During NDEAM, for Continued Success, Businesses Can Start Capitalizing on the Disability Inclusion Evolution Happening Now

Whitby, ON — With a combination of forces rapidly redefining the nature of work, disability inclusion in talent recruiting and employment is at the forefront more than ever this National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). But it still takes a back seat when business priorities shift in the short term and this hinders business success in the long term, especially when there’s a growing labour shortage in Canada.

“There is more commitment to, action on, and conversation about, disability inclusion — The Valuable 500 initiative is evidence of this,” affirms Jeannette Campbell, CEO of the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN).

(The Valuable 500 was started at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2019. It’s a global initiative to get the CEOs of 500 national and multinational companies to commit to putting disability inclusion on their business leadership agendas. The Valuable 500 is now in phase two: developing an action plan.)

But Campbell notes, “Although there’s growing, evolving awareness of and action on inclusion in business, disability-related inclusion efforts still too often get left out or left behind. With all the changes happening, it’s important for businesses to not lose sight of disability inclusion in their diversity and inclusion goals — disability needs to be part of the business conversation continuously. If it’s not, that’s not good for business.”

Research has shown that 78% of Canadian consumers prefer to buy products from companies that are intentionally disability-inclusive.

The combined forces of virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology; the coronavirus pandemic; labour shortages; and a rapidly changing economy, are swiftly changing the nature of work and workplaces. They’re also redefining business and employment success. In turn, this is creating employment, and career-training and -exploration opportunities, for job seekers who have a disability, that previously there were barriers to.

The changes are also creating opportunities for businesses to seize.

“In evolving work environments where employees can work remotely, many accommodation and assistive technology concerns are a moot point. Where possible, we see employees being accommodated, whether that’s with technology, or more flexible work arrangements, so they can be successful and productive,” says Campbell.

Reflecting all of the changes happening, ODEN’s 2021 NDEAM campaign theme is, Engaging Talent in the Disability Inclusion Evolution.

“Studies and research show that people who have a disability are an under-utilized talent pool that must be accessed for businesses to remain successful in the future,” affirms Campbell.

A new RBC Economics report published in July, reinforces this. “As shortages grow, so will the urgency for Canada to turn to new and under-utilized sources of labour force growth,” states the report.

The RBC report notes, there’s a 3.6% vacancy rate across all industrial sectors in Canada (550,000 job vacancies in the first quarter of 2021).

The labour shortage will keep growing because of two key factors, according to the RBC analysis: Increasing baby-boomer retirements, and renewed willingness of employees to leave and find a new job if they don’t have enough job satisfaction.

“With the restart of the economy, now’s the time for businesses to ensure their hiring practices are diverse and disability inclusive,” Campbell says.

During NDEAM, ODEN will be publishing a two-part article series to help businesses understand the diversity of disability, and why awareness training is essential to be successful with intentional disability-inclusive hiring. There’ll also be limited-time access to replays of speaker sessions on these topics, from ODEN’s March 24 virtual Rethinking Disability Conference.

Understanding the Diversity of the Disability Talent Pool, with guest Speaker Linda Ivory, an Organizational Development Consultant, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with Halton Healthcare, will be available beginning October 6.

What’s the Level of Disability Awareness & Confidence in Your Business, a session by Jean-Marc Valmont, Human Resources Manager at the Canadian National Exhibition, will be released October 20.

Access to both replays ends at midnight on Sunday, October 31.

On October 27, ODEN will be releasing a new episode of its podcast, You Can’t Spell Inclusion Without a D. The featured guest is John Robinson, Our Ability President and CEO. Robinson is also the creator of Jobs Ability — recently launched in Canada as Jobs Ability Canada, the only online AI-driven recruitment platform built by and for people who have a disability.

During NDEAM one major national event will shine a light on Engaging Talent in the Disability Inclusion Evolution, literally. The second annual Light It Up! For NDEAMTM takes place Thursday, October 21. Hundreds of businesses, structures, signs and landmarks across Canada will be specially lit purple and blue for one night. The first Light It Up! For NDEAM was Ontario-wide.

“October is the month every year that Canada recognizes the contributions that people who have a disability make to businesses and their communities, and how they help companies be successful and competitive,” says Campbell, “But businesses should focus on disability inclusion all the time, not just during NDEAM.”


For more information, and to arrange interviews, contact:  
Dave Bennett, Xposure PR      dave@xposurepr.com 905-339-6668Dean Askin, Communications Strategist, ODEN     daskin@odenetwork.com  416-818-1514 (cell)

ABOUT ODEN: The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), created in 2008, is a professional body of more than 130 employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. Members are from every corner of the province and support people of all disability types. Beyond Ontario, ODEN (odenetwork.com) has connections with organizations in other provinces and territories of Canada. Light It Up! For NDEAMTM is a trademark of the Ontario Disability Employment Network.