Champions Career Centre: Proactive Mediation - Resolving Conflict in the Workplace Champions Career Centre: Diversity Champion Spotlight - Safeway Storcare Champions Career Centre: Two Reasons to Celebrate – New Funding Contract and Marketing Award Nomination Champions Career Centre: Richard’s Story: Believe in Yourself Champions Career Centre: National Mental Health Conference: February 27th Champions Career Centre: World-first: Canada leads the way with a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

What are other countries doing to make society more inclusive?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In Ecuador, the Vice President is starting a revolution.

Lenin Moreno is Ecuador’s Vice President and an inspiring leader. He’s been advocating for the Ecuador without barriers cause for 6 years. His phrase “disability is not inability” captures the essence of his efforts for a more inclusive society. He was born in 1953 in a small village in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 1998, he was victim of an assault and received a shot that damaged his spinal cord. That day he lost mobility of his legs and shortly after he had to learn how to use a wheelchair to get around.
At the beginning of his recovery he was confined to a bed. He was feeling a lot of pain but discovered that humor was an excellent analgesic. He started an organization inspired on the power of laughter and became a motivational speaker. In 2006, he was elected Vice President of Ecuador. Right away he started working on social programs with a special focus on inclusion of persons with disability.

He realized that in order to help people with disabilities he needed to know more about their current state and needs. He devised a program called Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission. It was the first time in the history of Ecuador that the government launched a research to study and register all people with disability nationwide.

Hundreds of doctors, geneticists, psychologist and public health specialists accompanied by soldiers and community guides travelled to the most remote and hidden villages of Ecuador. The goal of their visits was to register and provide medical care to a population that has been marginalized for years. This information helped the government develop state policies that covered multiple areas such as health, education and social welfare.

The mission turned out to be a crusade. The volunteers found critical cases of people with severe mental or physical disability that were living in an environment of poverty and abandonment. There was more work to be done and the Ecuadorian government responded immediately. That is how the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Mission was born.

This second stage of the inclusion program is devoted to registering and arranging a wage for the family caregiver or person who cares for the individual with severe disability. The Joaquín Gallegos Lara Mission now benefits 14 479 people who receive a monthly aid of $240 USD. The program also provides medicines, training in areas such as health, hygiene, rehabilitation, nutrition, self-esteem and rights and further undertakes to a permanent follow-up of the beneficiaries.

In 2012, Lenin Moreno was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for all his work. His efforts towards an inclusive society have been recognized worldwide.

After reading this inspiring story we hope you’ll share our motivation to emulate this inspiring Vice President across our own organizations.


Proactive Mediation - Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

We were fortunate enough to recently attend a Mental Health Mediation Breakfast hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Michelle Phaneuf from Reaching Enduring Agreements, and Marjorie Munroe from the Workplace Fairness Alberta.  The purpose of the breakfast was to improve the participants understanding of  workplace mediation and how it can be utilized to address a mental health issue or leave of absence from work.

The reality is that mental health issues, whether they are discussed or not, have an enormous impact on the workplace. 44% of employees in Canada report having experienced a mental health issue and almost 70% of all long term disability claims (and 78% of short term disability) are related to mental health issues. Returning to work can be a difficult process and mediation can help alleviate some of the concerns and get working relationships back on track. However, many employers and employees do not understand the mediation process.

The purpose of bringing in a mediator at work is to help create a safe space for collaborative and purposeful conversation. Using the PULSE framework for structuring conversations is one way to find solutions for difficult situations.

The PULSE framework consists of 5 steps:

1. Prepare - All parties discuss the process of mediation, their level of comfort with the process, and ensure confidentiality.

2. Uncover - Both parties discuss their purpose for being in the mediation and what they hope to resolve.

3. Learn - The mediator opens up the door to ideas and encourages each party to be open to the other's ideas. This is where an individual may disclose their disability and present possible accommodations.

