It’s a plain fact; these are strange and unpredictable times and we are all feeling the impacts. For a great many of us, the workplace as we know it is on an indeterminate ‘hiatus’ and we are working in a state of dynamic adaptation. By this I mean that we, the collective we, are floundering and fumbling through this new situation as well as we can until we develop enough knowledge and comfort to feel capable and on track again. It’s important to recognize that working through a pandemic occurring in the ‘information age’ means we’re also working in a persistent state of threat.
The disability service sector is providing supports to millions of people with intellectual disabilities. Most of the people being supported are especially vulnerable in times of crisis – a fact which is clearly outlined in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Article 11 – Situations of Risk and Humanitarian Emergencies.
For the past several years, publicly funded employment inclusion service providers across Canada have showed a growing interest in Disability Employment Awareness Month. The progression has been obvious and encouraging. Initially promotional initiatives were sporadic and driven by service provider organizations.
Many of us in the disability services sector have heard this question – and many of us have had an immediate emotional response, struggled with our words and in the end, failed to capitalize on a great opportunity. The fact is, employment inclusion professionals should be able to respond with ease to inquiries and challenges. The case for inclusion speaks for itself; it's not about 'doing the right thing' - it's about doing the smart thing and leveraging the benefits of diversity.
10 Responses to “Why Would I Hire Someone with a Disability?”
In 2012, the government of Canada collaborated with Canadian business to explore the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities. The resulting document, ‘Re-thinking Disabilities in the Private Sector’, outlined a number of barriers and strategies around ‘community partnerships’ between business and employment service providers. The issues of supply and demand, accessible talent pools and the desire for a ‘one stop shop’ experience were all identified.
The field of Disability Services is built on the foundational concepts of Community Inclusion and Personal Capacity; these are our most reliable weapons against segregation and marginalization. As professional advocates, we typically profess to be working towards things like integration, poverty reduction, equality (economic and social), and inclusion. Too often however the logistics of our systems begin to take precedence over the needs of the people we serve.
It’s ironic that my current multiple roles are all focused on finding rewarding careers for people with disabilities. Ironic because that is exactly what they have given me. On this day, I need to thank the community of people who have given me a career and who have taught me so much about inclusion, potential and relationships. They’ve also taught me a lot about segregation, marginalization, isolation – and the importance of person centered advocacy.
I’ve worked in Community Disability Services (CDS) since 1986 and have experienced work cultures that ranged from inspirational to traumatic. I’ve also seen firsthand the correlation between work culture and staff retention, engagement and innovation. It’s a pretty simple equation; some work cultures bring out our best - and some work cultures leave us disheartened and actively seeking new opportunities. What is workplace culture really worth to CDS organizations?
A brand is not a Mission Statement, a Logo, a Tag-Line or a brochure. A brand is the character and personality and reputation your organization brings to a 'customer relationship.' It's about maintaining your organization’s relevance to its ‘customers.’ Your brand is real whether you like it or not - it could be a hanging-on-by-a-thread 'Zombie Brand' or it could be a brand that accidentally prevents engagement - so have a good, hard look because your current brand may actually be working against you.