Small business slow to hire people with disabilities: Survey

Only 3 in 10 hired people with disabilities in 2013, same as 2012
||Last Updated: 10/24/2013

Despite evidence that people with disabilities are more educated, more engaged, more productive and more loyal to employers than the general workforce, small business owners continue to ignore this talented cohort in their hiring plans, according to a BMO survey.

In 2013, three in 10 small business owners indicated they had hired someone with a disability — essentially unchanged from 2012, found the survey of 301 employers.

"Canada's ability to compete internationally is predicated on its ability to innovate, to create and enhance the productivity of its businesses. As an engine for growth and employment, it is critical that small businesses expand the talent pool upon which they rely, to include university- and college-educated people with disabilities who are ready, willing and able to help them compete, not just within their local markets but on a world scale," said Sonya Kunkel, managing director of diversity at BMO Financial Group.

Two-thirds of small business owners said they have never hired a person with either a visible or non-visible disability while two per cent said they didn't know if they'd hired someone with a disability.

"The irony is that business owners readily recognize the advantages of a diverse workforce — 80 per cent said new Canadians bring fresh ideas to the workplace and 79 per cent see diversity as an asset — yet they seem not to understand that people with disabilities can add to this diversity and make a significant contribution to their efforts to improve business results," said Kunkel.

"What's stopping small businesses from hiring people with disabilities and what do we have to do to move the needle?"

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