work changes significantly. These situations can be hard to address. 

Engaging in a conversation around performance can be hard to plan for, especially when the employee is facing underlying challenges that they haven’t disclosed to you. 

How to approach this type of sensitive conversation


  1. Remain factual and focus on the objective observations that have prompted you to be concerned and schedule a meeting. Any subjective assumptions that you or team members have brought forward should not be part of this meeting.
  2. Schedule a formal meeting about performance. Although it can be tempting to address challenges on the fly, scheduling a formal meeting makes it clear to the employee that a call to action is needed. This will also give you and the employee the time and space to understand the situation.
  3. Discuss clear expectations and offer to create an action plan together. Help the employee break down the expectations in smaller obtainable steps that can be evaluated objectively.
  4. Set an evaluation meeting. Demonstrate your commitment to the success of the employee by locking in a meeting to re-evaluate the action plan, celebrate the small improvements and readjust actions if needed.

If your employee uses this conversation to disclose particular information that call for an more formalized accommodation plan, you can access additional resources below. 

You can also access these resources from BC's Office of the Human Rights Commissioner before taking any disciplinary action.

Questions? Contact the accessibility and inclusion co-op coordinator.

Access equity hiring resources

 These resources may help your organization tap into a diverse pool of employees.

Support employees with disabilities

These external resources can help you learn about supporting employees who identify with a disability.