On 27th September, ITAC Talent hosted a seminar on “Enhancing Profits and Productivity Through Hiring People with Disabilities” at Deloitte’s office in downtown Toronto. This session featured industry experts as well as The Honourable David C. Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Robert Watson, CEO and President of ITAC remarked that “by 2020, there will be 200,000 unfilled ICT jobs in Canada.” FDM is committed to reducing this gap while also increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here are ten key reasons why increasing accessibility in hiring is a cause that all employers should embrace.
1) Reducing the Unemployment Rate
The current unemployment rate for people with disabilities is about 25% in Canada. In comparison, at the height of The Great Depression, the unemployment rate reached about 24%. Hiring people with disabilities can help to ease the overall national unemployment rate over time and put a spotlight on this underserved segment of the population.
2) Providing a Living Wage
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides each individual with a pension of about $14,000 CAD per year. For those that are willing and able to work, this is often well below their income potential. Employing people with disabilities not only provides them with a living wage, but also allows them to contribute to the economy while providing social mobility for the individual and their family. FDM is dedicated to the cause of social mobility and helping our consultants gain the training and experience necessary to build a rewarding career in IT.
3) Untapped Skilled Workforce
50-60% of people on ODSP possess a post-secondary degree, which shows that there is a large untapped pool of talent waiting to be utilised. While many people on ODSP receive assistance looking for employment from their college or university immediately following their post-secondary studies, many eventually fall outside the window of support and are unsure of how to enter the labour market. As a result, people in their 20’s are the largest segment of the population on ODSP. Also, people with disabilities are among the highest percentage of people who start their own businesses. FDM is committed to helping this largely untapped skilled workforce find meaningful and beneficial employment through our Careers Programme.
4) A Growing Population
Mark Patterson, Executive Director of Magnet, highlighted that “Disability is the only category we can all enter.” The population of people with a disability is expected to grow from the current rate of one in ten to one in seven in Ontario in the next ten years, due to an aging baby boomer population. With an aging workforce getting close to retirement, employers will be looking to hire people with disabilities to fill these available roles.
5) Lower Employee Turnover and Absentee Rates
Mr. Patterson also discussed the business case for hiring people with disabilities. Mark Wafer, an owner of seven Tim Horton’s restaurants began to hire people with disabilities and started to notice a few changes. His overall employee turnover rate went from 100% to 40% per year. He saw a lower absentee rate and noticed a reduction in onboarding costs as employees were likely to stay longer due to the more inclusive environment that had been created. Six of Mr. Wafer’s Tim Horton’s franchises also became the six most profitable Tim Horton’s in Canada, which further strengthens the business case.
6) No Loss of Profit
As Mr. Onley put it “There isn’t a labour shortage, there is an awareness shortage.” While there is a common misconception that hiring people with disabilities could lead to a loss of profit, Mr. Onley states that there has never been a study in North America that has concluded this.
7) Reallocation of Government Funds
The province of Ontario spends $4.4 billion per year in income support for individuals with disabilities through ODSP. By reducing the number of people receiving government assistance, these funds can be reallocated to other social programs and initiatives. In addition, it increases the number of people paying taxes potentially leading to a decrease in income tax rates over time, which benefits the entire population.
8) Lower Rate of Workplace Injury
People with disabilities have a lower rate of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims than the general population because they are less likely to put themselves into situations that would result in injury. This helps to maintain a healthier and more productive workforce while increasing company profits from reduced absenteeism and insurance premiums.
9) No Additional Expenditures
Hiring managers often cite that people with disabilities will require adaptions to their work environment that can prove costly. Mr. Onley highlighted that in most cases, employees with disabilities will often come to work with their own assistive devices. Any modifications required usually cost the employer less than $500 CAD.
10) Creates a More Open and Accepting Workforce
Mr. Onley concluded his speech with “be a role model, be a helping hand,” illustrating that if one employer models inclusive behaviour, other employers within the same industry are likely to follow suit. Being a leader in hiring people with disabilities showcases a more open and accepting workplace for all prospective and existing employees, which can strengthen the employer’s brand in an often crowded employment market vying for top employees. As an equal opportunity employer, FDM is committed to helping our clients diversify their workforce and creating employment opportunities for all.
If you are interested in learning more about FDM’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace, click here.