Champions Career Centre: I Went Offline for 5 Weeks, This is What I Learned Champions Career Centre: Can your workplace encourage good nutrition? Champions Career Centre: ACCD Education for Life Bursary Champions Career Centre: Disability Awareness: Post Concussion Syndrome Champions Career Centre: Safeway Meet and Greet, March 27th Champions Career Centre: Persons with Disabilities More Likely to be Bullied in the Workplace Champions Career Centre: New Hand, New Opportunities Champions Career Centre: Disability & Accommodation: Your Business Advantage Champions Career Centre: Diversity Champions: An Interview with Home Depot Champions Career Centre: Champions Career Centre: Join Sponsor Energy and Support Champions with Your Utility Bill

Epilepsy in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today is Purple Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy worldwide. Although nearly 1% of the population in Canada lives with epilepsy - roughly 300,000 people with an additional 14,000 people being diagnosed every year - many misconceptions about epilepsy still exist.

Epilepsy is not a disease but rather a collection of symptoms that manifest themselves through recurrent seizures. While there are some medical interventions that can limit seizures, about 30% of people living with epilepsy cannot control when they have them. This can have ramifications in the workplace, both for hiring people with epilepsy and working alongside them. 

According to the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance, for persons living with epilepsy,

"the unemployment rate is double that of the general population. Under-employment is also a serious problem: about 40 per cent are not given jobs that fully use their skills. A Canadian National Population Health Survey conducted in 1994/1995 showed that only 40 per cent of adults (16 years of age and over) with chronic epilepsy were employed."

According to the CEA, there are many reasons for their unemployment and underemployment:

"The central issues are lack of knowledge about the disorder and epilepsy's perceived impact in the workplace. This ignorance and resulting misunderstanding produce unnecessary fear and anxiety among both employees with epilepsy and employers. Specific concerns regarding disclosure, accommodation, safety and liability then arise, and a vicious circle ensues. 

Workers with epilepsy face negative and uninformed attitudes, outright (and illegal) discrimination, sometimes unnecessary driving requirements, fear of repercussions after disclosing and under-utilization of their skills. On the other hand, employers worry about productivity, absenteeism, liability, job performance, reaction of customers or co-workers, accommodation costs and workplace safety."

Knowledge about epilepsy and education of all people in the workplace, from recruiters to executives to co-workers, remain the greatest weapon for combating misconceptions about epilepsy. The Epilepsy Association of Calgary provides free education sessions to employers on understanding what a seizure is, how to help, and how to provide support to a person with epilepsy.

Workplace accommodations for persons living with epilepsy are often inexpensive and only require a flexible and creative mindset. Flicker free monitors, deep arm rests, rubber matting, padded edges on desks and safety guards on machinery are all examples of easy to implement accommodations. Knowing which accommodations to use requires open and honest discussion between an employee and their employer, and asking assistance from outside sources when needed.

Purple Day is all about raising awareness about epilepsy, but working to remove barriers and misconceptions about epilepsy in the workplace is how you can truly make an impact every day of the year.

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I Went Offline for 5 Weeks, This is What I Learned

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The anti-modern switch - I am downgrading. 

Earlier this week, I shared my story about missing work for several months after being in a ski accident and the unfortunate recipient of a concussion. My fifth mild traumatic brain injury, I suffered from fairly serious Post Concussion Syndrome and still have some lingering symptoms.

When I was able to return to the office, my doctor would only allow me to work part-time for five weeks to ease my brain back into activity. As part of this arrangement, he asked me to not use screens or the internet in my spare time. The logic being that I would already be using a screen for most of my time at work and that resting after work should include a break from this kind of activity. 

This was almost unfathomable for someone who loves to be connected. My job position is in Marketing and Communications, which is a dream for me as I love technology, social media, and digital life. I have always believed that technology is an extension of ourselves, and that how we use technology is more a reflection of ourself than a problem with technology. I've never blamed the phone for the person who won’t stop texting at the dinner table - it’s the person who is being a jerk. So whenever someone has asked me if I’d ever consider unplugging, my answer has usually been to scoff at the mere suggestion.

