The inclusive employer

The inclusive employer

< Back to Articles | Topics: Skilled workforce


Emma Menchefski

Have you ever heard a word so often it actually started to lose meaning? Words like innovation, tech, startup and disruptor. Words with powerful impact like diversity and inclusion.

Accessibility is one of those words.

Twenty per cent of the Canadian population has a disability. That’s about 7.5 million people. And of those 7.5 million people, more than 50 per cent are not working.

In the age of labour shortages and huge technological advancements, these numbers are unacceptable. According to Mark Wafer, a disability advocate and employer, most individuals in this group are willing and able to work but run into employment barriers.

Those barriers almost always translate to myths surrounding the disabled community. Myths like, “It’s too difficult to hire a person with a disability,” and, “It’s too expensive.” In reality, the only barriers are these damaging and false stereotypes.

Let’s break down these barriers and explore what people with disabilities can contribute to your workforce.


Wafer tells a story of a man with cerebral palsy, who unlike his able-bodied co-workers is not able to hop in his car and drive to work. This daily task, for many, is a simple point A to point B scenario. But for this man, he’s required to think differently and come up with a solution to the problem. Bringing that type of innovative thinking into the workplace opens the floor to new methods of brainstorming and problem solving. You’ve now hired an employee with a completely different view of the world — and that’s a key asset to businesses.

Lack of absenteeism and turnover

According to Wafer’s research, people with disabilities reported 85 per cent lower absenteeism. At Dupont, they reported 86 per cent lower. Absenteeism and turnover are two of the greatest costs to a business. For a smaller business, this can be financially devastating. At Wafer’s Tim Hortons franchise locations, he’s experienced less than 40 per cent turnover in the last 11 years among his employees with disabilities.

Setting the standard

Due to the variety of obstacles a person with disabilities faces in the run of the day, they are safe, responsible
and dedicated employees. They are aware of their surroundings and take extra precaution to ensure everything runs smoothly.

With Nova Scotia’s Accessibility 2030 Act, there’s never been a better time for business to take the lead on accessibility. Read through it, find out if you’re compliant and make the changes necessary to become an inclusive and accessible business.

Reach out to the Halifax Chamber if you’re interested in learning more or looking for resources.

Accessibility is more than just a buzzword. It’s equal opportunity. It’s respecting human rights and dignity. And, it’s just good business.

*A big thank you to Mark Wafer, disability advocate and employer for his talk, The Inclusive Employer, during the 2019 National Accessibility Week in Halifax. He inspired this article and is responsible for the research behind the statistics within.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Skilled workforce

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