On October 5, 80 employers, government and community partners gathered at the third annual Employer Breakfast in Victoria to recognize inclusive employers and help educate other businesses to increase their diverse hiring practices.
Organized each year by GT Hiring Solutions, along with Community Living BC and a broad range of other organizations, this year’s breakfast began with a speech from Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Michelle Stilwell, who spoke about the benefits to employers of diversity in their workforce.
“Workers with a disability are five times more likely to stay in a job. And almost 90% of consumers prefer companies that employ people with disabilities. Inclusive hiring makes good business sense for employers,” said Minister Stilwell, who also mentioned the Province provides support to assist businesses with diverse hiring as part of Accessibility 2024, government’s 10-year plan to make B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities.
Next up on the podium was Christina Peters, a self-advocate who works as a team assistant in CLBC’s South Island office. Christina talked about her job and the benefits she has seen both personally and professionally.
“I have been working for government for 22 years. When I started, I worked full time shredding paper. Now I do a whole range of things, like keeping up the database, answering the reception phone and helping to welcome people to our office,” said Christina. “I feel very privileged to have a job that helps me build my skills and my connection to community.”
Attendees also heard from Bev Regan, co-owner of InFocus Services and a sponsor of the breakfast, who spoke about her company’s inclusive hiring practices and asked that other employers adopt diversity as part of their business plans.
“I would encourage any employer to hire someone with a disability not because they have a disability, but because they are one of us. We all look to be accepted for who we are, to feel included and to contribute. As employers, we can provide those opportunities…and at very little cost to our organizations,” said Bev.
Stacey Stenger, assistant manager of customer service and operations for Winners, also spoke about the positive impacts of diverse hiring practices, and shared very positive customer feedback she has received about one of Winners employees, Josh Warwick. After reading the glowing reviews, she got a laugh when she told the employers in the room, “don’t think about it, he isn’t going anywhere.”
Josh, who attended the event with Stacey, talked about the positive work environment Winners has created and the strong sense of team. He said in his remarks, “Even in my interview, my disability has never been an issue. They see it is not about my disability but about who I am as an individual and what my abilities are. And customers see me only as a hard-working person.”
The benefits employers experience is also confirmed through data collected by CLBC contracted agencies who specialize in matching potential employees with disabilities to employers. Shelley Gerber, Provincial Employment Coordinator for CLBC shared the following with employers at the event.
“Specific to the population CLBC serves, our data shows that 48 per cent of employers who are hiring adults with developmental disabilities are first time employers, and 52 per cent are repeat employers. This clearly shows us that when employers experience the benefits of inclusive hiring first hand, they proceed with hiring again.”
Research shows that the cost of accommodations to include people with disabilities in the workplace is on average only $500 to the employer. It also shows that more than half of 1,100 employers of people with disabilities involved in a Job Network study benefitted from increased overall company morale and productivity.
To find out more about the work CLBC and its community partners are doing to increase employment for adults with developmental disabilities, visit the Community Action Employment Plan website here. To find out more about inclusive employment and Accessibility 2024, click here.