However, I was curious as to what I would learn from an internet hiatus, and also hopeful that it may help with my healing process and return to work. So here it is..  An epic journey from hyper-connectivity to the doldrums, mundanity and refreshment of an unplugged life. I will try to convey my expectations, lessons learned, disappointments, and ultimately, what the future holds.

I don’t think there is a way to convey this all succinctly, so it is going to be a long read, but maybe that is fitting considering the 140 character lifestyle I was eschewing. At the very least it will serve as a good reminder to myself in the future.

A quick note about of how I was connected during this time: Since I was half time at work, we had a volunteer come on to take over our social media activities, meaning my time at work generally consisted of email, meetings and strategic planning. I also stopped using text and instant messaging (Gtalk) as this is no different than using a mobile device for internet use. 


I didn’t have any expectations going into this as it wasn’t really my idea, or my choice. This isn’t like giving up booze or junk food where I could expect to lose weight or sharpen my mind and wits by laying off the sauce. However, after one day of not using the internet, I decided to write down some possibilities and expected outcomes from my hiatus. I think addressing these expectations one by one is the best way to talk about what I learned through this process, so here we go, in no particular order…

1. I expect to feel better. 

Rest is the most important thing for concussion recovery. That being said, sitting at home all day and not being able to read, exercise or engage in long conversations is not easy. Picking up a tablet or phone and surfing mindlessly was an easy way to pass the time prior to my internet hiatus. I was skeptical that giving up internet time would help me feel better, but I think it did. Maybe it was just more time that helped, but I feel much, much better today than I did five weeks ago.

2. I expect to be a maniac.

You want to talk about withdrawal symptoms? Try turning the mobile data and text messaging off on your phone. I still carried my phone - as I wanted voice calls - but the first few days of no data or sms were characterized by what I would call “notification frenzy”. Notification frenzy is the constant desire or urge to check your phone for a missed alert. Similarly, it took a few days before I would stop feeling the urge to click my Facebook bookmark on my computer at work. Thankfully it eventually passed, but it was quite an eye opener to how crazily connected I was.

3. I expect to be bored. 

No doubt. Man, did I get bored. The unfortunate thing about this entire process is that I am still dealing with some serious mental and physical limitations due to my injury. So I couldn’t spend the five weeks reading twenty novels or working out like a fiend. Most of my days were still characterized by fatigue and the need to rest as I ramped up my work schedule. At the same time, I found that when I can’t kill boredom with mindless Facebook/Twitter/Web surfing, it opens up a fair amount of time for other things.

4. I expect to become more aware of my surroundings.

This definitely occurred, but not to the extent I had hoped because I am still very much a mush-head. Not having my face buried in a device all the time definitely opened up my eyes to what was going on around me. Ironically, when this first started happening my first inclination was to tweet, instagram, or text what I was seeing to others. Eventually I learned to just enjoy these simple moments for myself, which was one of my favourite learnings of the whole hiatus.

5. I expect to become more aware of the people around me. 

Uh yeah. I really began to start relishing time spent talking to people, whether in-person or on the phone. And I will say this - I would have never typified my group of friends as being unengaged or consumed by their phones in the past, but trying to spend time with people when they are constantly on their phones can be maddening. There were many times when I wanted to grab a friend’s phone and chuck it into a brick wall. Obviously, this was largely me projecting my current state on to my friends, but this led to probably my biggest lesson from going offline…

No more text messaging.

A quick caveat - I have long been known to be a horrendous person to speak to on the phone. Many a girlfriend has lashed out at this shortcoming (among many other shortcomings), so it was a rather ambitious step to force people to call me.

Not texting for five weeks was an epiphany. Actually talking to people when they call is not only refreshing, it prevents having to spend ten times the amount of time trying to convey the same message via text. Yes, there were times when it was inconvenient to call - like when I had to reschedule a meeting with three different dudes and had to call each of them - but these times were the exception.

When I watched people get lost in their phones when I was hanging out with them, it was almost always because they were texting others. Prior to my hiatus I would have defended this kind of activity, after all they are probably just staying connected with a friend or maybe even inviting them out to join us. The thing is, a simple phone call could sort all of it out in less than 30 seconds and wouldn’t require interrupting a real life conversation every two fucking minutes.

