Ready, Set, Recruit: Hiring People With Disabilities

Your tourism business needs good, reliable employees. You’ve heard the business case for hiring people with disabilities. Your organization is committed to more accessible and inclusive hiring. So what’s the next step?

Before you start recruiting, it’s important to make sure your team feels supported in hiring and engaging employees with disabilities. “Being an inclusive employer doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming,” says Jamie Millar-Dixon, recruitment specialist at BC Partners in Workforce Innovation. “However, if you are hiring someone with diverse abilities for the first time, it’s best to look at ways to set your company, team, and new employee up for success. There may be something you need to adapt or do differently.”

An open environment in which people can ask questions and raise concerns is critical to your success. Here are four tips to help you move forward.

  1. ­­­­Open the Conversation
To ensure your team and people managers are on board, invite them to have an open, honest discussion about hiring people with disabilities. This gives them an opportunity to ask questions they may not have felt comfortable asking in other settings and lets you proactively address any concerns. Giving people the space to voice reservations is a great way to address biases and misconceptions. Consider asking your team this question: What makes you uneasy about hiring people with disabilities? 

  1. Talk About Language
Some people might be nervous about the most appropriate language to use when talking about disability. As an employer, you can help build a stronger, more inclusive team by offering language tips to help everyone interact effectively and respectfully. We all make mistakes, but being curious and trying is the key to getting started.

  1. Reach Out for Support
Build a relationship with a Disability Employment Service Organization. “Don't feel like you have to do this all by yourself,” says Kristin Bower, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant at Vancity Credit Union. “Don't feel like you have to be the subject matter expert now in employing people with diverse-abilities. You're already the subject matter expert in your business. So find a great partner, and work with them.” In addition to helping you find great candidates, these organizations can help train your team on how to support people with disabilities in the workplace. 

  1. Review Your Recruitment Practices
Hiring practices at many organizations can contain unintended barriers for people with disabilities. Take a look at your practices from posting to placement with the lens of accessibility. Does the job posting invite applicants with disabilities? Is the interview in an accessible location? Is there a way for a candidate to ask for an accommodation if needed? There are many resources to help you move forward.

Moving forward is key. While it is important to create organizational readiness, it’s also important to get started.  “A great place to start is to call somebody who has been down that road before,” says Craig Richmond, President and CEO Vancouver Airport Authority. Richmond is co-chair of the Presidents Group, which offers more resources for support.