The Puzzle of Inclusion: Embracing Diversity in Canada's Workforce

11 August 2023

Canada, a land of endless potential and innovation, is a place where over 6 million vibrant-souled people with disabilities are of working age, ready to contribute their brilliance to the corporate stage. And yet, despite this vast reservoir of talent, only half of them are jiving with the professional groove. But hold on to your business hats, because the real plot twist here is that many companies are still playing catch-up when it comes to hiring people with disabilities.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room – the skepticism that's been hanging around like a persistent raincloud. Some companies have been whispering, "What about the extra costs?" and "Will they really be able to handle the job?" It's time to flip the script and dim those doubts. Recent studies have brought the spotlight on a dazzling truth: people with disabilities not only match the productivity of their non-disabled counterparts but may even outshine them. Think about it – these incredible individuals are like master magicians, conjuring their way through challenges to create spectacular results.

And the cost issue? Well, it's time to debunk that myth. Accommodations are not these monstrous expenses looming over the horizon. In most cases, it's like giving the office a little facelift – accessible workstations, a sprinkle of transportation magic – presto! The investment isn't as steep as the tales may have led you to believe.

Now, why wouldn't every company jump on this rocket ship of opportunity, you ask? Let's take a peek at the three big "Why Nots":

1. It's the Right Thing to Do: Companies should step up when their community needs inclusion. Every individual, regardless of their abilities, deserves an equal shot at success. Embracing people with disabilities not only nurtures diversity but also dismantles the walls of misunderstanding and bias.

2. It's Good for Business: Imagine your company as a grand tapestry, woven together by the unique threads of each employee. People with disabilities bring a palette of perspectives, igniting innovation like fireworks on a summer night. Studies have waved their magic wands, revealing that companies with inclusive workplaces are more than just productive – they're profitable. A sprinkle of diversity can create a whirlwind of customer satisfaction and lower turnover rates, painting your business landscape in vibrant hues.

3. It's the Law: Cue the dramatic music, because in Canada, it's the law to embrace the magic of inclusion. Discrimination against people with disabilities in employment? Forbidden. Refusing a job based on someone's abilities? Off limits. The law's watchful eye is ever-present, ensuring that the path to inclusion remains unobstructed.

Enough with the talk; let's unveil the map to this path of inclusion. How can you, as a business leader, make your company more accessible and inviting for individuals with disabilities? Here's your guide:

1. Understanding is Key: Every character has their origin story, and every employee with disabilities has unique challenges. Dive into their story, understand their struggles, and identify the magic elixirs that can make their work life smoother.

2. Flexibility is Your Wand: In this land of diversity, there's no one-size-fits-all. What sparkles for one might not dazzle another. Embrace your inner sorcerer of flexibility, crafting bespoke solutions that cater to individual needs.

3. Don't Go Solo: Just as even the wisest man needs guidance, don't hesitate to seek help. Organizations like the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies, or even the Ontario Disability Employment Network are the guiding organizations who can guide you through the art of accommodation.

Ready for a taste of the proven and tested tips that can make your workplace transition to be a company that embraces inclusion? Here they are:

1. Accessible Workstations: Imagine desks that dance to any height, keyboards that sing in harmony, and monitors that cater to every gaze. These are not the fantasies of fairy tales but the accessible workstations that empower all.

Speaking of desks, electric height adjustable desks will be your best option. Pick desks that can be adjusted to comfortable height. Head over to FlexiSpot website for an array of choices which are all sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, tried and tested.

2. Flexi-Time Wonders: Behold the charms of telecommuting, flextime, and compressed workweeks. These spells grant employees the flexibility to weave their professional quests around their personal adventures.

3. Disability Awareness Training: Your team, enlightened and empathetic. Train them to see the world through the eyes of their peers with disabilities. Break down barriers and build bridges of understanding.

4. Alter the Physical Landscape: Install ramps for easy access, restrooms that welcome all, and parking spaces that say, "Pull up, everyone's invited!" Transform your workplace into a wonderland of accessibility.

5. The secret ingredient? Collaboration. Work with each employee, crafting tailor-made solutions that seamlessly blend with their unique journey.

Inclusivity does not stop there. If you think that there needs to improve more, then heed to these pieces of advice:

1. Seize the Initiative: Don't let opportunities flutter by like fleeting fireflies. Initiate conversations about accommodation early, and co-create solutions that weave seamlessly into the fabric of work.

2. Flex Your Creativity: There's no one-size-fits-all potion. Be prepared to spin out unique solutions, flexing your creativity muscles to their full extent.

3. Open Lines of Communication: One man's journey is never walked alone. Keep your employees in the loop about the rules and policies you've woven for them. Feedback is your guiding star.

4. Unite Your Forces: Rally the support of your management team. They're the guardians of resources and pillars of support, ensuring your inclusive visions materialize.

In conclusion, the call to arms is loud and clear – hiring individuals with disabilities is not just a choice; it's a responsibility that transforms your company into a beacon of inclusivity. You're not just embracing the right path; you're sprinting ahead of the curve, planting seeds of success that will sprout into a garden of innovation and prosperity. The time is ripe; the stage is set. Embrace the power of inclusion and watch your business soar to new heights.