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Equity Lens: Moving from Commitment to Action


The Board of Directors’ Equity Committee first identified the need for an Equity Lens for AMAPCEO in 2016-17. The tool was then developed through the collaboration of the Board, Equity Committee, and creation of a member-driven Equity Lens Working Group.

The release of AMAPCEO’s Equity Lens further advances our overarching commitment to ensuring full and equitable participation of our members.

The Equity Lens is designed to be a practical tool to support our efforts to be consistent and deliberate in moving equity and inclusion forward in our member engagement and services, through our volunteers and staff, to the benefit of our union and workplaces.

Our Board is determined to ensure that AMAPCEO remains a member-driven, accessible, and inclusive organization—not because it is required—but because we know that we are stronger when all our members are included.

The Equity Lens will breathe life into AMAPCEO’s Equity Statement in that we will:

  • be more aware of diversity,
  • incorporate a multiplicity of perspectives that will strengthen the capacity of our member teams and their work,
  • contribute to a positive and respectful work environment, and
  • aid in identifying and addressing the systemic barriers that our members face.

We urge you to make the Lens a part of your AMAPCEO work. In doing so, we will demonstrate that AMAPCEO is for all our members as we plan for, support, and protect our diverse membership.

- Cynthia Watt, Vice-President & Chair, Equity Committee

- Rob Smalley, Chief Operating Officer & Director, Labour Relations Services

AMAPCEO Equity Lens: Moving from Commitment to Action


AMAPCEO’s Equity Statement confirms that we will take proactive steps to ensure full and equitable participation is possible and will create an environment where AMAPCEO members are respected for their abilities and their potential. The Equity Lens is a practical tool to help bring AMAPCEO’s Equity Statement to action.

AMAPCEO supports the use of an Equity Lens as a tool to reflect and support equity and inclusion throughout our union.

The Equity Lens can help us move from the why (equity is the right thing to do) to the how (taking steps to ensure we are supporting inclusion and building equity).

Completion of AMAPCEO’s Equity and Inclusion online course will enhance your understanding and use of this Lens. See Appendix D - Additional Resources for the link to this member learning opportunity. 

What is the AMAPCEO Equity Lens?

The Equity Lens is a tool to help us analyze our actions and processes to ensure they support equity and inclusion. It is like a pair of glasses. It helps you see things from a new perspective and helps us to be more effective in our everyday work by getting a clearer focus and a more complete view of equity and inclusion. 

A pair of glasses over the word "EQUITY"

The Equity Lens is like a pair of glasses. It helps you see things from a new perspective and helps us to be more effective in our everyday work by getting a clearer focus and a more complete view of equity and inclusion.

The AMAPCEO Equity Lens can be used to support a culture in which equity is embedded in our union’s actions and processes. This means that:

  • equity is seen as an essential component of our member programs and services,
  • equity is systematically and holistically considered in the course of our business, and
  • we are committed to take proactive steps to ensure that equity happens.

The Equity Lens will help our union:

  • become more aware of diversity,
  • incorporate diversity of perspectives to strengthen the capacity of work and member teams,
  • contribute to a positive and respectful work environment, and
  • help address the systemic barriers that many of our members face.

Who is at risk of exclusion?

  • Francophones
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • LGBTQ+ People
  • People with Disabilities
  • Racialized People
  • Women

Who is the lens for?

The Equity Lens is for everyone:

  • Members and Activists
  • Staff
  • Partners and allies
  • Consultants and contractors providing services to AMAPCEO

How to use the AMAPCEO Equity Lens

The Equity Lens is an assessment tool that AMAPCEO can use to achieve greater equity, inclusion, and diversity for the benefit of individual members and our union as a whole. AMAPCEO members and staff should apply the AMAPCEO Equity Lens whenever they engage in delivering member programs and services.

The Equity Lens tool includes a set of guiding questions to be considered when planning, executing, or evaluating our union’s services, programs, or initiatives. The questions will help all of us diagnose barriers and identify, measure, and evaluate best practices regarding access, equity, and inclusion.

