U.K. President’s Group making disability a strategic business and societal priority is worth emulating: Kevin Lusignan
Thursday August 2, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger
The new federal panel created to explore best practices and barriers around the employment of people who have a disability is a good step forward for Canadians, says Kevin Lusignan. He just hopes it won’t stop with a report.
Connecting with business executives, as it appears the panel will be doing, offers significant potential for change, the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) senior manager of social and economic inclusion tells the BACI Blast.
“Change is going to happen when you start to bring together executive leadership of organizations.
“They have the kind of power to make it happen, and put disability confident hiring practices in place.”
With a focus in the private sector, the panel will seek to identify pockets of success in the labour market where people who have a disability have found and retained meaningful employment.
In addition to spotlighting best practices that lead to success, the panel will also identify the barriers and obstacles contributing to the nearly 50 per cent unemployment rate of adults in Canada who have a disability.
It is tasked with releasing a report in December.
In addition to the report, Kevin says he hopes to see the creation of a permanent group that meets regularly to consider ways to create leverage for jobs for people who have a disability.
He suggests a U.K. group of the country’s top CEOs is worth emulating in this respect.
The President’s Group, as it is called, is an offshoot of the Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD), an organization with a mission to make it easier to employ and do business with people who have a disability. EFD is supported by a growing list of members from U.K. business, multinational corporations, small to medium-sized enterprises and the public sector.
The President’s Group has about 40 select members and signals to colleagues, customers, and government that disability is a “strategic business and societal priority.”
Kevin says he understand the U.K. group has been working together to tear down some of the barriers people who have a disability face in gaining employment, including changing the interview process.
“The key part of all this is that it has to provide value for the employer,” he says. “This isn’t charity. It’s real employment, but it’s finding what people are good at and what they like to do.”
Especially if it goes beyond a report, the new Canadian federal panel is another one of the solutions needed to change society’s entire employment scenario, Kevin adds.
Community Living British Columbia has launched its own initiative to boost economic inclusion during the next three years. BACI has an ongoing employment program that also works with people who have a disability to find meaningful employment.
“(Change) has to happen at all levels: at the societal level; at the government level; at the bureaucratic level; at the organizational level and at the individual level,” he says. “The employment journey has to encompass all those things.”
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