Skip to main content
True North Living » Cause » The Strive for Equality and Freedom in the Workplace
Human Rights

The Strive for Equality and Freedom in the Workplace

Pride at Work Canada's Executive Director during a Toronto Roundtable
Pride at Work Canada's Executive Director during a Toronto Roundtable
Pride at Work Canada's Executive Director during the Toronto Roundtable: Strategies for Addressing Prejudiced Clients in Nov. 2019. Photos courtesy of Pride at Work Canada.
Luis Augusto Nobre, Pride at Work Canada

Luis Augusto Nobre

Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Pride at Work Canada

Celebrating LGBTQ2+ inclusion in workplaces is one more way to promote human rights for everyone.

At Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada, we envision a world in which every individual can achieve their full potential. That’s why we’re working to build more inclusive workplaces in Canada, ones that support workers so they can thrive in their careers, regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

For inspiration we look to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first article of which says that we are all born free and equal in dignity and rights. Through our work we have come to know that, despite this truth, the reality is quite different for the many people who are disadvantaged by biphobia, homophobia, and transphobia in Canada and around the world.

Canada’s inclusivity

This Human Rights Day we must celebrate and recognize that Canada has become a leader in human rights protections and LGBTQ2+ inclusion. Protective laws and broad public support for Pride celebrations have created an image of Canada as a safe place for LGBTQ2+ people. For years Canada has welcomed LGBTQ2+ immigrants and refugees fleeing persecutions and state-sponsored biphobic, homophobic, and transphobic violence since being LGBTQ2+ is illegal in more than 70 countries, in some cases punishable by death.

After more than seven decades of the UDHR and despite many advancements in human rights, the community we serve celebrates Human Rights Day still facing many challenges. Though viewed by many as a global leader in human rights, we must recognize that Canada is far from perfect.

Governments at all levels of Canadian society must deal with violation issues impacting queer and trans communities from coast to coast to coast. After arriving in Canada, many LGBTQ2S+ newcomers will enjoy an increased sense of security but continue to face systemic challenges related to housing and employment.

Intrinsic biases

These issues also exist for LGBTQ2+ people born in Canada. Research data shows that LGBTQ2+ professionals with undergraduate degrees experience poorer employment outcomes than their peers. Because of biphobia, homophobia, and transphobia, they earn lower wages. Additional forms of discrimination, such as racism or ableism, add complexity to how some LGBTQ2+ people must navigate Canada’s job market. Additionally, increased experiences with trauma contribute to poorer mental health outcomes for LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, which exacerbate upward mobility and impede our community’s progress.

Practices like “conversion therapy” are a violation of basic human rights. It causes lasting trauma in individuals who have been submitted to such “treatments.” This reprehensible practice remains permissible in some Canadian jurisdictions. Despite an international movement for its elimination that has the support of leading advocates and youth, the federal government has yet to ban this harmful practice.

Support within the community

Organizations like Pride at Work Canada, ones that are governed and staffed by LGBTQ2+ people and allies, have been moving the needle on these chilling realities for years.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done. Since 2008, Pride at Work Canada has supported public, private, and non-profit employers to build more inclusive workplaces and bring down barriers to employment. When people can be their authentic selves at work they perform better, they achieve more and that’s of benefit to everyone in Canada. If we’re to continue to improve outcomes this Human Rights Day, we must remember — we’re all equal in dignity and rights.

Next article