*In the last month I spent 588 minutes talking on the phone, and sent 3 text messages - all in response to my boss. Compare that to 63 minutes and 912 texts the month before.*

There were a lot people I didn’t get talk to this month because we didn’t text, but the people I did get to talk with more than made up for it. You can learn a lot more about a friend, and what is actually going on in their life, through two minutes on a phone than through 50 texts. So sayonara SMS!

7. I expect to become more focused. 

Yes and no. At work, not having to do social media meant I could really focus on a mile long to-do list. There is a line of thinking out there that multi-tasking is actually inefficient and makes us less productive and more stressed. I was amazed at how much I could accomplish at work by tackling tasks one at a time. In my home life, I didn’t notice much of a difference.

8. I expect to become more critically engaged.

Not Googling everything is hard. Really hard. Recipes, inane facts, directions, how-to videos are all just a click away. Not searching online forced me to either learn on my own, or enlist the help of others to do certain things. For example, I used some of the spare time I had to refinish the furniture in our house. Ordinarily, I would have googled the hell out of it to figure out what to do and avoided asking or engaging others for help. Instead, I had to rely on the advice of others, Home Depot people, and brainstorming between Kate and myself. I think this made us more prone to mistakes, but it also made it more of a learning process and ultimately more rewarding.

9. I expect to lose weight.

Negative. I may have stopped the onslaught of pounds from two months couch time though, so maybe that is a small win.

10. I expect to experience new places.

A little. I managed to spend some time at the public library - I needed a woodworking book after all, but aside from that I was generally limited to staying close to home. I may have also gotten a small taste of Italy by learning how to make sausage from some crazy old Italians.

11. I expect to learn new ways of doing things. 

Definitely. As mentioned above with the furniture and sausage making, relying on other peoples expertise is something I could definitely learn to do more.

12. I expect to have some of the basic assumptions of how I live my life challenged.

Oh boy. I am still sorting this one out.

There are lots of things I missed. I do miss the people who would only contact me via text. I miss Twitter. I miss THE NEWS - I am a news junkie and love reading all different perspectives on happenings around the world. Being limited to local newspapers is a huge change from being able to access all the various news sites, blogs and alternative media available online.

However, I can’t overstate how thoroughly I enjoyed being unplugged. As I have slowly gone back online over the past few days I feel like I am giving something up more than I am getting something back. My phone has been whistling at me non-stop since I started writing this post, which is a total aggravation.

So yes, my basic assumptions are gone. Deciding on how to move forward is still up in the air.

13. I expect my closest relationships to improve. 

Getting to talk, via voice, to my closest friends and family on the phone every day was a huge treat. Strange thing, I remember an old friend who used to call me every Monday morning for just two minutes to check in and catch up. I used to really enjoy it, and genuinely appreciated the thought that went into doing it every week. A sincere thank you to all those that called me over the past five weeks, you literally made my day with each call.

14. I expect my relationship with my girlfriend to improve.

My girlfriend doesn’t want me to go back online. She called the last five weeks the “best five weeks of our relationship”. At times she called me a different person, and in a good way! So maybe this should be reason enough to not plug back in.

Strangely enough, I found myself resenting her every time she used her phone or computer during this time. Basically, I didn’t appreciate the interruptions! This may be a level of attentiveness that maybe she isn’t comfortable with, imagine that!

15. I expect to be disappointed. 

I have learned over and over in my life that there is no panacea to personal development. Which is saying something for someone who used to be a “born again” religious person. There is no magic switch that gets flicked and I become the man I want to be. There is only striving, then apathy, then disappointment, and then trying again…

Hopefully, coming out a little bit better than I was before.

I didn’t write every day, I didn’t exercise every day, I didn’t enter a level of spiritual consciousness that I was heretofore unaware of. But I do feel I learned a little bit more about myself, about what really matters to me, and maybe just a touch more of what I really want out of life.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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Can your workplace encourage good nutrition?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We’ve heard many times how important it is to eat healthy and we might be trying to set aside time to prepare healthy meals. But, does our busy work life let us take care of our nutrition?

