September is Disability Employment Month, highlighting the significant role people with disabilities play in British Columbia’s workforce, while also promoting resources and tools employers can use to reduce barriers to inclusion and build better, more accessible workplaces.
“Government has long helped B.C. businesses address challenges and obstacles to providing equal access for people with disabilities – challenges that have been magnified by the day-to-day difficulties of COVID-19,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “As we work on addressing the economic impacts of the pandemic, we remain committed to providing services and programs that give employers effective tools to hire, train and promote people with disabilities, so that they have equal opportunities to contribute to B.C.’s economic recovery.”
Creating workplace cultures that value inclusion and diversity means working together with the private sector. This ensures the ongoing development of programs and initiatives that help businesses in B.C. as they lead the way to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
In recognition of Disability Employment Month, Small Business BC is hosting AccessAbility Month in partnership with the Presidents Group, Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. Throughout September, 17 webinars will be offered covering topics such as business planning, financial research and market research. On Sept. 25, the Presidents Group will present a webinar focused on the funding and supports available to employers in the province. Each webinar will have American sign language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning.
“Small Business BC exists to assist entrepreneurs overcome barriers to grow successful and sustainable businesses,” said Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC. “During AccessAbility Month in September, we celebrate business owners and employees with disabilities who meet those challenges head on.”
The AccessAbility Month webinars can be accessed for free through the Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. In addition, Presidents Group is also offering two free accessible webinars for business owners and hiring managers on workplace accommodations and the case for inclusive hiring.
“As a small business owner myself, the value of an inclusive workplace is clear. Through our bakery, we’ve created a place of belonging and inclusivity where individuals with autism and other disabilities have contributed immensely to our business, to the benefit of our whole community,” said Lisa Beecroft, owner, Gabi and Jules Homemade Pies and Baked Goodness, and co-chair, Presidents Group. “Presidents Group helps businesses of all sizes across B.C. become more inclusive employers. We’re excited to be partnering with Small Business BC during Disability Employment Month to ensure accessibility within all their content during AccessAbility Month.”
Through WorkBC, the Province provides a range of services and initiatives to support people with disabilities to develop new workplace skills and access work experience and employment opportunities. Last year, through Community and Employer Partnerships, more than $1.4 million was provided to over 250 clients with disabilities through projects that focused on improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities. With Assistive Technology Services contracts, WorkBC also provides assistive technology needed to overcome disability-related barriers in the workplace.
Through employment planning, specialized assessments, placement services and many other supports, WorkBC ensures employment resources are available to people with disabilities and employers.
- More than 926,100 British Columbians aged 15 to 64 years, almost 25% of the population, identify as having a disability.
- Almost 90% of consumers prefer companies that employ people with disabilities, according to a study cited in a 2012 Conference Board of Canada report.
- The provincial government offers services and programs that support job seekers and employees with disabilities and employers who want to build an inclusive workplace, including through WorkBC Employment Services, WorkBC Apprentices Services and WorkBC Assistive Technology Services.
- There are 102 WorkBC centres in communities throughout the province that offer a range of employment services and financial supports for British Columbians, including people with disabilities. WorkBC.ca also offers 24/7 access through Online Employment Services, where individuals may apply for various services, supports and financial assistance.
- Presidents Group, a group of B.C. business leaders, are encouraging and supporting employers across different sectors to hire more people with disabilities: www.accessibleemployers.ca
Small Business BC AccessAbility Month: https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/accessibility-month-returns-to-sbbc-this-september/
Sign up for the Presidents Group webinars at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/presidents-group-17645760693
Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program: https://www.communityfutures.ca/edp
Resources for job seekers with disabilities: www.WorkBC.ca/Accessibility
WorkBC Assistive Technology Services: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Assistive-Technology-Services.aspx
For employers wanting to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, visit: http://accessibleemployers.ca/
Provincial government services for people with disabilities in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services
Disability Employment Month 2020 declaration: https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/DisabilityEmploymentMonth2020