Getting a job if you have a disability can be a lot easier than you think – if you know where to look.
Today, companies want to be more inclusive of the Canadian workforce and be more reflective of the customers that they serve. With the right employer, you can find a perfect fit including accommodations from both a built environment and an inclusive culture.
My experience as an Employment Specialist has shown me that companies often don’t know where to go to find diverse talent. Recent graduates with disabilities are often afraid to apply for their ideal positions for fear of discrimination through the recruitment process without realizing that those employers may be seeking someone with exactly their profile. Below are a few tips to find inclusive employers committed to recruiting and retaining diverse talent. Keep in mind that this isn’t a fool-proof system, but I find these to be some of the most effective methods.
1. Diversity and Inclusion (“D&I”) Partnerships
Employers that sponsors, partners with and/or supports organizations and associations committed to D&I is one way to know if an employer is inclusive. Employers who support organizations committed to inclusive initiatives typically have a culture that values diversity.
My advice would be to research which employers support these types of efforts. This should give a good indication if they are open and accommodating.
There are numerous major Canadian D&I organizations that are worth checking out. Here are some of my favourites:
- The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) – this organization provides tools and support to employers looking to become more inclusive.
- The Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN) – with over 60 employer partners, their Business Leadership Network consists of 30+ employers who are committed to promoting the hiring of persons with disabilities.
- Canadian Business SenseAbility – this is a national organization run by private-sector business leaders aiming to accelerate business success through the talents of persons with disabilities.
- The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) – this is a member-driven organization comprised of a diverse range of employment service providers. Many of the ODEN members have a significant presence outside of Ontario so it is worth taking a look even if you don’t live in Ontario
2. The “Google Test”
When I am evaluating about a company’s commitment to D&I, I typically start with a simple online search, which can be surprisingly effective.
Companies aren’t shy about communicating and promoting their values – they want clients, staff, prospective employees and stakeholders to know their organizational beliefs, goals and commitments.
When attracting the best talent, they want to demonstrate why they are an employer of choice. It is also good for business – people prefer to work with and/or receive services from companies with good cultures and core values. So searching for the employer name + diversity + Canada gives a pretty good overview of their commitment level.
Check their website to see if they have a diversity section, learn about their inclusive practices, what causes they support and their current initiatives. Companies that are open to and support diversity hiring will usually make an effort to highlight this on a diversity page.
3. Are they award winning?
To be recognized with an award, companies must be doing a few things right. Numerous organizations recognize the efforts of employers who are making an impact with their diversity and inclusion practices. Below are two of what I feel are the more prestigious awards out there. Take a look at the lists and see which employers have won awards and why.
The Canada’s Best Diversity Employers list recognizes Canadian employers with “exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs”. The 100 winning employers (all based in Canada) are a strong core of the over 3,500 companies that participated in the competition.
Both the DiversityInc Top 50 List and the DiversityInc Top 10 Companies For People With Disabilities are a rich database of inclusive global companies with operations in Canada. Their ranking mechanism is quite detailed, including factors such as the inclusiveness of their career application process, the level of on-the-job accommodations offered, their focus on working with vendors owned by persons with disabilities and the presence of certain benefits such as telecommuting and employee resource groups.
4. Major conferences and job fairs
Participation and support of diversity and inclusion events are great indicators of the level of inclusiveness at a particular company. Companies attend these events because it is important to their values.
At recruiting sessions, they are looking for diverse talent. Here you can meet and network with individuals responsible for recruitment initiatives to promote inclusion at their organizations. At conferences and seminars advocating for inclusive practices you can connect with employers, who support these initiatives. I follow organizations committed to D&I on Twitter and LinkedIn and join their mailing lists to ensure I don’t miss out on any upcoming events!
If you are made aware of events via social media you can also do an online search to find out about upcoming events. You can also look for websites like Diversity in the Workplace that share a list of upcoming events, job postings and other resources and tools. If you have missed an event don’t worry, I suggest researching which employers attended and follow them on social media to ensure you don’t miss a future opportunity.
There are a number of ways to find inclusive employers; I hope these suggestions help with your job search. I have developed some great partnerships with employers committed to diversity hiring utilizing the advice above.