Business Benefits of Accessible Workplaces

This briefing focuses on the benefits and returns that accrue when organizations invest in accessible employment practices.

This article is aimed at helping businesses to be more accessible for people with disabilities. While it discusses many ideas from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), its insights regarding enhancing employment for people with disabilities could benefit employers in BC.  It also outlines some of the many benefits of engaging in accessible employment practices for people with disabilities, such as:

  • Tapping into a skilled talent pool, especially in areas of the economy that are experiencing labor and skill shortages;
  • Improving the business’  bottom line, such as better job retention, higher attendance, lower turnover, or better safety records;
  • Enabling businesses to be more innovative and creative due to more diverse work teams;
  • Accessing a major under-served consumer market which can represent profitable business opportunities; and
  • Demonstrating to the wider community that the business is open to all, increasing its profile and appeal to more consumers.

The briefing addresses some of the barriers to making employment practices more accessible for people with disabilities, such as:

  • Common misconceptions that accommodations are expensive;
  • A lack of knowledge of how to recruit people with disabilities;
  • Job application processes which need to be streamlined to make them more accessible; and
  • Negative attitudes which are still prevalent and remain the leading impediment for employment of people with disabilities.

It ends with a few strategies to enhance workplace diversity, including:

  • Ensure leadership is committed to accessibility from the top-down;
  • Focus on creating an inclusive work environment for all employees;
  • Dedicate both human and financial resources to increase the accessibility of the work environment;
  • Share learning experiences with other businesses; and
  • Build community partnerships with agencies that can provide supports and services to the employer.

The article’s key lesson is that businesses can greatly benefit from taking the lead in enhancing the accessibility of their workplaces for people with disabilities, enabling them to be more fully engaged and utilized in the labour market.