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The ins and outs of seeking an inclusive workplace environment for people with disabilities
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Getting a job if you have a disability can be easier than you might think if you know where to look.
Today, companies want to be more inclusive of the Canadian workforce and more reflective of the customers that they serve.
My experience as an employment specialist has shown me that companies often don’t know where to go to find diverse talent. Recent graduates with disabilities are often afraid to apply for their ideal positions for fear of discrimination through the recruitment process without realizing those employers may be seeking someone with precisely their profile. Below are a few tips for finding employers committed to recruiting and retaining diverse talent.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) partnerships
Identifying employers that sponsor, partner with and/or support organizations and associations committed to D&I is one way to know if an employer is inclusive. Such employers typically have a culture that is open, accommodating, and values diversity. Research which employers support these efforts.
There are numerous major Canadian D&I organizations worth checking out.
Here are some of my favourites:
- The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI): This organization provides tools and support to employers looking to become more inclusive.
- The Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN): With more than 60 employer partners, their Business Leadership Network consists of more than 30 employers who are committed to promoting the hiring of persons with disabilities.
- Canadian Business Sense-Ability: A national organization run by private-sector business leaders aiming to accelerate business success through the talents of persons with disabilities.
The Google test
When evaluating a company’s commitment to D&I, start with a simple online search, which can be surprisingly effective.
Companies aren’t shy about communicating and promoting their values: They want clients, staff, prospective employees and stakeholders to know their organizational beliefs, goals and commitments.
When attracting the best talent, they want to demonstrate why they are an employer of choice. It’s also good for business; people prefer to deal with companies with good cultures and core values.
Searching for the employer ‘name + diversity + Canada’ gives a pretty good overview of their commitment level.
Check their website to see if they have a diversity section, learn about their inclusive practices, what causes they support and their current initiatives.
Companies that support inclusive hiring will make an effort to highlight this on a diversity page.
Are they award-winning?
To be recognized with an award, companies must be doing a few things right. Numerous organizations recognize the efforts of employers who are making an impact with their diversity and inclusion practices.
The two following awards are to me the more prestigious out there. Take a look at the lists and see which employers have won awards and why.
The Canada’s Best Diversity Employers list recognizes Canadian employers with “exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.” The 100 winning employers (all in Canada) are a strong core of more than 3,500 companies that participated in the competition.
Both the DiversityInc Top 50 List and the DiversityInc Top 10 Companies For People With Disabilities are a rich database of inclusive global companies with operations in Canada.
Their ranking mechanism is quite detailed, including factors such as inclusiveness of their career application process, the level of on-the-job accommodations offered, their focus on working with vendors owned by persons with disabilities and the presence of certain benefits such as telecommuting and employee resource groups.
- Talentegg.ca is Canada's leading job site and online career resource for college and university students and recent graduates.