There are some days when we have so much work that we hardly have time to eat. We tend to choose snacks and lunch options that are quick and easy to prepare. Quick food is often not the healthiest option and if we mix it with stress we’ll have the recipe for disease.

Having a workplace nutrition program can help motivate all members of an organization to eat healthy during their workday and even take some time to learn how to improve their nutrition. Research has shown that good nutrition can help lower the risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis1.

These are some activities you could start at your workplace to promote good nutrition:
  • Start a healthy eating campaign to inform employees
  • Offer nutrition counseling
  • Promote a workplace healthy food policy
  • Have healthy food available for your employees
  • Offer a healthy food cooking class
  • Motivate your managers and directors to lead by example

Where to start?

Healthy eating initiatives should be part of a complete workplace health program. You’ll need to find a nutrition champion or coordinator among your employees who would be in charge of good nutrition activities. All employees should be invited to participate but their involvement should remain voluntary. You might find it useful to circulate a quick survey to help you learn about what your employees need and what activities they would be interested in.

Make sure your plan for a healthy eating initiative has a clear target determined and has activities happening periodically. Also make the effort to market it correctly: make it fun, spread the word with everybody and walk the talk!

Here you will find some ideas on how to start a healthy eating campaign at your workplace:

Eat Smart Move More Campaign


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ACCD Education for Life Bursary

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are you looking to attend post-secondary education? Could you use some extra money to help pay for tuition and books? 

(Well, who really couldn't use more money at college or university?)

The Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities, or ACCD, is giving away several bursaries to Albertans with disabilities who are looking to upgrade their education. This is an excellent chance to make going to school a little easier and all full and part time post-secondary students are eligible. 

The deadline is June 30th and we wanted to encourage all those people in Alberta who are living with a disability and wanting to go to school to apply. 

You can find all the details on how to apply at the ACCD Education for Life website. 

Disability Awareness: Post Concussion Syndrome

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is me doing some safer skiing. 

Hello again everyone, it has been some time since we did a Disability Awareness blog. For some background, every Monday morning at Champions we have a staff member give a presentation on a certain disability and what accommodations may be required for a person living with that condition to succeed in the workplace. Many times, we will have a client who may have this condition and the learning session helps all of us here understand their position a little better.

From there, I generally take what I learn and post it here on the Champions blog as an info piece for our followers.

Unfortunately, I was in a skiing accident three months ago which left me severely concussed, unable to work and thus unable to continue my blogging activities at Champions. So in an ironic twist, after months of writing about the vast array of disabilities which exist, I acquired a disability of my own. 

This was the fifth concussion of my life and thus I am no stranger to Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). It was after my third concussion - getting struck with an errant golf ball - that I first felt long term symptoms after a brain injury. Most people will experience many of the symptoms associated with PCS for 7-10 days after their concussion. However, in some first time cases, and for people with repeated head injuries, the symptoms can persist much longer. 

So while I am familiar with the aftermath of dealing with a concussion, the fact that this was my fifth mild traumatic brain injury meant the symptoms were much more severe and longer lasting. The severity of the symptoms also meant that for the first time in my life I was unable to work. 

My symptoms included persistent headaches, constant dizzines/fogginess, irritability, inability to concentrate, poor memory and extreme sensitivity to noise and light. Indeed, for the first month of my injury, I was often confined to lying in a dark and quiet room. The need for constant rest - often in dark spaces - can cause many people living with PCS to become anxious and depressed. While I avoided depression, I did struggle periodically with anxiety and paranoia. 

I once had a person describe living with PCS as being similar to when Frodo puts on the Ring of Power in Lord of the Rings. For myself, I felt like I was living in a permanent state of being hungover/half drunk. I knew I was in trouble when I tried to go to work a few days after suffering my concussion and I walked halfway there before realizing I hadn't put on a belt or put my contact lenses in. 

