Celebrate IDPD at Work: Take Action, Remove Barriers

Thursday, November 29, 2012

YODA:  So certain are you. Always with you what 
             cannot be done. Do you nothing that I say.

LUKE:  Master, moving stones around is one thing, 
            this is totally different!

YODA:  NO! No different, only different in your mind! 
             You must unlearn what you have learned.

LUKE:  Alright, I’ll give it a try.

YODA: NO! Try Not. Do or do not.

Finding the right person for the right job in your organization is always a challenge. Compounding this situation is how Alberta is already experiencing strong economic growth and low unemployment levels, both of which create the possibility of a serious labour shortage in the near future.  In this environment, it is not uncommon for an organization to try and think “outside the box” in their recruiting strategy to access untapped pools of talent.

Just how far are you willing to go to find new talent? Often we take this challenge quite literally, which leads to us hiring from foreign countries and recruiting at universities all over the world to find the people we need. Other times we take the challenge more figuratively and we look for candidates who may not have the requisite experience or certification we generally expect, but who have transferable skills which can make them successful with the right guidance.

But what if there was an untapped pool of candidates that didn’t require you to look on the other side of the world or seek candidates who don’t have the qualifications you expect? What if the only thing preventing you from accessing this talent is your own perceptions or preconceived notions of what fits?

The talent pool I am talking about is skilled and qualified persons with disabilities.

The word disability can conjure up an endless amount of images. This is because the range of disabilities people experience is almost endless.  You may know someone who is blind and requires a cane to get around, but many people who are blind still have vision.  You may know a person with cerebral palsy who cannot walk, but each person with cerebral palsy can have vastly different symptoms. 

Similarly, the range of abilities of people with disabilities is diverse.  One of the biggest misconceptions we see is employers matching positions to disabilities. For example, thinking a person in a wheelchair is ideal for a desk job. Yet we know people with spinal cord injuries who work as travelling salesmen. We know people with anxiety disorders who thrive in high pressure environments. 

To truly think outside the box in your recruiting you have to first remove the limitations you may assign to a person because of their disability.

As Master Yoda says, “Try not. Do or do not.”

Trying implies giving something a chance and if it doesn’t work you can move on.  This doesn’t work for ethnicity, race or gender, nor does it work for people with disabilities in the workplace. Doing implies permanent and consistent action.  Doing implies actively seeking ways to remove barriers which may exist in the recruiting and hiring process. Most importantly, doing can position your organization for continued success with diversity and inclusion both now and into the future.


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