Approximately 1 million job seekers experiencing a disability in Canada are unemployed or under employed.
October is Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) and it’s a good opportunity to reflect on a sizeable segment of our population that is being underserved. Back in 2017, Statistics Canada reported 3.7 million working-age Canadians identified as having a disability, yet only three in five were employed.
While the number of job vacancies has declined over the year from its peak of over 1 million, there is still a gap of hundreds of thousands of jobs across Canada that employers are struggling to fill. Employers are eager to hire.
According to the Discover Ability Network, 63% of persons with disabilities do not require accommodations in their workplace. And when they do, the cost or shift in workplace setup is often offset by the productivity of the employed person.
There are more noteworthy statistics:
• 72% higher employee retention rate among people with disabilities
• Businesses hiring people who have a disability experience a 72% increase in productivity
• Inclusive businesses grow profits up to 3x faster than their competitors
• 22% of Canadians have a disability
• Inclusive workplaces are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
Hiring people with disabilities not only fills workforce gaps in your business, but will help create a thriving and profitable business with higher retention rates. What’s holding us back?
It turns out one of the biggest barriers is our mindset. An article titled Why Don’t We Hire People With Disabilities? by Angela Kryhul from the Smith School of Business, an affiliate of Queen’s University, gets right to the point. Part of the issue is that we all too often equate disability with an inability to work.
The article highlights three misconceptions:
• Few disabled people are qualified for, or apply to, job posts
• Accommodations are expensive and complicated
• There are negative impacts on productivity and workplace culture
There is a wealth of resources available to employers interested in hiring people with disabilities. The Canadian Association for Supported Employment offers training, resources, and toolkits for employers. The Government of Ontario offers programs, resources, tips and tools. Locally, we have organizations like Heads Up For Inclusion and the Council for Persons with Disabilities offering their expertise and resources working here in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Our local employment agencies also offer a wealth of knowledge.
It’s time we get a bit out of our comfort zone, tap into local resources, educate ourselves and our teams, and update our hiring practices to include hiring people with disabilities. It will benefit your business, our communities, and our economy.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.