Decent work indicators and promising practices

The Ontario Nonprofit Networkopens in new tab (ONN) has identified seven decent work indicators that align well with nonprofits and promising practices to implement them. Many of the indicators and their examples overlap, for instance employment opportunities are connected to fair wages and stable jobs.

Employment opportunities

  • Everyone has access to high quality jobs
  • Recognize the impact of being a woman-majority sector on quality of jobs in the sector when recruiting and retaining employees

Fair wages

  • Living wages
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Pay equity (equal pay for work of equal value)
  • Pay Transparency
  • Contained ratios between the highest and lowest earners in organizations
  • Paid sick days

Health and retirement benefits

  • Health, dental and vision benefits
  • Pension plan or other retirement benefits
  • Parental leave benefit top-ups
  • Benefits extend to all workers, regardless of employment status

Stable employment

  • Predictable hours of work and scheduling
  • Employment protections
  • Limited use of short-term contracts and primarily for short-term projects and initiatives

Opportunities for development and advancement

  • Learning organizations with a culture of growth
  • Focus on development of employees
  • Formal and informal training, learning and advancement opportunities made available to employees

Equality rights at work

  • Right to organize and speak up about workplace concerns
  • Safe and accessible reporting and dispute resolution mechanisms for harassment and discrimination that are consistently implemented
  • Codes of conduct, especially for sexual harassment
  • Policies on diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-oppression, and anti-Black racism
  • Accessible accommodations

Culture and leadership

  • Gender parity and diversity in staff and leadership composition
  • People-focused leadership norms
  • Management styles that trust and support diverse employees
  • An open, learning and flexible work culture
  • Inclusive, creative, collaborative and safe workplace culture
  • Governance models that align and further organizational mission
  • Challenging gender roles in organizations

Start here: The decent work roadmap

At the outset, the concept of decent work might feel idealistic or sound like a cookie-cutter approach for a diverse sector and labour force, but it’s not. There are many ways nonprofits can begin implementing and championing decent work in their organizations, big or small, community-facing or not. It’s all about creating the best decent work environment for your employees, which can differ from organization to organization.

Begin by reviewing the Decent Work Charteropens in new tab and Decent Work Checklist (PDF, 291KB). Ask yourself: what are you doing well? What can you improve? Take the opportunity to communicate with board members and staff about what it means to have decent work in your workplace. Form a committee, create a plan with actions and timelines, and start with decent work opportunities that are easier to achieveopens in new tab. Check out these case studies of nonprofits implementing decent workopens in new tab or the Digging in with ONN podcastopens in new tab for inspiration.

Remember that not every promising practice is going to add to the organization’s budget, some decent work practices might be more affordable than you think and may even bring the organization cost savings. More importantly, this is not a linear journey and it may take time and planning to implement decent work actions to get them right over time and as the organization changes.

For more information please visit ONN's Decent Workopens in new tab.

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