4. Search - Both parties, with the mediator, brainstorm ideas for strategies and solutions.

5. Explain - A written action plan is developed with clear steps and specifics. Clear expectations of each party, and others if necessary, are agreed upon. The document outlines intentions and commitments to the future, ensuring everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.

For more info about the PULSE framework, or for more info on Proactive Mediation, please watch the video below or get in touch with the Pulse Institute.

Diversity Champion Spotlight - Safeway Storcare

Friday, February 01, 2013

Welcome to the launch of a new monthly feature where we recognize forward-thinking business leaders who embrace diversity and inclusion. We are delighted to introduce Safeway Storcare as our first Diversity Champion.

Safeway Storcare exemplifies a local business focused on creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace. The company is committed to hiring and retaining qualified employees with disabilities, but its vision wasn’t being met so Safeway Storcare reached out to Champions for help. For the past year, Champions has been auditing the company’s hiring and training practices to ensure successful employee placement.

The management team at Safeway Storcare has embraced the audit process and our recommendations. We worked on a retention plan with a candidate where we assessed the individual’s job tasks and work environment and made assistive technology recommendations which have been successfully implemented. Being inclusive means understanding the needs of all employees and Safeway Storcare goes the extra mile. Management and team leads have taken part in a Disability and Workplace Inclusion Session and the Human Resources Manager participated in our Diversity Champion Mentorship Initiative to understand recruiting and retaining employees with a disability.

Human Resources is immersed in the information gathering and sharing process and we are working together to create a successful candidate profile. Safeway Storcare is a warehouse where most job opportunities involve physical and sensory work.  Most new employees who are persons with disabilities are leaving the job before the three month probation ends. To learn more about why this is the case, we are developing an exit interview questionnaire specifically for individuals who are hired through various disability agencies and do not work out during the probation period, regardless if the decision to terminate employment is made by the employee themselves or by Storcare. In some cases Champions will also work as a third-party interviewer so the individual being interviewed will feel more at ease and able to talk more openly. The information gathered from these exit interviews will be used to improve hiring, training and communicating with persons with disabilities. It is hoped what is learned through this process can be shared across the Safeway chain to create more opportunities for persons with disabilities in other locations.

Champions Career Centre is currently assisting with job postings for Safeway Storcare to help the company succeed in its hiring goals. We applaud Safeway Storcare on its commitment to diversity and for helping Champions realize our vision of changing lives by creating inclusive workplaces.

We also want to acknowledge and congratulate Safeway Ltd. as a finalist for the 2013 Alberta Business Awards of Distinction in the category of Employer of Persons with Disabilities. The awards will be announced March 8th in Edmonton.

Two Reasons to Celebrate – New Funding Contract and Marketing Award Nomination

Friday, February 01, 2013

We are celebrating! Champions Career Centre has been awarded a new two-year contract by Alberta Human Services to deliver employment services to Calgarians with disabilities and to employers interested in expanding their diversity and inclusion goals in the face of current labour shortages.

“We are delighted to receive the vote of confidence from Alberta Human Services to carry on the great work we have been doing in the community for the past 12 years,” said Lisa Moon, Champions’ Executive Director. “We have made substantial progress changing workplace perceptions about the tremendous value of people with disabilities, but there is still much to be done. One in six Albertans lives with a disability, so demand for our help is huge.”

Since Champions opened its doors over 35,000 clients have accessed our employment services. Our success is based on our “goal setting, person centred” approach allowing us to customize our services based on the needs of our clients. We recognize that each client is unique in how their disability impacts them and the accommodations they may require in the workplace. Clients tell us Champions is a supportive environment. Employers tell us Champions helps by keeping their bottom-line in mind. Both tell us they appreciate how we create a truly customized approach to all we do.

Champions’ services are provided at no cost to both employee candidates and employers. Government support is essential. Every funding proposal we submit competes with other service agencies, but with the Alberta Government warning budget cuts are looming our request faced increased scrutiny. This two-year commitment proves our services are recognized as unique and necessary and that the Government of Alberta supports our vision to change lives by creating inclusive workplaces and strong communities.