The aim is to ensure AMAPCEO continues to build equity within our union and ensure the equitable delivery of services to our diverse membership.

Where to start

Let us consider our own diversity, check our own assumptions, ask about inclusion, and apply our insights to our work, so we can create change.

Consider your diversity -> Check assumptions -> Ask about inclusion

Consider your diversity

Recognizing diversity within ourselves and others can help us understand how multiple factors influence the way we provide services, design policies and programs, or interact with others.

Each of us has multiple factors at play in our lives. Who we are, or how we identify, is largely a result of a variety of life experiences, social factors, and interactions with many different societal groups. It is this intersection, or crossover of our identities, that affects how we experience our union or workplace. This is called intersectionality.

Check assumptions and recognize biases

When we question our own ideas, we can discover new ways of understanding. To better understand people who risk exclusion and ways to check our assumptions, please see Appendix D - Additional Resources. Please keep in mind that each of us may identify with more than one group, and that individual personalities make each person unique.

Considering a situation from the perspective of those who risk exclusion is a key step in promoting equity and inclusion. It is an on-going learning process for everyone.

It is also important to recognize that everyone has biases. There are positive biases, towards something or someone; and there are negative baises, against something or someone.

Unconscious biases are ingrained habits of thought and prejudices that we may not be aware of, and they can lead to errors in how we perceive and make decisions in relation to others.

You can take active steps to break down your unconscious biases:

1. Start by questioning your assumptions. Why are you thinking a certain way?

2. Would you have the same conclusions about a situation if a different person were involved (e.g, someone of a different gender identity, someone with disabilities)?

Actively reflect on your thoughts and actions, and challenge your own unconscious biases.

Ask about inclusion and identify barriers

We may experience inclusion in some areas of our life but exclusion in others. These diverse experiences may be a consequence of systemic barriers or inequities. By asking ourselves these three simple questions at any given moment, we can thread equity and inclusion in all the work we do.

  • Who is not included?
  • What could contribute to this exclusion?
  • What can be done differently to ensure inclusion?

Barriers are anything that keep someone from fully participating in society, including the workplace. Visible barriers can be easy to identify, such as sidewalks without curb cuts. Invisible barriers can be harder to detect. They can exist as individual or organizational policies and practices that may seem neutral in intent, but result in unfairness, discrimination, or exclusion.

As a union, AMAPCEO fights to dismantle invisible barriers in the workplace. For example, the union has won clear rules around job postings and qualifications designed to help eliminate potential oppressive practices by the Employer.

Yet, invisible barriers in the workplace persist. Some examples include:

  • setting work expectations or planning events that limit the participation of employees with personal commitments, such as family care or religious observations; and
  • informal social networks that exclude people considered 'different' (e.g., because they are not demographically or culturally similar, share the same work or hobbies).

Another way to learn how to recognise barriers to inclusion is to practise and strengthen your allyship.

How to practise allyship

Practising allyship begins with listening to the experiences and feelings of under-represented, equity-seeking people with empathy, and taking steps to educate yourself about the history and issues that marginalized communities face.

You can practise allyship by:

  • developing a deeper personal understanding of equity, challenging your own assumptions, and recognising that this work is never finished (AMAPCEO's online course Equity and Inclusion: Activate Your Power!, which is available to all signed members for free, is a good place to start);
  • personally committing to encouraging equity in your workplace, home, and community;
  • listening to and supporting other individuals, groups, or causes; and
  • using your own power or privilege to support another who lacks this power or privilege, without presuming to know what is best for the other person, or speaking for them.

Applying the AMAPCEO Equity Lens

The Lens is a tool that consists of three checklists and additional resources in Appendix D.

1. Read through the questions in each of the three checklists (Planning, Execution, and Evaluation) to consider which ones can inform your work.

2. Apply the Lens to the project, service, program, or initiative for each of the following phases:

3. Consult with allies, as required, to learn from the experiences of others.

4. Consider what our union is already doing and what can be done differently to ensure inclusion. Record the ideas to inform any future work.

