Diversifying Your Workforce: Hiring Individuals with a Disability

Oct 12, 2021 | Business News and Tips, Chamber News, Front Page

Did you know that there are more than 200,000 Manitobans living with some type of disability, and that more than 35,000 of them between the ages of 15 and 64 are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up their search for meaningful work? As we move through Disability Employment Awareness Month, we’re encouraging employers to think about how they can make their business practices more inclusive and accessible for Canadians with all abilities.

There are so many important facts, themes, links to studies, and articles you may want to explore in honour of this month’s observance. Facts like these: Inclusive hiring is good for business. Disabilities don’t define talent. In fact, organizations with inclusive cultures are:

  • twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets

  • three times as likely to be high-performing

  • six times more likely to be innovative and agile

  • eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes

Source: Government of Canada

  • A disability can be permanent/chronic or temporary; presented at birth or sudden, such as those caused by trauma, an accident, illness or injury. A disability will occur to one in 5 people in their lifetime, and it could happen to anyone at any time.
  • “The conventional view is that a disability is a limitation that is continuous and remains, more or less, permanent and unchanged over time. However, many disabilities may not follow this relatively stable pattern. Persons with disabilities may experience periods of good health in between periods of their limitations (on-again/off-again episodes) and/or experience changes in the severity of their limitations over time (worsening, improving, or fluctuating).” Read more about disability types and how they correlate to employment rates in this study, The Dynamics of Disability: Progressive, Recurrent or Fluctuating Limitations.
  • A disability can be physical and obvious to others, or invisible (which is actually more common), such as those related to pain, flexibility, mental health, or mobility. More than 2 million Canadians ages 15 and up live with a mental health disability defined as experiencing limitations in their daily life due to an emotional, psychological, or mental health condition. While 655,000 of those 2 million Canadians say they’re employed, more than 52% of respondents consider themselves disadvantaged in employment because of their condition. Click here to view an infographic on mental health disabilities.
  • Recent studies conducted by Pizza Hut/Taco Bell, as well as by DuPont, demonstrated that people with disabilities rated average or better than their non-disabled colleagues on job performance, attendance, and work safety.
  • In 2013, the Government Canada initiated a panel study, Rethinking disAbility in the Private Sector, consulting with more than 200 private sector employers about their experiences employing individuals with a disability. The panel reported the following barriers, challenges and discoveries:
    • A lack of a diversity champion for people with disabilities, saying that it would be very helpful to have someone who can raise the profile and break down barriers, creating paths to employment.
    • All surveyed companies had policies and practices for accommodating existing employees who acquired disabilities. However, most had not utilized this expertise to actively connect with potential new hires.
    • Not having inclusive recruiting processes prevents employers from reaching qualified people with disabilities in the first place, for example, websites with small print and other inaccessible design features, selection software that screens for experience and other requirements that many people with disabilities may not have been able to access.
    • In some cases, there was uncertainty about how far to go in terms of workplace accommodation. According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities, 772,000 employees with disabilities aged 25 to 64 years required at least one Workplace Accommodation (WPA) to be able to work. The most frequently required WPA was flexible work schedules in the form of modified hours or days or reduced work hours (19%), and it was made available or the need was met for 74% of employees who required it. The number 2 and 3 most frequently requested WPA were modified duties, and specialized chair/back support. Click here to view the report.
  • Enacted on May 1, 2019, Manitoba’s Accessibility Standard for Employment is the second standard under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. Its aim is to remove and prevent barriers that affect current and potential members of Manitoba’s labour force. Click here to view an overview of your responsibilities as an employer, including additional compliance required by May 1, 2022.
  • Return on Disability is a Toronto-based company led by CEO Rich Donovan, a former Wall Street trader with cerebral palsy, whose mission is to unlock the massive untapped potential of 24.5% of the population – the percentage of Canadians living with some type of disability. Donovan asserts that there are actually 6 million Canadians who identify as having some type of disability, and that this is the largest emerging market, controlling more than $55 billion in disposable income in Canada alone.
  • On June 1, 2021, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities co-hosted and participated in a roundtable discussion on “The Role of Innovative Technologies in Recruiting and Increasing Retention of Employees with Disabilities” with Facebook and Inclusion Canada. The event featured a keynote address by the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, and considered how technology can be used to help recruit, retain, and provide career advancement for people with disabilities, and to promote remote work. Read the take-aways from the roundtable…

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