The hardest part of dealing with PCS is that the only real way to heal is through rest. Laying on a couch for days at a time was very frustrating when  I was accustomed to working, playing hockey, skiing and being generally very social and active. What became even more frustrating is that as I rested and my symptoms began to subside, doing too much activity could cause them to immediately return. I ended up having to walk a tightrope of knowing what I could and couldn't do, or what was just too much. This meant many times I felt I could do things which I clearly shouldn't have done, and then paid the price later. When I first tried to return to work, even for just a half a day, I ended up being back in bed for four days afterwards. 

It has now been over three months since my accident and I am finally returning to work full time. I am fortunate in that most of my severe symptoms have passed. However, I am still dealing with lingering memory and concentration problems. I have to write everything I do, and need to do, on paper now, and even then I can be extremely forgetful. I can't read more than a page of a novel at a time. I still don't feel anywhere near the person I was a few months ago. I begin occupational therapy next week and hopefully I can relearn, or learn new ways, of how to think/concentrate/memorize. 

As part of my healing process, my family doctor asked me to not use computer screens and the internet for 5 weeks. Amazingly enough I was able to do it, and you can read my thoughts on it here. 

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Safeway Meet and Greet, March 27th

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are you interested in starting a career with Canada Safeway?

Canada Safeway will be at the Champions Career Centre office on Wednesday, March 27th, for a brief presentation about their company and opportunities available in their stores. They will be recruiting mainly for NW Calgary stores, but will take resumes for other locations and pass them along.

If you are interested in attending or would like more information please contact us by calling 403.265.5374 or email

Please arrive at least ten minutes before the session and remember to bring your resume with you.

Date: March 27th, 2013

Time: 1:30 pm

Champions Career Centre
Suite 650, 839 5th Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta

Persons with Disabilities More Likely to be Bullied in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A few stories over the last few weeks have brought the issue of bullying and disabilities back into the spotlight.

Last week, up and coming Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino retired from women's professional tennis, citing the need to focus on her personal life. Marino has been dealing with depression for many years and has seen her enjoyment and passion for tennis slowly diminish over the years. Stepping away from tennis is going to allow her to focus on her mental health and find new passions in life.

One of the interesting notes from her story was the role that cyber-bullies played in compounding her struggle against depression. While adamant that the role of online bullies wasn't the main factor in her becoming disenchanted with life in public eye, it certainly played a part. Fans, internet trolls and gamblers took to using social media to berate her endlessly, going as far to criticize her appearance and even suggest she would be better off dead.

While most of us don't work on a grass court in front of thousands of people, the bullying of persons with disabilities in the workplace has been a sad reality for a long time. New research released today highlights just how rampant workplace bullying of persons with disabilities is.

Researchers from Cardiff University examined responses to interview questions given by 3,979 people, 284 of them with physical or psychological disabilities, or long-term illness. Among the 284:

  • 10.5% said they had suffered physical violence at work, compared with 4.5% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 7.4 % said they had been injured at work as a result of aggression, compared with 3.5% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 12.3% said they had been humiliated or ridiculed at work, compared with 7.4% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 24.3% said they had been insulted at work, compared with 14.3% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 34.5% said they had been shouted at, compared with 23.1% of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
This kind of abuse can seriously compound symptoms or issues related to a person's disability, and then serve to reinforce negative conceptions of that same person's productivity at work. This study should serve as yet another eye-opener as to the importance of creating psychologically healthy workplaces which remove misconceptions about disabilities. 

New Hand, New Opportunities

Monday, March 04, 2013

Last fall we shared the story of one of our clients, Rick McAlister, who had secured a full time job working at the order desk with Ecco Heating in Calgary. His story, Successfully Navigating Life's Twists and Turns, is one of our most popular client success stories. His honest account of the struggle of learning to live with his disability, rejection, and understanding what he could do is something that all of us can relate to. His story even attracted mainstream media attention, as Rick was profiled in the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, where he discussed the challenges of finding employment in Alberta.

Last week Rick emailed us with an update - he had been fitted with a new prosthetic, and not just any prosthetic, but the bebionic3! Touted as the most advanced commercially available bionic hand in the world, the bebionic3 is the result of many years of development and has the potential to transform the lives of amputees. 