5. Periodically evaluate and tell us how the tool is working.

Planning checklist

Planning allows us to become champions for equity and inclusion and eliminates barriers so that everyone can benefit and participate.

1. Does the planning process promote equity and inclusion? What steps or actions could be taken to ensure equity and inclusion is promoted?

2. Do you have the necessary background information to address equity and inclusion in planning?

3. Do the strategic objectives for the project, service, program, or initiative reflect a broad vision of equity and inclusion?

4. Are there additional objectives for the project, service, program, or initiative that should be considered to promote and support equity and inclusion?

5. Are tasks designed to ensure that everyone can participate and complete the tasks?

6. Are there aspects of the planning timeline that may establish or perpetuate barriers to equity and inclusion?

7. Is equity and inclusion incorporated into the criteria for what should be prioritized?

8. Do the performance measures/evaluations capture the impact on equity and inclusion, including whether equity and inclusion are increasing or decreasing?

9. Does the communication strategy foster equity and inclusion? What are the specific communication strategies needed to reach everyone?

10. Are additional internal and financial resources required to achieve equity and inclusion in this plan? 

Execution checklist

When we include equity and inclusion in the execution of our work, we act to ensure that everyone is included and benefits from our work.

1. Is the work undertaken following established equity policies and principles? What additional steps should be taken to ensure they are being followed?

2. Are there members, activists or staff at risk of being excluded?

3. Is information gathered to enable us to measure benchmarks or targets for increasing equity and inclusion?

4. What information or data is needed to assess the ongoing impact or implications for equity and inclusion? How could this information be gathered?

5. Is the impact or implications for equity and inclusion being consistently re-assessed?

6. Are additional resources required to ensure equity and inclusion objectives are being achieved? If so, what are they?

7. How is key information being communicated to all involved? Is plain language used so it is understood by diverse audiences?

8. What additional steps are required to ensure full participation and/ or to eliminate exclusion?

9. Is the final project, service, program, or initiative equitable and accessible?

Evaluation checklist

When we consider equity and inclusion in how we measure success, we act to continuously improve and ensure that all benefit from our processes and outcomes. Each project, service, program, or initiative will require a different level of measurement and evaluation.

1. What is the evaluation process? Is equity and inclusion incorporated into the evaluation process? If the process establishes or perpetuates barriers, what changes could be made to the evaluation process to remediate this?

2. Are all participants/stakeholder included in the evaluation process? Is anyone at risk of exclusion? Will their perspectives be included?

3. When the evaluation data is analyzed, what steps will be taken to minimize any biases? How will a diversity of perspectives be maintained when analyzing data?

4. Does the final evaluation report include specific equity and inclusion issues identified in the planning stage?

5. How will the evaluation findings be reported back to leaders, participants, members, and activists?

6. Did the project, task or initiative achieve equity and inclusion-related objectives? Why or why not?

7. If equity and inclusion-related objectives were not achieved, what actions could have been taken to address barriers to equity and inclusion?

8. What opportunities are there to enhance the achievement of equity and inclusion in the project, task, or initiative?

Applying the Equity Lens as an AMAPCEO activist

AMAPCEO activists have a role to play challenging inequity within our workplaces and within our union.

1. Recognize if there is a barrier or inequity. Are there certain groups of people facing exclusion? Is one group more advantaged than another?

2. Assess the situation. What was the purpose of the activity and how was it arranged and communicated?

3. Check your reaction. Internally, do you feel that something is not quite right? Externally, how are you reacting? Are you going to say something about it?

4. Enable those experiencing inequity, using your power or privilege if necessary. Can you speak with the person or group that you feel is being excluded and ask them how you can be supportive?

5. Influence others to act. It is OK to respectfully raise a concern with others involved and/or to ask others to help or be supportive.

If you are experiencing inequity yourself, consider seeking the assistance of an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative, your District Director, or our union's Chief Operating Officer.

