Employers – Working with the Disabled: Will you Help?

positive about disabled people logoAccording to a recent BMO survey, a majority of Canadians (80%) believe government and private sector employers should really be doing more to help workers with disabilities enter the labour force.

People are of the belief that employers helping more would save taxpayers money, and not create additional expenses (45% versus 20%).

Sonya Kunkel, Managing Director, Diversity and Inclusion at BMO Financial Group, says, “Canadians get it.” Putting people to work is more constructive, more productive, and less expensive socially and fiscally, than writing welfare cheques.”

“We need to perpetually repeat and reinforce the benefits persons with disabilities bring to the workforce, and still encourage government and businesses to address head on the barriers to fuller employment among this cohort. This is particularly relevant today when small business owners tell us the number-one challenge to future growth is finding and retaining talent.”

Over three-quarters (77%) of firms that have employed persons with disabilities said these workers either met (62%) or exceeded (15%) their expectations, found the Count Me In survey.

“This actually parallels our experience at BMO,” she said. “We have found that disabled staff members perform as well, or better than their peers. There really is no reason for so many people with disabilities to be consistently excluded from the workforce.”

Only slightly over half of persons with disabilities who are ready and able to work have jobs.

“The biggest barrier to hiring people with disabilities may be a hiring bias among business owners supported by misinformation, misperception, and an absence of knowledge with respect to how to go about hiring, managing, and the way in which to accommodate people with disabilities,” said Kunkel.

There are also misperceptions concerning the cost of accommodations. Most of the 1,000 respondents had no idea what the average cost of an accommodation would be. Those that ventured a guess overestimated the cost at $10,000. In fact, 20% of staff with a disability needs no accommodations in any respect, whereas the typical value for those who do is $500, said BMO.

Accommodations can embrace adjustable desks or chairs, useful devices and software, flexible work hours, telecommuting, or just understanding the various ways in which team members learn new information or skills.

Research Sources: Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited

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