Rick sent us a quick video of him demonstrating the hand, which is posted below. He is very excited to get back to work with his new arm and thinks the new technology will help him be even more productive than before.

To learn more about the bebionic3 hand please visit or you can view this more in-depth video of how the arm works and the tasks it can achieve:

Disability & Accommodation: Your Business Advantage

Monday, March 04, 2013

We would like to give a serious thank you and shout out to the Canadian Mental Health Association for hosting their National Bottom Line Conference on February 27th. The team at Champions was excited to join thousands of other people nationwide to discuss workplace mental health and it was our honour to be involved as delegates, exhibitors and presenter at the Conference.

Our own Lori James, Client Services Manager, gave a presentation at the conference titled Disability and Accommodation: Your Business Advantage. In her presentation, Lori highlighted the costs of not addressing mental health in the workplace and how accommodating persons with mental illnesses is not only the right decision, but a smart business decision.

So what makes accommodating individuals with a mental health issue the right business decision? Let's look at the numbers...

  • 500,000 Canadians are absent from work each day, on average, due to mental health reasons
  • 1 in 6 Albertans have a disability
  • In Canada in 1998, $6.3 Billion dollars was spent on uninsured mental health services & time off work for depression & distress that was not treated by the health care system
  • The average cost and time for dealing with a mental health issue at work is 67 days and costs in excess of $10 000 
Building a psychologically healthy workplace can foster employee well-being and health while also embracing an organization's need for performance and productivity. However, psychologically healthy workplaces don't happen overnight, it requires effort to build environments where employees feel empowered and healthy. 

Accommodating an employee with a mental illness, or any other disability, is critical to creating a healthy workplace. When you think about it, accommodations are a part of every work environment. Some accommodations are lifestyle related, like arriving or leaving work at different times for non-work related appointments, looking after your children, or temporary bouts of illness. Other accommodations we make all the time are productivity related, like closing your door because of a bad day or need to focus, taking a walk to clear your head, working from home or adjusting communication methods to different learning styles.

Similarly, accommodation for persons with disabilities, including mental illness, does not always have to be complex or costly. Most accommodations are done by the individual themselves or cost less than $500. However, to build a psychologically healthy workplace requires a creating an environment open to disclosure. An environment where employees feel that they can communicate their concerns and receive the support they need equals an inclusive workplace. 

There are plenty of ways for employers and employees to work together to build psychologically healthy workplaces, and there are agencies, like Champions and the CMHA, who can show you how. 

Diversity Champions: An Interview with Home Depot

Monday, March 04, 2013

This month we are pleased to recognize Home Depot as our Diversity Champion, our ongoing feature where we recognize forward-thinking business leaders who embrace inclusion in our community.

Home Depot has been an invaluable partner with Champions since 2009. We have worked with the home improvement and construction retailer in various capacities over the last four years. Champions has been invited to numerous Home Depot stores across Calgary to give Disability Awareness and Inclusion Sessions to different management teams. Home Depot has hosted numerous Meet and Greet events at Champions, where interested candidates can learn more about opportunities available and also participate in screening interviews. 

Home Depot's openness to the the inclusion of persons with disabilities has made it possible for Champions to facilitate many of our clients into positions in their stores, but it also goes beyond that. The Employment and Retention Specialist (ERS) team at Champions has teamed with Home Depot to create an easier transition into the workplace for new hires with disabilities, regardless of if they are Champions clients. 

One of our Employment and Retention Specialists, Nicole Bourgeois, is emphatic about Home Depot's ongoing commitment to inclusion. "We are very fortunate to work with many different Home Depots and their management teams who support accessing different talent pools." 

But don't just take it from us! We wanted to give Home Depot an opportunity to talk about what diversity means to them, and why they find it so important. We asked Aileen Enriquez Palmer, Store Human Resources Manager at Home Depot Canada, some questions to get their perspective on why inclusion is so important. 

What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity and how do you develop and apply your commitment at Home Depot?

At The Home Depot, we are committed to providing an environment that is, and feels, inclusive for all people. We combine our individual talents, skills and experiences with those of others to enrich the lives of our associates, customers and communities.