Additional checklists for AMAPCEO Workplace Representatives and Health & Safety Representatives

In addition to the checklists above, we have compiled three additional checklists that may help Workplace Representatives and Health & Safety Representatives in their roles.

Some questions may be more relevant than others. The key is to think about them before you act.

Communications checklist

The success of workplace activists depends on good communications. When we apply equity and inclusion to communications with employer representatives, other members and AMAPCEO staff, we take action to ensure that everyone is heard and informed.

Consider the following questions as you communicate verbally and in writing to others:

1. Have you considered all possible target audiences? Who might be at risk of exclusion?

2. How do the messages you are communicating foster inclusion, respect, and equity?

3. Are there concepts or terms that may be culturally specific and need to be changed to make them more accessible?

4. Is the medium easily accessible and understood by the full diversity of your target audience? (e.g., plain language, accessible formats, graphics, both online and print)

5. Have you considered what populations will be missed by using certain communication methods? (e.g., email, phone, videoconferencing, slack, etc.) What other approaches could be used?

6. Is the language plain and easily understood by diverse audiences?

Working with People checklist

A major role of workplace activists is to build positive and productive relationships with employer representatives as well as with other union members.

Consider the following questions as you work with others:

1. When you interact with people, do you check your own assumptions?

  • Do you hold assumptions about people that get in the way of how you work with them?
  • Do you avoid stereotypes so you can see the individual for who they really are?
  • Are you able to respect peoples' differences and yet recognize what we have in common?
  • Do you recognize each person’s contributions?

2. Are you paying attention to those who are not expressing their ideas?

3. How do you encourage feedback and full participation?

4. Do you consider potential barriers in each situation, and work to minimize them? (e.g., language, prejudice, discrimination)

5. If you are not sure what barriers may exist, do you ask your colleagues or the people you serve?

6. Do you discourage jokes, insults and negative comments that are offensive to people?

7. Do you recognize and build on the strengths and assets of all individuals?

Gathering Information checklist

Workplace activists who investigate issues are often required to conduct research to provide good advice or recommendations.

To achieve an equitable and inclusive outcome, consider the following questions when planning your research and while gathering information:

1. Are you leaving out certain kinds of data (on certain groups or topics) that limits the information you are collecting, or which skews the results in favour of some groups and not others?

2. If you are asking questions to specific people, are you leaving anyone out who should be included?

3. Are you asking research questions which may be limiting the answers or participation of some people?  Are the questions neutral and without bias?  Are there unintended or implicit assumptions behind your questions, and will these assumptions influence what information you are collecting?

4. Are your questions prepared using clear and plain language so that each participant can answer based on the same level of understanding?

5. When analyzing the information collected, did you make assumptions that can skew the results in favour of one outcome or group?

6. When analyzing the information and developing conclusions, did you apply a diversity of perspectives in the findings?  Did you seek perspectives from others while drafting your findings?

Health and safety considerations through an Equity Lens

The following points identify some equity challenges and opportunities to be more inclusive:

Safety Equipment and Measures

  • The general approach to safety equipment and measures has been “one-size-fits-all”, which does not consider the unique needs of different individuals.
  • Most wearable safety equipment is typically designed for the average able-bodied male:
    • May not fit the average woman or persons with physical differences
    • May not accommodate physical disabilities
    • May not accommodate cultural or religious clothing
  • Safety measures may have negative impacts on employees with disabilities:
    • Signs (e.g., wear a mask, enter this door, go this direction, etc.) and safety instructions/directions may not be accessible
    • Safety barriers may not accommodate physical disabilities, or may create additional barriers
    • COVID-19 PPE specific concerns:
    • Hand sanitizer stations may be difficult to access for employees with physical disabilities (e.g., limited mobility)
    • Hand sanitizer and cleaning products may exacerbate asthma, allergies, and other medical conditions.
    • Employees with agoraphobia or anxiety may find it very difficult to wear face masks.
    • One-way walking routes (e.g., hallways) and distanced workspaces may be challenging for employees with physical disabilities (e.g., limited mobility) by increasing the distance that they are required to travel in the workspace.

