Each year CLBC’s Widening Our World (WOW) Award recognizes the contributions and innovations of people who are working to build communities that are accepting of all abilities. This year’s theme for the WOW Awards is employment. As part of the three-year Community Action Employment Plan, British Columbians were asked to nominate employers who are hiring adults CLBC serves and creating positive, inclusive workplaces where everyone feels welcome, valued and respected.
Chris Boehm was nominated by his employee, Kevin Speijer, who has worked at Burger 55 for just under a year. Boehm and the staff at Burger 55 have embraced inclusion and provided Kevin with the same work experience and expectations as they would any other employee. Boehm also employs two other individuals with a disability and helps builds awareness of the skills and abilities people with diverse abilities can bring to the workplace.
More than 80 nominations were received and four people from across the province were chosen for a WOW!clbc Award. The other winners are from Kamloops, Chilliwack and Vancouver. Nominations were reviewed regionally and then by a provincial committee made up of individuals served by CLBC, community members, service providers and CLBC staff.
Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW Awards to recognize British Columbians who are creating opportunities and building awareness for a vision of full citizenship for people with developmental disabilities, one where they lead good lives, have rich relationships, choices in how they live and employment opportunities.
The Community Action Employment Plan is a collaborative strategy that promotes inclusive and supportive employment opportunities. Among other things, the plan supports coordination of local employment resources and community engagement with employers, government, service providers, volunteers, self advocates, families, community leaders and CLBC staff.
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell –
“In B.C., we have the goal of becoming the most progressive place for people with disabilities in Canada. It’s great to see Chris Boehm from Burger 55 getting this award. Chris is breaking down barriers to employment and recognizing that there is a business case for hiring from the disability community.”
MLA Dan Ashton – Penticton –
“Congratulations to Chris and his staff for winning this award. Burger 55 clearly understands people with disabilities are dedicated, committed employees who bring positive contributions to both the workplace and their community.”
Seonag Macrae, CLBC CEO –
“I want to congratulate Chris and all of the WOW nominees for 2014. For many years, Community Living BC has been focused on increasing job opportunities for adults with diverse abilities who want to work. By focusing on ability rather than disability, employers are empowering individuals to lead more independent lives and take active roles in their community. I am pleased to recognize the good work being done by many employers across BC.”
Kevin Speijer, Burger 55 Employee and Nominator –
“Chris, the owner is awesome. I feel that I am a valuable employee. I feel safe and comfortable in my work environment and I have money to buy things I couldn’t afford before. I am very proud; I feel better and have improved self-worth. I am treated the same as the other staff in a welcoming team environment. Not to mention they have the best burgers in town!”
Chris Boehm, Owner of Burger 55 and Nominee –
“I always wanted to incorporate people with disabilities into my business and the hiring process was super easy. Kevin is a real asset to our team. He likes to talk and tell stories and is a fun guy to work with. He’s a hard worker and always gets the job done.”
Profile: Chris Boehm, Inclusive Employer, Owner of Burger 55
- Chris Boehm is an employer that went looking to hire adults with developmental disabilities.
- Chris owns Burger 55, a custom gourmet burger restaurant located in Penticton, BC. It has been featured on Food Network Canada’s “You Gotta Eat Here”.
- Chris found a way to leverage the diverse talent of adults in Penticton who want to work to enhance their business growth, creating a win-win solution that provides a long-term job opportunity for people with developmental disabilities.
- Chris always wanted to incorporate people with disabilities into his business. With the help of the Neil Squire Society and their ‘Working Together Program’, Chris took a step by step approach to outline exact job duties, to be clear about what type of employee he was seeking, took time to meet with support staff to identify individual work traits, and met with individual’s family members.
- Chris and the team at Burger 55 support creating opportunities for leadership by providing hands-on training, supervisors are flexible as to how work gets accomplished and they provide encouragement, working alongside individuals and allowing them to determine their own successful work style to get the job done.
The Case for Inclusive Hiring
- A DuPont study showed that 82 per cent of workers who have a disability scored average or above average in performance ratings.
- A Harris study showed that 55 per cent of employers say that workers who have a disability work harder than other employees.
- Most job accommodations to help someone with a disability at work cost less than $500.
- According to the DuPont survey, 86 per cent of employees who have a disability have average to above average attendance records.
- Research shows 80 per cent of consumers prefer to support businesses with diverse workforces.