10 Actions You Can Take

Alignment with the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) ​

It is important to note that terminology is ever evolving and may not be reflected in external links and resources throughout the What Works Toolkit. The terms used within the toolkit align with the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) document developed by the Diversity Institute, and sponsored by the Standards Council of Canada in support of the Government of Canada’s 50 – 30 Challenge. Section 3.1 in the PAS defines Equity-Deserving Groups as follows:

3.1 Equity-Deserving Groups

The Challenge’s equity-deserving groups include those identifying as: Racialized, Black, and/or People of Colour (“Visible Minorities”), People with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), 2SLGBTQ+ and/or gender and sexually diverse individuals, and “Aboriginal” and/or Indigenous Peoples. The program and participants recognize First Nation Peoples, Métis Nation, and Inuit as founding Peoples of Canada and under-represented in positions of economic influence and leadership.

Please refer to the PAS for additional information on the 50 – 30 Challenge as well as tools and resources for your organization.

Purpose of this Tool

As an individual, you can make a difference in building a workplace where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. This tool provides you with 10 actions you can take to do exactly that and work towards the 50 – 30 Challenge.

The first section is focused on learning and reflection: begin to understand the challenges faced by different identity groups. Reflect on your position to make a positive impact on others as well as the organization as a whole.

The second section is about starting the conversation, participating, and listening: focus on how you’re communicating and listening to colleagues, and if you are creating an open space for discussion.

The final section is about making a difference: take action on ways you and your organization can make sure that everyone feels safe, welcome, and respected.

Section 1: Learn and Reflect

1. Watch a video on understanding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and inclusive language.

2. Self-learning: Begin to understand the challenges faced by different identity groups by starting with these resources. Choose 3 links to start, then move to the next Action. When you’ve completed all 10 actions, come back to learn more!

Section 2: Start the Conversation, Participate and Listen to Others

3. Reflect on your own identity and unique perspective, and how that influences your experiences. Think about how that is the case for each person, making each of our perspectives and experiences different.

4. Participate in discussions and workshops about how to make your workplace a space where everyone feels welcome, safe and respected.

  • Create a space for employees to openly share their experiences so that they can build trust with one another
  • Dedicate time within an employee’s working day to participate in activities and workshops

5. Take the time to discuss with your colleagues how to further build a space where everyone feels welcome, safe and respected at work.

  • Grow your network! Reach out to colleagues who you may not normally connect with

6. When communicating, focus on the words you use so people do feel welcome, respected and invited to contribute. Think about how you can:

  • Avoid distractions, focus on the person speaking, and bring your whole self to the conversation
  • Respect the language people use to describe themselves and follow suit
  • Use the active voice so your sentences are focused and convey presence and engagement with the other person
  • Should someone correct you, acknowledge them with thanks
  • If you observe a mistake, offer a quick correction

Section 3: Make a Difference Through Actions

7. Start a conversation with one of your colleagues about what you’ve learned from others and how you’re bringing inclusion into your everyday practice.

  • Try to reach out to someone who hasn’t yet participated in these conversations

8. Find out if your organization has created networks or safe spaces for discussion (for example, employee resource groups) on how to make sure everyone feels welcome and respected.

  • If it has, become a member! Also, ask if those discussions inform how your organization improves the way it makes sure people feel welcome and respected

  • If it hasn’t, suggest to your organization that it could be important to have those opportunities for discussion and learning how to make the workplace better for everyone

9. Pay attention – do you feel that everyone is being held to the same standards at work and being treated fairly?

  • If the answer is “no”, are you pointing it out and speaking up to make sure people are held to the same standards?

  • If the answer is “yes”, are you participating in building that safe workplace?

10. Share this document with your colleagues to continue the conversation!

Larger organizations are more likely to have formal Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), whereas small/medium organizations may not have formal ERGs but have networks of individuals with shared identities/interests.



Microaggression is defined as: “A comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group” – Source: Merriam Webster



Unlearning is defined as: “To make an effort to forget your usual way of doing something so that you can learn a new and sometimes better way” – Source: Cambridge Dictionary



Intersectionality is defined as: A framework for understanding how different aspects of a person’s social and political identities (e.g., gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, physical appearance, etc.) combine to create unique modes of discrimination and privilege. Intersectionality identifies advantages and disadvantages that are felt by people due to this combination of factors – Source: Kimberlé Crenshaw, TIME



Privilege is defined as: “The unfair and unearned advantages individuals are granted for having, or being perceived to have, social identities that align with those deemed to be superior according to societal rules and norms. It is often experienced as an absence of barriers related to a particular social identity (e.g., White privilege, straight privilege)” – Source: Egale


Safe Space

Safe Space is defined as: “A place intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations” – Source: Merriam-Webster

Safe spaces allow individuals to feel comfortable having brave and honest conversations.


Emotional Tax

Emotional Tax is defined as: “The combination of feeling different from peers at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, being on guard against experiences of bias, and experiencing the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work” – Source: Catalyst



Tokenism is defined as: “Performative policies that ostensibly promote diversity or equality (placing women or diverse groups in leadership positions), but do not truly have a positive impact on the workplace. Tokenism isn’t progressive, and it especially causes harm to tokenized individuals, causing extra pressure to succeed due to being perceived as representative of a group and often leaving them in an alienating work environment” – Source: Catalyst


Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety is defined as: “An environment that encourages, recognizes and rewards individuals for their contributions and ideas by making individuals feel safe when taking interpersonal risks. A lack of psychological safety at work can inhibit team learning and lead to in-groups, groupthink and blind spots” – Source: Gartner