CEOs in Carts with Coffee? All in the Name of Accessible, Inclusive Workplaces

“The Presidents Group is showing true leadership in helping to create diverse, inclusive workplaces that employ people with disabilities and recognize their value in the workplace,” Minister Shane Simpson.

In late October 2018, the Presidents Group invited B.C. CEOs and small business owners to a roundtable discussion on how to make workplaces accessible. The roundtable facilitated talks on innovative and inclusive organizations, the business impacts of upcoming federal accessibility legislation and how to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities.

B.C. is currently facing a labour shortage with an expected 900,000 job openings by 2028. Despite this, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities (11.6 per cent) remains much higher than the rate for people without disabilities (7.1 per cent).

The first question people often ask in a social situation is, “What is your name?” The second is, “What do you do?” The Presidents Group aims to change the answer to the second question for many British Columbians with a disability.

Roundtable Brings Issues to Light

The recent roundtable was a moment for businesses, small and large, to address this gap and business opportunity. Highlights from the day include:

  • Sarah White, COO and co-founder of Fairware suggested how to create culture that welcomes disclosure;
  • Tewanee Joseph, CEO at Tewanee Consulting Group shared how his consulting company leads the way by creating a customer experience inclusive of accessibility; and
  • Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO of ICBC spoke about broadening recruitment strategies by creating partnerships and amending hiring processes such as interviews, to be more inclusive.

To highlight some of their work and encourage other businesses to take part, they created a hilarious parody of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars with Coffee show. Have a smile and think with CEOs in Carts with Coffee.

“Having a diverse and inclusive workforces is absolutely the right thing to do—but it is also good for business,” Craig Richmond, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority and Presidents Group Co-Chair. “YVR is committed to being a leader when it comes to accessible and inclusive workplace.”

B.C. Business Leaders Lead the Way to Accessible, Inclusive Workplaces

The Presidents Group focuses on the business case for hiring people with disabilities. Research shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, six times more likely to be innovative and six times more likely to anticipate change.

“People with disabilities have had different experiences, so they think about things differently,” said Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of Vancity, and Presidents Group co-chair. “They bring a fresh perspective to our work that, frankly, we couldn’t get anywhere else.”

The Presidents Group is a network of change-driven B.C. business leaders who are champions for more accessible, inclusive workplaces. The Presidents Group represents businesses of all different sizes and sectors, engaging with employers and business owners around the province to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in B.C. and create a more accessible consumer marketplace.

The Presidents Group invites all B.C. based businesses who want to be more accessible and inclusive to join the Community of Accessible Employers by visiting www.accessibleemployers.ca.

Mahin Rashid is a strategic community development leader and dedicates her career to ensuring equal opportunities for everyone in our province. She works currently as an accessibility and inclusion consultant for the Presidents Group, a network of senior business leaders working to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in BC.

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