Decent work systems - Ontario Nonprofit Network


Decent work

ONN’s goal is to build a strong and resilient nonprofit workforce of tomorrow where workers, employers, and communities are supported equally.

Decent work systems

Nonprofits have an important role to play in advancing decent work

Developed by the International Labour Organization, decent work describes people’s aspirations for work: productive, fair wages, safe and secure, dignified, equitable opportunity and advancement, and freedom to express concerns and organize, to name a few. 

Decent work is central to creating the economic and social opportunities that underpin individual and community well-being. 

Decent work systems are important for nonprofits because our labour force is critical for serving communities, from senior leaders and frontline workers to operational and program roles. If nonprofit employers can offer decent work, they can hire and retain skilled people, and be better positioned to fulfill their community-based missions. 

Given the diversity of Ontario’s nonprofit sector workforce – 77 per cent of our sector’s workforce identify as women, half are racialized, and nearly a third are immigrants – and that the world of work is shaped by intersecting systems of oppression dictating who should do what type of work and for how much, decent work systems must be attune to what particularly is needed for workers from equity-deserving communities to thrive at work.

Public policy that enables strong protections for workers, and for the labour force to adapt to the future of work will strengthen the nonprofit labour force, bolsters decent work for all, and translates into better care for our communities.

Key areas of focus for advancing decent work 

For ONN, decent work as a framework, policy priority and practice has striven to enhance the working conditions of workers from all levels across the nonprofit sector. We envision the nonprofit sector in Ontario to be a champion for decent work, setting a high standard for inclusive and racially equitable workplaces, decent jobs, and fulfilling career paths. 

Our vision has been to build a strong and resilient nonprofit workforce of tomorrow where workers, employers, and communities are supported equally.

We advocate for:

Employment standards, labour legislation, and related policies that bolster decent work such as, wage parity, universal access to child care, permanent paid sick days, minimum wage that reflects a livable wage, equal pay for equal work, regulation of gig and platform work, pay equity funding, and pay transparency.

Labour force initiatives to adapt to the future of work such as a sector-wide, province wide labour force strategy and workforce development plan, low-cost and/or free educational and training programs for nonprofit workers, targeted training and skills development initiatives.

Ways nonprofits can take action to advance decent work

  • Connect with us if you are working on a decent work policy issue or if one in this focus area bubbles up for you and your networks. Put it in on our radar to engage in potential collective advocacy efforts.
  • Explore eight pathways, and numerous resources to help your organization advance decent work and equity for Black, Indigenous, and/or racialized people in our sector.
  • Check out this microsite to learn how to support decent work for women.
  • Read our decent work case studies to help start your journey.
  • Make a commitment to actioning decent work by signing this charter.

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