Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities: Initial Report

Incenting the business community to adjust its behavior is a complex task. Businesses are not so simple that a short term tax cut or refund incentive will create a lasting behavior change. Businesses have deep-rooted behaviors based on finite knowledge, and like people, require a significant cultural shift to change. Engaging business in driving change around hiring people with disabilities is one such cultural shift. Employers have various drivers and while corporate social responsibility and “doing the right thing” can be somewhat motivating, these motivations can come under attack during periods of recession, competition or market changes. And when there are threats, the business activities that are in any way options or simply “nice to have” are typically cut. When it comes to hiring people with disabilities, this is a cultural change in which we believe business should engage. We believe this runs deeper than a social movement framed by doing the right thing. We believe there is evidence that shows hiring persons with disabilities is a true business benefit with long-term sustainable business advantages. We frame the business case for employers in the following categories:• People with disabilities represent an untapped labour pool in a competitive labour market;
• People with disabilities bring unique skills and insights that can help employers better understand their customers/clients;
• Qualified individuals with disabilities bring diversity of background and insights that can create an environment where diversity of thinking is embraced and encouraged;
• Diversity of thinking creates a mitigation against disruptive labour forces, and can actually create new market options
when businesses are threatened;
• Staff with disabilities bring depth to teaming activities, increasing empathy, engagement and morale in teams.