The Home Depot Canada is recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2013 for the fourth consecutive year. This award recognizes the nation’s leaders in workplace diversity and inclusiveness among several employee groups: women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, aboriginal Canadians and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is lived out in many ways. The Home Depot Canada sponsors a number of employee-driven associate resource groups (ARGs) that bring together associates with shared interests. The groups are:
  • The Power of Possibilities (POP) ARG supports and enables associates of all different abilities to fully contribute and reach their full potential at The Home Depot. 
  • The Orange Unity ARG contributes to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) associates. 
  • Orange Women’s Network (OWN) promotes the professional growth for women at The Home Depot. 
In addition to supporting our ARGs, we also: 
  • Offer our associates an opportunity to work in another language by giving them the option to wear an “I Speak” badge. These badges can be worn on the associate’s apron, and are easily visible to customers. “I Speak” badges are available to all associates in over 50 different languages. 
  • Organize a Diversity Awareness Week annually to promote and celebrate our associates of all backgrounds. 
  • Highlight ethno-cultural holidays and festivals in The Home Depot Canada’s diversity calendar. 
  • Developed a communications strategy to improve access to information and awareness of diversity and inclusion for all Home Depot associates. 
  • Paved the way for greater accessibility. To ensure our main website ( is accessible to everyone, we implemented colour contrast, alt-tags and keyboard navigations. 
Our stores and districts formed over 300 partnerships with local community groups and agencies to support diversity and inclusion at The Home Depot. This is a testament to how our associates demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion and live the value of Respect for All People every day.

What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?

Having associates of different backgrounds is beneficial as the associates bring forth different experiences and perspectives to the business. It is our responsibility to understand our people’s differences by identifying the unique value that every person brings to The Home Depot. To help achieve this understanding, each associate attends a diversity and inclusion training to ensure we live our core value of respect for all.

How does your relationship with Champions positively impact your commitment to building an inclusive workplace?

Champions has been a great support system by organizing Home Depot meet and greets and assisting with training of new hires. In addition, Nicole has facilitated a session for the senior management team on the benefits of employing people with disabilities.

How has the culture of your workplace changed as a result of your commitment to diversity?

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is another way in which we bring our values to life. The Home Depot’s values guide the beliefs and actions of all associates on a daily basis. Our values are the fabric of the company’s unique culture and are central to our success.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Government of Alberta asked Albertans to help create a social policy framework. The result—Alberta’s Social Policy Framework—is a vision for social policy that defines who we are as people and communities, one that reflects our aspirations for a province that offers all Albertans the opportunity to reach their potential and to benefit from the highest possible quality of life. Developed with Albertans, the framework will direct the future of Alberta’s social policy and programs, and it will guide how we come together to ensure that everyone has an opportunity for fulfillment and well-being. This framework is for all Albertans—it is a vision for Alberta and its people, and it is a call to action for everyone to work together to achieve the spirit and goals of the framework.

Join Sponsor Energy and Support Champions with Your Utility Bill

Friday, March 01, 2013

What if I told you that you could save money on your electricity bill while supporting local charities? With no catches involved?

We are excited to announce that we are now a partner with Sponsor Energy - a new energy retailer in Alberta with a unique business model: Use your POWER for GOOD!

So what is Sponsor Energy? Similar to other power retailers in Alberta, like Enmax, Direct Energy and Epcor,  you can purchase the electricity for your home through them. However, unlike other retailers, they donate 50% of their profits from your electricity to local charities. They have a mission to generate $5 million in 5 years for charities in Alberta while providing low cost and reliable electricity service to households and small businesses.

Just how low cost? Sponsor Energy's rates are less expensive than most of the traditional suppliers in Alberta, and their efficient backoffice system - along with paperless billing - means their admin fees are also lower!

Combine the low price with zero sign up fees, zero exit fees, no contracts and the ability to cancel anytime with 15 days notice and switching is a no-brainer.

So make the switch today! As a charity involved with Sponsor Energy, you can select Champions as the recipient of the profits your utility bill generates. To learn more about Sponsor Energy, including how to switch from your current provider, please visit