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ROI – Return on Inclusion

September 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: CPHR Manitoba


As featured in the Fall 2017 issue of HRmatters


Authored by Marlene Hatgistamatakis, CPHR, Program Lead, Career & Employment at CNIB,, 204-789-0953


Meet Cathy. Cathy is an accounting clerk with excellent customer service skills and related accounting experience, business and accounting education, and great computer skills. You phone Cathy and arrange an interview with her as she has applied for a clerical position with your finance department. You’re excited about this candidate and feel optimistic they could be the one you are looking for. When you meet Cathy in person at your office, she arrives with her guide dog. Cathy is blind. 


How do you react? Do you even proceed with the interview, do you look at your other candidates instead? If you are like 71 per cent of Canadian employers surveyed by Ipsos in 2016, you would choose the sighted candidate if both were equally qualified.


Manitoba employers and businesses are currently in the process of implementing changes to their organizations to comply with The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which needs to happen by November 2016, 2017 or 2018 depending on your industry type. Recommendations for an Accessibility Standard for Employment, that will look at removing barriers to employment for people with disabilities, is still in the works and has not been released as of the date this article was written.


As an HR Professional, you may be thinking of how this will affect your organization – your recruiting and selection process; accommodation; and diversity and inclusion practices. If you haven’t been thinking of this yet, you might want to start now.


According to a 2012 Statistics Canada Survey on Disability, 49 per cent of adults with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 74 per cent of adults without a disability. If you have vision loss like Cathy, the employment rate is even lower at less than 38 per cent. Here is a huge untapped labour pool just waiting for employers like you to give them a chance.


I found that in my education and training in the HR world, that there were not many opportunities to learn how to hire or work with people with disabilities. Or maybe they were there and I didn’t take advantage of them since I work with many people with disabilities. Sure, there are sessions on disability management and accommodation, employment equity, but nothing directly on what I, as an HR professional needed to consider when recruiting or hiring someone with a disability. Could that be why a 2013 BMO Survey found only 3 in 10 small business owners hired people with disabilities?


HR professionals have a great opportunity right now to leverage with their management teams on hiring people with disabilities. Here are some business ROI (return on inclusion) points to bring up at your next management meeting and may help develop new business growth:


  • One in seven people or 13.7 per cent of the adult population in Canada have declared they are people with disabilities according to the 2012 Statisticss Canada reports.
  • Over 1 billion people globally (as per the World Health Organization) are people with disabilities (nearly the population size of China).
  • Forty billion dollars is the estimated buying power of the disability community in Canada (Canadian Business SenseAbility). What CEO doesn’t want a piece of that business?
  • A lot of community employment resources may have access to hiring incentives. They also can provide resources to accommodation needs, coaching for the newly hired employee, or be able to send you experienced and qualified job candidates that you may be struggling to find.


There are also other big benefits to employers. Reports documented from Tim Horton’s franchise owner, Mark Wafer and large American chain, Walgreens report that their employees who had disabilities:


  • Are typically happier and more productive than people without disabilities;
  • Are creative with out of the box thinking and problem solving; and
  • Have reduced WCB, sick leave, disability insurance, health benefit claims (what HR professional isn’t trying to reduce these numbers).


Employers who hire people with disabilities also have a stronger connection to the community and in turn new business opportunities.


A simple and easy action you can take today is to start the conversation with any job applicant when you first give them a call is ask, “Do you require any accommodation to complete this interview/test or attend this interview?”.  This starts the conversation. You may be surprised that accommodating a person with vision loss may be as easy as reducing the amount of light in a room, or larger font size of documents. 


Remember our candidate Cathy at the beginning of this article? What do you think she needs to do the job you were interviewing her for? A phone (you got that), a computer (you got that too), some screen reading software for the computer (not so hard to purchase and install with a bit of help from IT). Anything else, she will let you know. Cathy is currently looking for employment so maybe she can be your next employee. 


October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Visit for events happening throughout the month. You can view more information on how to hire people with vision loss here:

Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Manitoba (CPHR Manitoba)
1810-275 Portage Avenue / Winnipeg, Manitoba / R3B 2B3
tel. 204.943.2836 / fax. 204.943.1109 / email.

For additional information please visit: CPHR.CA

People Leading Business.™