Champions has also been selected as a finalist for the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction Marketing Award. Our marketing campaign in 2012 was directed at raising the profile of our organization to attract and increase the amount of clients and employers accessing our services. All of our marketing efforts are part of our ongoing commitment to shift the perception of disabilities in the workplace and our community.

Our objectives to raise our profile to attract and increase clients and employers delivered impressive results. We recorded a 40% increase in the amount of people signing up for our employment services over the same period the year previous.  With employers, we saw a 40% growth in the number of businesses accessing our disability awareness and inclusion sessions, an 80% increase in the available positions posted on the Champions website, and a 35% increase in phone calls to assist with employment retention.

To increase our client base, we targeted job seekers and people who may be struggling in their current role at work because of a disability.  Our tagline, “Redefining Ability in the Workplace”, included a message that breaks down misconceptions about disabilities.  We utilized transit ads, TV spots, and placed ads in grocery stores and in post-secondary institutions. To attract employers Champions placed ads in targeted publications and reached out directly to build or strengthen relationships.

“We are deeply honoured to be acknowledged for the work our team does every day to change lives in the community,” Moon said. “We worked hard in 2012 to change workplace perceptions, and we are delighted to be recognized for our efforts.” Moon credits Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator Rod Ruff with developing the campaign leading to the nomination. “Rod has done an outstanding job engaging with the community and introducing us to thousands of Calgarians,” she said. “We are very lucky to have him.”
The Awards will be announced March 8, 2013 at the Alberta Chamber of Commerce gala dinner in Edmonton.

Richard’s Story: Believe in Yourself

Friday, February 01, 2013

Looking for work can be difficult. Looking for work when your head is filled with thoughts of how you can’t make it, can’t be successful, and will never hold down a job would make most people stay in bed and never try. Not Richard. Richard is an adult with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) without the hyperactivity.  For most of his life Richard had doctors and professionals telling him he would never graduate from high school, never be able to be successful at a job. The ‘never do’s’ were adding up, outnumbering the ‘can do’s’ Richard knew he was capable of achieving.

“When I was looking for work, my self-esteem was really low,” says Richard. “With the constant rejection from employers, I started to believe that maybe the professionals were right and I was never going to be successful in landing a job”.

If Richard had let the negative talk win, and stopped reaching for success, his story likely would have been very different. Instead Richard kept going and discovered Champions Career Centre. There, he learned to assess, appreciate and take advantage of the things he ‘can do’, quieting the ‘never do’ discussion in his head.

“Champions was the only place where people were telling me that I could do something and that they could help me figure out what those things were,” says Richard.

At Champions Richard received the training, advice and support he needed to set short and long term goals. Training involved practical job seeking assistance, like how to tweak his resume to focus on his strengths, skills and abilities and present himself as a qualified job candidate. Advice included how to talk to potential employers and how to effectively disclose his disability. Support meant encouraging words, constructive feedback and a place to belong.

“All those skills were great and they helped me land a job I really enjoy,” says Richard. “But the greatest gift Champions gave me was the feeling of acceptance.”

Today, Richard is gainfully employed with a local Security company having just completed his Alberta Basic Security Training course to become a Security Professional. “As far as I know, there aren’t too many people with disabilities working in security,” says Richard. “This comes with many more challenges, which I gladly take on to prove the professionals wrong.”

By working with Community Partners and employers, Champions Career Centre helps break down the barriers to employment, so that individuals like Richard can find and maintain meaningful employment.

National Mental Health Conference: February 27th

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Canadian Mental Health Association is appealing to executives, human resource professionals and employees invested in workplace psychological health and safety to attend an upcoming conference. National Bottom Line Conference – Calgary Perspective is the first-ever national Bottom Line Conference with satellite locations across the country.