Equity Questions:

  • Who is this equipment designed for? Who is excluded and included in this design?
  • Are there effective alternatives that would ensure everyone is included?
  • What are the unintended consequences of the strategy? How do different equity-deserving groups experience these consequences? Can these consequences be mitigated?
  • Who is included in planning these strategies? Have employees from equity-seeking groups been consulted? Why or why not?

Health and Safety Complaint Process

  • The person who makes a health and safety complaint can affect how health and safety representatives and employer representatives perceive and address the complaint:
    • Unconscious bias, stereotypes and discriminatory beliefs may result in some complaints being ignored, dismissed or minimized.
    • For example:
      • In some male-dominated workplaces, health and safety complaints by women and gender-diverse employees may be dismissed as “hysterical” or because the employee doesn’t know what they are taking about.
      • Complaints by racialized employees (in particular Black employees) may be dismissed as coming from an “angry racialized person.”
      • Complaints by persons with disabilities may be dismissed or minimized because they “only affect one person” (the person with a disability) or because the person with a disability is perceived as wanting special treatment.
  • The health and safety complaint process may include invisible barriers that make it difficult for members of equity-seeking groups to make a complaint.
  • For example:
    • Materials explaining the complaint process may not be accessible for persons with disabilities or persons for whom English is not their first language (the language used may be too technical or higher than a grade six reading level)
    • Cultural values and practices may result in some members feeling uncomfortable with making a direct complaint to a supervisor or manager
  • The complaint process is set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, however, there may still be additional supports that the employer or health and safety reps can put in place to reduce barriers to complaints.

Equity Questions:

  • How would I perceive this complaint if it came from a person in a different social location/from a different equity-deserving group?
  • Are there any unconscious biases or stereotypes that are affecting how I am considering or approaching a complaint?
  • Who is included and excluded in the health and safety complaint process? Are there any actions that could be taken to address these barriers?

Appendix A: Useful Terms

A person who supports an individual or group to be treated equitably and fairly. This often grows out of the self-awareness of inequities or privileges we have experienced. Action is taken individually or collectively to create conditions that enable everyone to have equal access to resources and benefits.

Something we presuppose or take for granted without questioning it. We accept these beliefs to be true and use them to interpret the world around us.

A tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, for or against something that is preconceived or without justification. Biases can be innate or learned.

A person who assumes leadership by working with others to create and influence change in the organization or the wider community.

The presence of a wide range of qualities and attributes within a person, group or community. When we celebrate diversity, communities and workplaces become richer as they draw upon the variety of experiences, perspectives and skills that people can contribute.

Equity is treating everyone fairly by acknowledging their unique situation and addressing system barriers. The aim of equity is to ensure that everyone has access to equal results and benefits.

Equity Lens
A set of guiding questions to be considered when planning, developing, implementing or evaluating our union’s services, programs, or initiatives. The questions will help all of us diagnose barriers and identify, measure, and evaluate best practices regarding access, equity and inclusion. The aim is to ensure AMAPCEO continues to build equity within our union and ensure the equitable delivery of services to our union’s diverse membership.

Acknowledging and valuing people’s differences to enrich social planning, decision making and quality of life for everyone. In an inclusive union, we all have a sense of belonging, acceptance and recognition as valued and contributing members.

Each of us has multiple factors at play in our lives. Who we are, or how we identify, is largely a result of a variety of life experiences, social factors, and interactions with different societal groups. We may experience exclusion in some areas of our life, but inclusion in other. It is this intersection, or crossover of our identities, that affects how we experience system barriers and inequities.

The experience of freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded to members of a dominant group in a society or in a given context.

Making assumptions about an entire group of people. We generalize all people in a group to be the same, without considering individual differences. We often base our stereotypes on misconceptions or incomplete information.

Appendix B: AMAPCEO Equity Statement

Equity Statement

Appendix C: Acknowledgements

This toolkit is based on the Equity and Inclusion Lens that was the product of a collaborative partnership between the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) and the City of Ottawa. Many thanks to the City of Ottawa for encouraging other organizations to reproduce or adapt any part of their Equity and Inclusion Lens for the purpose of furthering equity and inclusion.

