Inclusive and Accessible Workplaces for People with Disabilities

New Research on Inclusive and Accessible Workplaces for People with Disabilities

October 31, 2023


(OTTAWA/VANCOUVER) – Research from the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) sheds new light on how employers from across industries can identify and remove barriers in recruitment, hiring, and retention for people with disabilities and advance inclusive employment practices in Canada now and in the future. SRDC’s research highlights how innovative employment models and employer actions have real-life impacts for people with disabilities by creating more inclusive and accessible workplaces.

In partnership with a team of inclusive workforce specialists from MacLeod Silver HR Business Partners, SRDC’s research contributes new insights to drive innovation in accessibility and inclusion throughout the employment lifecycle. The BC Partners in Workforce Innovation (BC WiN) project assessed the effectiveness of an employer-focused job-matching model to connect job seekers with disabilities and build the capacity of inclusive employers across British Columbia. With the proven success of this innovative way to connect people with disabilities to employment, the Open Door Group was able to secure funding to transition it to Canadian Partners in Workforce Innovation (CAN WiN). CAN WiN is now serving a broader spectrum of employers while offering comprehensive recruitment, retention, training, and consulting services in multiple provinces.

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Building on the partnerships and approaches developed through BC WiN, SRDC and partners engaged a national network of employers, experts, and persons with lived experience of disability on research for Accessibility Standards Canada. The goal was to provide insights into the development of employment standards for federally regulated employers under the Accessible Canada Act. This research expands on BC WiN’s roadmap for employers called the ‘Four Pillars of Accessible and Inclusive Employment,’ offering practical steps to identify and eliminate workplace barriers. The Four Pillars model emphasizes the need for employers to assess their commitment and readiness before adjusting their recruitment and retention practices.

As SRDC’s research highlights, embracing the social model of disability empowers employers to drive meaningful change. A social model of disability supports the role of employers in proactively identifying and removing workplace barriers fostering an inclusive environment. Promising employer practices include union and employee engagement (especially those with lived experience of a disability), embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the business, and having clear goals with measurable results. The research also underscores that recruitment processes are accessible and inclusive by design, along with continuous support and accommodation throughout the employment lifecycle to ensure lasting employee retention.

Learn more about this project and access relevant reports.

“These research projects emphasize the importance of addressing every phase of employment for people with disabilities, while testing new approaches to connecting employers to a more diverse workforce. It is an exciting time for this research to be put into action,” said David Gyarmati, SRDC President and CEO.

By learning what works for employers, service providers, and people with lived experience, the research contributes important lessons learned for new approaches that increase the inclusion of people with disabilities in Canadian workplaces.

For more information on these research projects, contact Shawn de Raaf ([email protected]).

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