The February 27th day-long conference features experts in the area workplace mental health including Dr. Joti Samra, a passionate advocate for psychological health and safety in the workplace. Some will recognise Dr. Samra as the host of “Million Dollar Neighbourhood”, a popular series on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Delegates will also hear a first-hand account of dealing with depression from well-known, nationally acclaimed Canadian sports journalist Michael Landsberg. He’s endured a14-year battle with depression and now considers helping reduce the stigma of mental illness as his most important professional calling.

Champions will have a presence at the conference as a delegate, exhibitor and presenter.Lori James, our Client Services Manager, will be addressing the business advantage of disability and accommodation. The New National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace will be hot topic, and attendees will hear from Mary Ann Baynton, Co-Chair, Technical Committee for the Standard on what it means for Calgary businesses.

National Bottom Line Conference – Calgary Perspective will be held at the Metropolitan Conference Centre, 333 – 4 Avenue SW. You can follow the link below for more information and to register, there is discount for groups and non-profit individual registration.

World-first: Canada leads the way with a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

Friday, February 01, 2013

Many Canadian companies offer first aid programs like CPR training but the Mental Health Commission of Canada has a new challenge for employers: to train workers in mental health first aid.

“One in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or mental illness in any given year and many of the most at risk individuals are in their early working years. Canadians spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else,” says MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley. “It’s time to start thinking about mental well-being in the same way as we consider physical well-being, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace.”

Poor mental health costs our country $50 billion per year as 500,000 Canadians can’t go to work each day due to mental illness. To combat the issue MHCC, the Bureau denormalisation du Québec (BNQ), and CSA Group created Canada’s first national standard designed to improve workplace psychological health and safety. Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation is a practical guide covering the issues and laying out the steps companies and employees can take to improve psychological health in their work environment.

“This voluntary national standard is the result of a collaborative effort between MHCC, BNQ and CSA
Group, and is supported by scientific literature from many relevant areas of workplace health and
safety, social science, and law. There is also a clear business case which supports the need for continual improvement of psychological health and safety in the workplace,” says Bonnie Rose, President, Standards, CSA Group. “Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety have improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, and a better financial outlook.”

The Standard takes the highly complex issue of workplace psychological health and safety and boils it down to easy-to-follow implementation steps. The plan is designed for any-sized company, small operations with as few as 10 employees to large organizations with as many as 10,000 workers. The three pillars of success are prevention of harm, promotion of health and resolution of incidents.

The first step to success is assessment. Companies need to determine where the gaps are in psychological safety in their workplace. There is a flow chart identifying the 13 workplace psychological risk factors including organizational structure, psychological job demands, and growth and development.

There is a flow chart describing the implementation process starting with building leadership commitment, and finishing with developing an accountability structure. All the tools to successfully navigate the process are presented, including suggested videos, power point presentations, and informational links. It’s a step-by-step guide for companies to take a positive, inclusive approach to promote psychological health and prevent psychological harm due to workplace factors.

”This Standard will help enable organizations to introduce measures that will assist them in meeting
important internal objectives such as the promotion and protection of workers’ well-being, job
satisfaction, self-esteem and job fulfilment – objectives which have been clearly shown to also lead to
improvement in the ‘bottom line’,” says Jean Rousseau, BNQ Director.

If human needs like security, belonging, self-worth and self-esteem go unmet they can become risk factors for psychological distress. Workplace mental health is the shared responsibility of employers and employees. This process is designed to involve everyone and compliment the human resources and current health and safety policies in organizations. Starting the process is easy by developing a policy statement around workplace psychological health and safety and appointing a workplace champion to lead the cause.
For more information: Visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

*Co-chair of the Technical Committee for the Standard, Mary Ann Baynton, will be in Calgary February 27th to discuss how the Standard affects Calgary businesses. Her speech is part of a day-long mental health conference hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association. For further details on the conference you can click on the link below.