Celebrating the diverse abilities of Langley employees in the workplace

WorkBC hosted a breakfast, Thursday morning, to celebrate and support inclusive employers

At the home stretch of September, disability awareness month, WorkBC has kick-started an inclusive employer campaign to continue the conversation of diversity in the workplace.

October is inclusion month, an initiative WorkBC, Inclusion Langley, and the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) are marking with bright blue balloons.

If a local employer wishes to signify to the public and potential employees that they have or are open to hiring someone with a disability, these balloons are available to decorate businesses.

WorkBC held a breakfast Thursday morning, where 22 employers came to hear about different ways they could make their business more inclusive.

Questions periods, networking opportunities, and blue balloons were all made available as several speakers discussed ways employers can help foster inclusion.

Annette Borrows, president of CASE, spoke to the crowd about the stigmas many employers let stop them from hiring someone with a disability.

“What happens is one employer may hire fifty percent of their staff with people who has disabilities and another employer will see that and think ‘I don’t have the time’ or they feel that the problem of inclusivity has been taken care of,” Borrows said.

She discussed many different types of disabilities from mental health to physical handicaps, using her own brother who required the use of a wheel chair as an example. No matter the obstacle, Borrows illustrated that people’s hopes and goals are universal.

“Now, we are on a brink of a revelation to find meaning in our life,” Borrows continued. “We all want to have meaning and purpose in our job. The idea that people with a disability want to work in one industry is a fallacy; they want to be everything from welders to retirement facility care-workers – people with disabilities want to work everywhere and have that purpose too. They want to become service providers instead of only service users.”

Borrows noted that even smaller acts like installing an automatic door or providing clear and understandable information on products can go along way, pointing to a previous owner of the Mad Butcher in Abbotsford as an example.

Borrows said these adjustments, along with an inclusive hiring practise that led larger profits and a healthier environment.

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Patricia Elgersma, an HSBC project manager, was also one of the speakers at the breakfast who touched on finding work with a visual impairment.

“I know it sounds cliche, but don’t ever give up,” Elgersma said to anyone with a disability looking for work. “Don’t be afraid to advocate and develop those advocacy skills for yourself.”

Borrows estimates thousands of balloons – environmentally friendly she stressed – will float in front of businesses throughout October, acting evidence that people’s attitudes and views on differing abilities are changing.

“You will be left behind as a business in this wave of purpose,” Borrows warned. “We need to bring equal employment opportunities to everyone.”

Ines Montoya, business and community liaison at WorkBC, said their doors are always open at the Langley branch, 110-19925 Willowbrook Drive.

People can walk in without an appointment to seek help finding work or to have any questions about diversity and inclusivity answered.

Of course, Montoya added that the balloons will be there for employers to take anytime throughout October.

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