As we say hello to Fall, we say goodbye to BC Disability Employment Month which we celebrate every September. We now welcome one of our favourite months here at CVS- October – where we celebrate Community Inclusion Month. This is a month to celebrate people with diverse abilities and harness their special gifts. One of the most powerful ways a person with developmental disabilities can integrate into their communities is by being part of the workforce. Inclusive employment is an important topic for all of us in the community as hiring inclusively offers benefits for people with developmental disabilities, employers and the community.
While employing people with disabilities can often be seen as an opportunity for a company to contribute to a social cause, there is actually an even bigger benefit for employers to hire inclusively than there is to the person being employed. Hiring people with diverse abilities can help organizations resolve staffing issues, bring on new people with creative ideas and create greater bonds within the organization and the community at large.
The Advantage of Building an Inclusive Workforce
The difference between success and failure lies in the talent and diverse skill set of your workforce. Across Canada, there are close to 500,000 working-aged adults with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This largely untapped workforce can help address current labour shortages while making businesses stronger, more diverse and more productive. There is rapidly increasing pressure on businesses both large and small to be on the cutting edge of innovative practices, processes, and products. A business that can build and retain a diverse team where employees are engaged and invested, and where their skills and interests align with their roles, is much more likely to be successful.
Across the country, many jobs go unfilled because individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability are not considered as potential candidates. Their strengths and talents are often overlooked due to outdated and false perceptions that focus on the ‘disability’ rather than the ‘ability’. Common concerns for Canadian businesses in considering hiring an individual with a disability include:
- Productivity and performance
- Impact on corporate culture
- Impact on consumers
- Cost of accommodations
These preconceived concerns about hiring employees with an intellectual or developmental disability averaged 42% higher than the challenges actually experienced in hiring them according to research from the Institute for Corporate Productivity.
Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) is a national initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations. Funded by the Government of Canada and active in each province and territory across the country, RWA supports Canadian businesses to build an inclusive workplace that capitalizes on the skills and qualifications of people with an intellectual disability or ASD. Through this program, some interesting finds about the misconceptions listed above were uncovered –
Right now there is a labour shortage occurring across Canada. Employers are finding it tough to find people to fulfil roles. Hiring inclusively helps to provide a solution to this issue and may be the key to thinking differently about how to structure jobs in a way that takes best advantage of people’s diverse abilities. As we celebrate Community Inclusion Month, it’s important that we all open up our minds and celebrate our uniqueness.
And…stay tuned for our 2nd part of our 4-part series next week – Inclusive Housing.