In July 2012, the Government of Canada appointed a panel to consult with private sector employers, as well as other organizations and individuals, on the labour market participation of people with disabilities. The panel members were asked to identify successes and best practices in the employment of people with disabilities, as well as the barriers faced by employers, and to report on their findings.
In-person and telephone consultations were conducted with almost 70 employers, and feedback was received from approximately 130 online submissions. Responses came from organizations of all sizes across the country and in a broad range of industry sectors. Findings were shared anonymously with a number of national non-profit organizations and business associations to determine if they resonated with other stakeholders.
While the consultations were the main focus of the panel’s efforts, research was also conducted into the business case associated with hiring people with disabilities in Canada and other jurisdictions. This report is directed at Canadian private sector employers, and offers the following findings:
Many companies are doing great things, but more education and training are needed (see “Employers speak”).
While most of the companies we heard from showed a genuine desire to hire people with disabilities, education and training are required to overcome barriers, dispel myths and put theory into practice. As the examples of forward-thinking Canadian companies and their best practices testify, there is significant experience available on which to build.
Hiring people with disabilities is good for business. (see “Understanding the business case”).
We heard this from senior and experienced business leaders who recognize the value of an inclusive work environment. Although mainly intuitive, their beliefs are supported by the performance of corporate diversity leaders on the capital markets, as well as data on employee retention and productivity.
It is noteworthy that in 57 percent of cases, no workplace accommodation is required for people with disabilities. In the 37 percent of cases reporting a one-time cost to accommodate an employee with a disability, the average amount spent is $500.
The keys to success are leadership and effective community partnerships (see “Making it work for you”).
To increase employment among people with disabilities and access the related benefits, tone from the top and the actions of leaders are imperative. Also critical is identifying community partners who fully understand the business’s talent needs and are committed to customer service. To help organizations begin the process of engaging and employing talented people with disabilities, this section also includes a list of initiatives called “Getting started.”