Over 60 participants attended the 2nd workshop in the AIM “Candidly Speaking” series: “How Does it Work?” on Wednesday June 6th, 2012. Representatives from companies in many industries including finance, retail, manufacturing and tourism filled the room on the 29th Floor of the TD Canada Trust Building.

This workshop centred on a dynamic discussion about hiring and working with individuals with disabilities following presentations from two speakers, Jamie Millar-Dixon and Melanie Caple. Jamie recently headed a project focused on accelerating the workforce inclusion of people with disabilities in BC’s Tourism & Hospitality Industry.

Jamie presented the realities of building an inclusive workforce on the principle that motivation + demand + action + supply are all integral to employing people with disabilities. This presentation was followed by a personal story from one of the advisory committee members from AIM, Melanie Caple, who lives with an acquired brain injury.

Discussions then took place within small breakout groups prompted by the presentations and the following questions:

  • What resonated with you from the presentations and how can you apply this to your hiring practices?
  • How can you overcome the challenges of hiring persons with disabilities?
  • What discretionary effort can you use to hire a more diverse workforce?
  • How would a diverse workforce better serve your business objectives?

The morning concluded with a look at a local example of best practice in hiring an individual with a disability. Dana Lee and Alexis Chicoine from Arc’teryx, an outdoor clothing manufacturer based in North Vancouver, spoke of the importance of matching abilities with an available position. Alexis works in the Arc’Teryx IT department, is a person with quadriplegia and is on the AIM Advisory committee. Dana is her supervisor. They explained that a collaborative, open approach led to a successful hire for both parties.

Participants were encouraged to leave with ‘one big idea’ to implement in their hiring and recruitment process. The “Candidly Speaking” series sparks new ideas and strategies to assist companies to be on the cutting edge of fostering an inclusive workforce.