Four in 10 (39 per cent) Canadian small business owners have hired someone with a disability, according to BMO Financial Group.
This is up 34 per cent from 2013 when 29 per cent of small business owners had hired someone with a disability — defined as someone with a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning disability.
“It’s really encouraging to see that more and more small businesses not only understand the business case for hiring people with disabilities, but are taking measurable action by tapping into this very skilled, capable and motivated talent pool,” said Sonya Kunkel, chief diversity officer and vice-president of talent strategies at BMO Financial Group.
“Research shows that more diverse and inclusive workplaces drive stronger performance, create more successful and engaged employees and build competitive advantage. Collectively, we’re making good progress in building understanding and awareness. But businesses of all sizes in Canada still have work to do to translate this knowledge into programs that will effectively reduce the disproportionate number of people with disabilities in Canada who remain unemployed.”
A majority (86 per cent) of the 502 small business owners surveyed said workplace diversity is an asset. However, only 36 per cent said their company has a formal program in place to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Having a program in place sets the stage — and a standard — for everyone to talk openly about their differences. It can also help reduce stigma, break down barriers and ensure employees have the support they need to perform at their best,” said Kunkel.
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