We thank the leadership of AMAPCEO’s 2016-17 Equity Committee that recommended the establishment of a committee Equity Lens Working group, as well as for their contributions to the project. Thanks as well to the subsequent Equity Committee members for finalizing the initial version of this Lens. We sincerely thank the Equity Lens Working Group for its research work and on adapting City of Ottawa’s Equity and Inclusion Lens for AMAPCEO’s use. 


Equity Committee’s Equity Lens Working Group:

  • Alison Griggs, Chair of Working Group, Disability Caucus Co-Chair
  • Ravi Harricharan, Board appointee to the Equity Committee
  • Frankie Little, Women’s Caucus Co-Chair
  • Ginelle Augustin-Lesmond, Young Workers’ Caucus member
  • Vincent Lavigne, Francophone Caucus Co-Chair
  • Anthony Pizzino, Staff Support

Equity Committee Members (2018–March 2020):

  • Cynthia Watt, Chair
  • Kerry-Ann Douglas-Powell, Board Liaison, October 2018–June 2019
  • Frank Tang, Board Liaison, June 2019–2020
  • Caucus Chairs:
    • Asian, Arab & Latino Caucus: Allen Hou
    • Black Caucus: Elaine Brown-Spencer
    • Disability Caucus: Lee Heard
    • Francophone Caucus: Vincent Lavigne
    • Indigenous Circle: Theresa Anderson-Butcher
    • LGBTQ+ Caucus: Rachel Walisser
    • Women’s Caucus: Sara Lacarte
    • Young Workers’ Caucus**: Sarah Hoy and Caroline Cotter
  • Staff Advisors:
    • Jennifer Sherwood
    • Elissa Assayag* (Elissa supported the committee up to October 2019)
    • Samara Carroll (Samara started supporting the committee in February 2020)

Equity Committee Members (2017–2018):

  • Peter Dewar, Chair, April 2017–March 2018
  • Cynthia Watt, Chair, March 2018–October 2018
  • Lancy Cheng, Board Liaison, April 2017–March 2018
  • Kerry-Ann Douglas-Powell, Board Liaison, March 2018–October 2018
  • Board-appointed Committee members:
    • Samantha Boland
    • Steven Drawbell
    • Ravi Harricharan
    • Mark Haslam
    • Karen-Lee Miller
  • Caucus Co-Chairs:
    • Asian, Arab, Latino Caucus: Amy Wang
    • Black Caucus: Jackie Annon
    • Disability Caucus: Alison Griggs
    • Francophone: Vincent Lavigne
    • Indigenous Circle: Carol Knight
    • LGBTQ Caucus: Marcilyn Cianfarani
    • Women’s Caucus: Frankie Little
    • Young Workers’ Caucus**: Sarah Hoy
  • Staff Advisors:
    • Michael Mouritsen
    • Elissa Assayag*

Equity Committee Members (2016–2017):

  • Ravi Harricharan, Chair
  • Steven Drawbell, Vice-Chair
  • Glynn Robinson, Board Liaison
  • Board-appointed Committee members:
    • Nupur Deonarine
    • Mark Haslam
  • Caucus Co-Chairs:
    • Asian, Arab, Latino Caucus: Frank Tang
    • Black Caucus: Courtenay Gordon
    • Disability Caucus: Alison Griggs
    • Francophone: Vincent Lavigne
    • Indigenous Circle: David Picard
    • LGBTQ Caucus: Marcilyn Cianfarani
    • Women’s Caucus: Frankie Little
    • Young Workers’ Caucus**: Sarah Hoy
  • Staff Advisor: • Inessa Petersen

*We miss our friend and colleague who passed away in May 2020. Elissa’s humour, kindness, and dedication is remembered and cherished.

**The Young Workers’ Caucus was established as stand-alone committee in October 2018 and was included in the discussions and consultation on the final document content.

Appendix D: Additional Resources