Make Your Business Accessible to Skilled, Qualified Talent

Good talent is hard to find.

And hard working, skilled, engaged talent is very hard to find.

If you’re a business owner looking for great employees, you aren’t alone. Almost 30 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses report having difficulty filling job vacancies.

Unfortunately, many businesses are also unwittingly preventing qualified and skilled candidates from applying to their job vacancies.

These candidates are people with disabilities (PWD), and statistics show that PWD often outshine their non-disabled colleagues in the workplace.

For example:

– People with disabilities have a 72% higher retention rate at work. (Stats Canada)

– 90% of people with disabilities rated average or better on job performance. (Stats Canada)

– A study by American retail store Walgreens found that employees with disabilities had a 40 per cent lower safety incident rate, a 63% lower rate of absence due to accidents and 78% lower overall costs associated with accidents.

Sean Callaghan knows about the benefits of hiring PWD first hand. He is Sodexo Canada’s General Manager of Food Service Operations for an office campus with more than 4,000 employees. Twenty per cent of Sean’s 35-person team are people with disabilities.

By focusing on his employees’ abilities rather than disabilities, Sean and his team have produced a number of achievements.

“Our successes range from improved staff morale, reduced turnover, improved attendance, reduced accidents and improved customer loyalty,” says Sean.

“If you look at the whole employee, which is what I like to do, you see that, maybe [some PWDs] don’t hear as well or see as well, but they make up for it in other ways.”

But despite successes like Sean’s, people with disabilities are still being turned away from businesses before they even apply.

Jennifer Gorman, Diversity Recruitment Specialist at, helps businesses identify ways that their recruitment systems and strategies may be deterring skilled PWD candidates.

A big culprit, for example, is resume screening systems.

“Sometimes people with disabilities have holes in their resumes. So if a screening system is looking for continuity in dates or buzzwords, [employers] can be missing out on some fabulous talent,” Jennifer explains.

“Because whether an individual is going to do a really good job on the job isn’t necessarily reflected in their resume.”

And once barriers, like screening systems, are identified, it’s easier for businesses to take them down.

For instance, when Sean Callaghan first interviewed someone who was deaf, he wasn’t sure how to conduct an interview without speaking. But instead of letting the candidate’s disability become a barrier, or making assumptions about what the interviewee needed, Sean simply asked how to proceed.

“I just wrote down on a piece of paper, ‘How do we communicate?’” Sean explains. “I use respect as my guideline. I treat everyone with respect regardless of who they are.”

“It’s not rocket science. A lot of people think there are a lot of moving parts to this whole process, but it’s just employers employing people, and people doing the job the employer wants.”

So what can your business do to be more accessible to the many qualified and skilled people with disabilities in Ontario? A good starting point is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The AODA aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for Ontarians with disabilities, with a goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025.  The Standards under the Act contain the rules businesses and organizations must follow to identify, prevent and remove barriers for people with disabilities. The legislation also spells out reporting requirements that all companies with 20 or more staff must file a compliance report by December 31, 2017. The report can be accessed at:

For more information check out the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Enabling Change webinars by here.

Or if you are interested in hiring persons with disabilities check out: