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3. Advertising

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Under section 23(1) of the Code, the right to equal treatment in employment is infringed when a job posting or advertisement directly or indirectly classifies or indicates qualifications by a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Section 23(2) of the Code sets out what questions employers can ask on application forms or other inquiries relating to prohibited grounds of discrimination. This is discussed in the section below – “Designing application forms” and Section IV-5 – “Interviewing and making hiring decisions.”

a) Make sure that job ads and postings comply with the Code

Job ads and postings should not contain statements, qualifications or references that relate either directly or indirectly to race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, record of offences, age, marital status, family status or disability.

Some ads may not mention a ground of the Code directly, but may unfairly prevent or discourage people from applying for a job. As was noted above in relation to job descriptions, advertisements for jobs should not include neutral requirements that may be discriminatory barriers and result in human rights complaints. For example, it may be a bona fide requirement that a receptionist speak clear, intelligible English, but it is not acceptable to require “unaccented English.” If it is essential and bona that the person must drive for the job, the ad may state that a valid driver’s licence (with the required class) is required. See also Section IV-2d) – “Potentially Discriminatory Requirements” for more examples of what to avoid in ads.

The following checklist provides general guidelines to follow when preparing a job ad.

Job ad checklist:

  • Is non-discriminatory wording used to describe the job?
  • Are the essential duties of the job clearly explained?
  • Has neutral language such as "sales clerk" rather than "salesman" been used wherever possible?
  • Is there a statement that the employer is an equal opportunity employer and that accommodation will be provided during the hiring process?

b) Advertise widely using diverse means

Employers should avoid using word-of mouth referrals, personal networks, such as the recruiter’s hockey team, or social relationships. These kinds of informal processes tend to exclude people who do not share the same characteristics and background as the recruiter, and may create discriminatory barriers to employment.

Also, advertising only on the Internet or on mainstream media may adversely exclude some groups under the Code. On the other hand, online ads can be an effective way to make sure that persons with print disabilities have access to the information.

The best practice is to widely circulate formal job postings, which clearly describe the position and qualifications (see Section IV-2 – “Setting job requirements” for more information about job descriptions). For example, employers can place ads in newspapers, on websites and through employment agencies so postings are readily available to persons identified by Code grounds.

Some employers who are actively seeking to increase their diversity advertise in ethno/racial or community newspapers. Others do outreach and go to places with a high representation of racialized persons or persons with disabilities.

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