by Shelley DeCoste
The road to employment for people with diverse abilities is very bumpy. In some cases the road is very short, sometimes the road has a very long detour and sometimes it simply ends abruptly. Finding the right supports for employment can go a long way to smoothing out this employment road.
What are the road blocks you may ask? A lot of the road blocks are actually “old ways” of thinking – people sometimes still think that because you have a disability you simply can’t do … or it would just be too much. Or it is just too complicated to figure things out…
The statistics tell a very different story. People with diverse abilities are among the most reliable employees you can ever hire. They miss less work, show up on time (and even way too early) and are eager to get the job done. Yet there is still over 20% of people with disabilities who are not working today in BC. That’s what I call an untapped resource! The business community needs to stop only seeing the roadblocks and instead start blazing a trail that makes an accessible way for everyone.
We are not all looking to be doctors and lawyers – we want something to fill our day that is meaningful, and give back to our community, and take part in society like everyone else. We would also like a more comfortable life; always living on the edge of poverty is not a comfortable place.
Don’t you remember going to school, and sitting there dreaming about where you would be in the future? And all the successes that would come your way? Many people with diverse abilities can’t let themselves dream that far. Instead, they dream simply about belonging, and having a real job to go to. A real job, by the way, is earning a real salary. And paying real bills. And not being scared of earning too much or too little.
Tim Horton’s has been a leader in hiring people with diverse abilities. This is not because of charity. It makes good business sense. Mark Wafer says this strategy works in all kinds of ways. Not only are employees with diverse abilities good employees, they take pride in their work, and want to show their strengths and abilities. This is a good model for all employees to follow.
Note to employers: don’t stress too much about the “extra” time it might take to train us! There are organizations in your local communities to help with the training. We take our work seriously (sometimes a little too seriously) and it would be a good long-term investment for your business. I know… it all comes down to the biggest buck!
One more thing – people with diverse abilities who work also have extra money to spend, in your business and in your community. And we’re less of ‘a burden’ to society when we are working alongside you. So, take a walk on the wild side and just go around the roadblock of those old ideas. Help us help you succeed! And this month, October, 2014, help us celebrate Community Living Month and “Hire A Person with a Disability” Month.