Definitions and Key Terms | Human Rights & Positive Environment | UNB

Definitions and key terms

Understanding the language of human rights is integral to supporting a positive environment and when identifying behaviours or situations that require intervention; the following list will support you in broadening your understanding of key equity, diversity and inclusion terms. 

Also see the new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Glossary Project on the UNB Equity, Diversity & Inclusion website

The language of human rights

Behaviour which serves no legitimate purpose and which the instigator knows, or ought reasonably to know, has the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive environment.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • bullying,
  • intimidation,
  • coercion,
  • physical assault,
  • vexatious or malicious comment, or
  • the abuse of power, authority or influence.

Behaviour conducted in whole or in part through electronic means shall be included within this definition. The reasonable exercise of administrative or academic authority does not of itself constitute harassment.

Conduct of a sexual nature such as, but not limited to, verbal abuse or threats of a sexual nature, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, demands for sexual favours, or repeated innuendos or taunting about a person's body, appearance or sexual orientation, constitutes sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, academic status or academic accreditation, or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, or for academic performance, status or accreditation decisions affecting such individual, or
  • such conduct interferes with an individual's work or academic performance, or
  • such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.

Differential treatment of an individual or group of individuals which is based, in whole or in part, on one or more ground as defined [in the Policy Statement], and which thus has an adverse impact on the individual or group of individuals; or the application of a seemingly fair and equal rule, policy, process or procedure to an individual or group of individuals which, as a result of one or more ground of that individual or group, has an adverse impact on [them] that would not be suffered by others who do not share such ground. (UNB Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment, 2011)

The New Brunswick Human Rights Act forbids discrimination and harassment on a series of “grounds” in the provision of employment, accommodation or services:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Age
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Social condition, and
  • Political belief or activity

“Services” under the Human Rights Act has been determined to include the provision of educational services such as those provided by UNB.

In its Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, UNB extends the list of Human Rights Grounds to include “Gender identity”.

In its Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment, UNB extends the list of protected grounds to include those groups identified in the various collective agreements.

Note: Resolution of complaints based on grounds beyond those defined in the New Brunswick Human Rights Act may be limited to the internal processes of the university.

Not to be confused with “equality”, equity helps us focus on treating individuals fairly rather than treating everyone the same.

Since we all have different abilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, cultural practices and beliefs, it is important that we attempt to recognize and respect those differences in the way we treat each individual person. Equity involves ensuring that every member of a community is treated fairly according to his or her own personal needs and identities.

It is often necessary to ensure that people are treated differently but equitably rather than equally, since equal treatment – enforcing the same rules on everyone – can sometimes lead to unfairness.

A program designed to address historical disadvantages faced by some members of our society in attempting to take part in the workforce. The University of New Brunswick is a signatory to the Federal Contractors Program (FCP), an employment equity program instituted by the Federal Government that applies to all organizations that have contracts with the Federal Government totaling in excess of $200,000 per year.

The FCP creates four “Designated Groups”, representing communities within our society that have traditionally faced disadvantage in participating in the Canadian workforce. These Designated Groups are Women, Persons with Disabilities, members of Racialized Communities (called “Visible Minorities) and Aboriginal People.

The FCP is not a quota program, nor does it require UNB to hire people who are not qualified for employment positions. It does, however, require UNB to do the following:

  1. Conduct surveys of its employees to establish the levels of representation in its workforce of the four Designated Groups;
  2. Keep the data collected in the surveys in a completely confidential database and only use the data in aggregate form;
  3. Analyse the data collected in the surveys to establish the representation of the Designated Groups in various Occupational Groups across the workforce;
  4. Compare the representation of the Designated Groups in the UNB workforce with the representation of the Designated Groups in the pool of qualified people from which UNB hires its employees;
  5. Identify gaps in the UNB workforce, areas where the representation of one or more Designated Groups is significantly lower than it is in the pool of qualified people from which UNB hires employees into that particular Occupational Group;
  6. Where gaps have been identified, conduct Employment Systems Reviews (ESR) to ascertain why each gap has occurred – an ESR involves reviewing every aspect of the employment process (from initial design of each position, through advertising, recruitment, interviewing and hiring, all the way to issues of promotion and retention) for potential barriers to the participation of members of that particular Designated Group;
  7. Create a plan to address the problems identified in the ESRs and to “close the gaps”;
  8. Hire the best qualified candidate for every position but, where a gap has been identified and two or more candidates for a position are relatively equal in qualifications for the position, hire the candidate who is a member of the under-represented Designated Group.

Canadian society has moved beyond the idea of merely “tolerating” difference and has, instead, committed itself to the concept of “inclusion” – creating a society where all of the diverse members of our community are included in all aspects of that society. This means taking steps to ensure that our facilities, buildings, programs, policies, practices and procedures all take into account the diversity of our community in their basic plan and design.

For example, when UNB builds a new building or renovates an older one, efforts are made to include into the design features that ensure the building is accessible to people with various disabilities. Faculty members and instructors are constantly looking for ways to improve their teaching methods to ensure they are able to reach all the diverse students in the classroom. Universal Instructional Design, or UID, is one such strategy.

As well, inclusion means incorporating different views, resources and text material from a range of cultural and historical perspectives in course readings and assignments. Ensuring accessibility of print material in alternate formats, such as large print or e-text and spoken material in print formats enhances inclusion of people with sensory disabilities.

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is inherently unique, and recognizing individual differences. Diversity is commonly used to refer to differing dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies.