These success stories profile member organizations who are demonstrating inclusive recruitment practices and who are proactive in their efforts to integrate people with disabilities into the labour market using the tools, resources and community supports available to them.
An EARN Career Fair Success Story!
Retire-At-Home Services is an employer and EARN partner that offers personalized care at home for seniors. The company had a booth at EARN’s 2015 Career Fair, held at Ottawa City Hall. The Career Fair brought together 39 employers and over 180 job seekers with disabilities, all of whom were registered with service provider members of EARN. This event gave both parties a unique opportunity to network and, as a direct result of the Career Fair, we know of at least 5 job seekers with disabilities who became employed.
This is a story of one such successful hire from Karen Martin of Retire-At-Home Services. Their booth at the Career Fair was visited by a number of job seekers. So when Karen was recruiting for a companion for seniors, she interviewed and then offered the position to one of these job seekers, a person with a disability.
In writing about this employee, she said: “What impressed me was his kind and companionate nature, his calm disposition and desire to help others. The family of the client has expressed how much they adore him and how their father (who has Alzheimer’s) took to him immediately. The family is so impressed in fact, that they only want this employee to continue with their father (no one else!). Our case manager also stated that the employee was very professional, calm and followed all the company policies. He was very patient with the client and reported important information back to the nurse after the shift.”
We are very proud of this excellent example of an EARN partner championing inclusion and accessibility in the workplace.
Job Coaching Works!
When a local University contacted March of Dimes Canada (MODC) to discuss hiring some people with disabilities to participate in a contract with the Engineering Department, MODC was able to assist. March of Dimes Canada provides a number of programs and services to people with disabilities, including employment services in their Ottawa office. Five MODC clients met the University’s criteria and were offered contracts.
One of these individuals appeared to have little self esteem and felt that she had little to offer in the workplace. She had been employed before but had lost jobs with no tangible feedback provided by her previous employers as to the reasons why. She had therefore surmised that it must be because she had failed.
Her position at the University required her to be detail oriented and to concentrate for long periods of time. At first she experienced difficulty and began to show frustration and discouragement about her performance on the job. A Job Coach was provided to support and assist her in staying calm and encouraging her to problem-solve issues as they were identified. As the weeks passed, it was observed that she was showing a great deal of confidence in her work and was performing at a very high standard. The University provided her with valuable positive feedback on her personal growth and job performance.
After the completion of this contract, there was a marked difference in this person’s confidence. She no longer doubted her abilities and she felt quite confident that she could be successful in future jobs. Providing opportunities for employment and job coaching supports for people with disabilities not only enables individuals to show their value but it can change their outlook on themselves and on their future career opportunities.
Open Doors and Open Minds
Just a few years ago, some people looked at Royce’s disability as a barrier to employment. Today, Royce is a valued employee at a Honda car dealership. Royce’s amazing story began when LiveWorkPlay reached out to car dealerships in Ottawa. LiveWorkPlay, an EARN service provider partner, works with individuals with intellectual disabilities who want to find meaningful paid employment.
At Dow Honda in Little Italy, LiveWorkPlay’s outreach found open doors and open minds. General Manager Andrew Bearss realized that an individual with an intellectual disability could excel at an important task in his car service centre: counting and cataloging their immense inventory of spare parts. Andrew decided to give Royce a chance. “Royce is reliable, very detail-oriented … He’s turned out to be the perfect guy for this,” he says. “It’s saved us tremendous amounts of money by having him here.” Royce’s outstanding work performance led to being offered a part-time position as an Inventory Analyst.
In fact, Andrew’s high esteem for his employee inspired Dow Honda’s two partner dealerships and an Ottawa Volvo dealership to hire six more LiveWorkPlay participants. “Being paid well and living on my own – that makes me very happy,” says Royce.
The City of Ottawa is committed to ensuring its workforce is qualified and reflective of the community it serves. Since 2002 when Council approved the Equity and Diversity Policy, the City has had a plan in place to ensure equitable and inclusive employment policies, programs and practices. One of the diversity groups identified in the City’s Equity and Diversity Policy are people with disabilities.
In 2014, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department at the City of Ottawa needed to procure a new service provider for the canteen at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. With the support of the department’s General Manager and the Recreation Supervisor of the Terry Fox Athletic Facility, staff engaged a student studying at Carleton University to support the provision of canteen services through a social enterprise approach. She consulted with others to identify prospective service providers, develop a request for proposal, and coordinate an evaluation of the proposals received from interested service providers. The outcome was that two service providers – Causeway Work Centre, through its social enterprise Krackers Katering and Innovative Community Support Services (ICSS) – partnered to supply the canteen services. Causeway Work Centre is an EARN service provider partner.
Five individuals were employed by ICSS as a result of this partnership. Employees rated job skills acquired as valuable and highly rewarding. Causeway’s employees tended to be individuals who had prior work experience with their catering business, Krackers Katering; they experienced growth as the canteen operation offered a different work experience, the opportunity to acquire cash handling experience, customer service practices, dealing with pressure related to line ups, and ability to work as a team with ICSS staff. This story amply demonstrates the many positive benefits of partnership that can happen amongst EARN members and organizations in our community.
Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc.: The courage to take a risk pays off at EARN event
The PPRC team under the leadership of founder Linda Simpson helps people with visible and invisible disabilities to find gainful employment. Their support and expertise boosted job seeker Jennie’s self-confidence and she found her first full-time job in four years within a few days.
Jennie once worked as a teacher and as a project coordinator. Health issues left her in need of flexible work arrangements to deal with medical appointments. She left full-time work and took on contracts and freelance writing and editing from home. But Jennie is more of an extrovert who needs to stay engaged with other people. With her health improved she wanted to return to a full-time. As part of her engagement with PPRC, Jennie consented to have her resume circulated among various employer partners of EARN, and with courage she decided to take part in an EARN networking event.
Louise Reid, Manager, Talent Attraction and Acquisition for Hydro Ottawa, was a featured speaker at the EARN event. Jennie liked what she heard about opportunities with Hydro Ottawa’s Customer Service group. She submitted her resume and the next day, she got a call for an interview.
“Jennie was just the right person for the position we had,” said Louise. “During my presentation, she was so interested and engaged. The timing was great and she had the right aptitude for the opportunity.”
Shortly after Jennie began a six-month full-time contract, and her contract was subsequently extended to eighteen months.
Hydro Ottawa’s on-boarding practices assist job seekers like Jennie to reintegrate into full-time work. Hydro Ottawa uses these practices with all its new hires. Full briefings with the hiring manager before her first day of work, online training resources, regular orientation sessions and plenty of “elbow training” with an experienced co-worker, have all served new employees like Jennie well.
For Jennie, finding the right fit with an employer and a workplace culture was crucial. Her advice? An EARN networking event is a good place to start.
According to Jennie: “Organizations that are involved obviously believe in what EARN is doing and are strong advocates about creating opportunities for people.”
At Hydro Ottawa, diversity isn’t a buzzword, it’s a strategic priority, said Louise.
The utility, like most large organizations, is already feeling the pressure of skilled labour shortages in various areas. It has responded with a series of initiatives to expand the diversity of its workforce. One area of focus is persons with disabilities.
“Employers have to expand their lens, expand their thinking,” said Louise. “There is a richness of talent in places many often don’t think to look. EARN is a fantastic hub of matchmakers who will enthusiastically put you in touch with service providers like PPRC to find outstanding people for your team.”
“After two years on contract in two different positions with Hydro Ottawa (which all started from an EARN event), I was recently successful in a third job competition and am now working as the Administrative Assistant in Customer Service. I’m very happy to say that this position is full-time! Hydro Ottawa continues to utilize my varied skill set and focuses on my strengths and abilities.
I would also add that I am now on Hydro Ottawa’s Accessibility Committee which is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to help champion disability-related work issues.”