September is Disability Employment month in British Columbia, and the Career Centre is celebrating the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce, as well as the employers and communities that support their success. More than a half million British Columbians live with some form of disability including physical, mental and emotional.
Some barriers people with disabilities may face in the workplace include discrimination during the recruitment process, lack of disability awareness on the part of the employer, and an unwillingness to provide reasonable accommodations. During the hiring process employers are obligated to avoid inappropriate lines of questioning and to provide reasonable accommodation such as providing written materials in accessible formats and ensuring that all aspects of the application process can be held in accessible locations. Employers could hold false beliefs that employees with disabilities are less productive with lower capacity, costly, and harder to dismiss for underperformance. The fact is that people with disabilities represent a highly-skilled yet under-utilized pool of individuals that could supply the workforce demand that exists today. According to the Job Accommodation Network 57% of employees with disabilities cost their organizations nothing to accommodate with the majority of requests being for flexible work hours, requests for job redesign and requests for additional training. According to Statistics Canada, the most frequently required workplace accommodation was flexible work schedules in the form of modified hours or days, or reduced work hours.
If you have a disability and are seeking employment, you may be torn on whether to disclose your disability to the prospective employer. You are not legally required to disclose your disability if you do not need accommodations, but consider your strengths and barriers and apply for a position in which you will be successful. The publication, Disclosing Your Disability – A Legal Guide for People with Disabilities in BC produced by the Disability Alliance of BC, has great information on disclosing your disability and accommodations, including a table on the advantages and disadvantages of disclosure at various stages of your job search. Remember, employers may ask if you are able to meet the requirements of the job, although they legally cannot ask if you have a disability in an interview.
It requires resilience and courage to apply for and sustain employment, as well as fully participate in one’s community when faced with a life-changing disability. By focusing on what you have to offer because of the barriers you overcome, paired with the compassion, understanding and accommodation of employers, we can work together to have an inclusive community.
- Check out our workshops at the Career Centre such as “Branding You”
- Want to develop your personal resilience? Check-out this helpful guide and workbook:
- Other helpful resources to help you succeed: