In Canada, many employers strive to promote an “inclusive” workplace culture. This means that they appreciate and embrace uniqueness, rather than screening out applicants stigmatized as “different”. Companies that recognize the importance of employee diversity often seek out resources to better understand what it takes to create and sustain an inclusive work environment. For example, they might want to evaluate how accessible their work space is for employees with physical disabilities, or ensure that training programs accommodate candidates with dyslexia.
The Accessibility Trend
We see the growing trend toward inclusivity across many sectors. Students pursuing educational assistant training are taught how to help exceptional students integrate more effectively into mainstream classrooms. Graduates of mental health worker programs help at-risk individuals integrate into their local communities in healthy, rewarding ways. Community support workers (CSWs) help connect at-risk individuals with meaningful employment, and a greater sense of independence.
Ensuring a Smooth Transition
Many people with disabilities want to find a job, earn a wage, and feel valued by society.Community support workers help make that happen. Through local organizations, they help people with special needs connect with inclusive employers, and ensure that their transition to the workplace is smooth and successful. CSWs use their expertise to make recommendations to employers about accommodating workers with disabilities – and may provide additional support during training periods.
Part of the CSW’s role is to actively support those with disabilities through their career discovery process. This may involve preparing for interviews, consulting on training programs and developing coaching strategies to ease the transition into the workplace.
CSWs network with companies to find employment opportunities that match the skill-sets of the people they assist. They are also part of outreach programs designed to educate companies on the advantages of an accessible workplace. Community support workers are familiar with the latest accessibility standards – and can advise companies on ways to make their work environments more physically and technologically inclusive for candidates with disabilities.
Accessible Workplaces Benefit Employees & Employers
Securing employment in an inclusive workplace helps individuals with special needs gain confidence, independence, and a greater level of financial security. Other benefits include:
· Meeting new people and making friends
· Learning and developing new skills
· Living with a sense of purpose and accomplishing goals
Similar to earning a therapeutic recreation diploma, studying to become a CSW highlights the importance of helping individuals with special needs live full, rewarding lives. Most humans want to feel needed, and that they make a unique contribution to society – and a CSW ensures that the people in their care have equal opportunity to experience just that.
Benefits extend to employers as well. Any enterprise is positively impacted by making their work environment more accessible. By including exceptional people on their teams, companies can:
· Overcome social barriers
· Diversify their talent pool
· Use technology in new ways
In what other ways do you think we all benefit from more inclusive workplaces?