Roop Johal of Small Business BC
Credit: Small Business BC. Roop Johal 

With local companies, Presidents Group has launched a documentary series making the case for more accessible and inclusive workplaces

To foster reliable and loyal talent in an organization, it’s important to address the barriers that employees might face every day. Presidents Group, based in Vancouver with a network of 25 organizations championing more accessible and inclusive workplaces, is encouraging companies to take stock of that through a five-part documentary series it created with production studio True Calling and various local businesses. 

“We wanted to highlight that people with disabilities are great employees,” says Yat Li, senior accessibility consultant at Presidents Group.

The first video tells the story of Roop Johal, business development and sponsorship manager at Small Business BC (SBBC), who also lives with dyslexia. The documentary emphasizes two main points: it’s easy to hire people with disabilities (accessibility accommodations can be made for the price of replacing an office printer), and those folks tend to stick around longer. “I wanted to prove to those that thought I couldn’t that I can, and I have,” Johal says.

As it stands, the poverty rate among Canadians with mild to severe disabilities is 40 to 200 percent higher than for those without. But in the video, Tom Conway, CEO of SBBC, maintains that diverse and inclusive businesses have better outcomes, even when it comes to meeting financial targets. “Hiring folks with disabilities paints a full picture of community,” Conway adds.

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Launched in 2013, Presidents Group has stuck to its mission by creating an online Community of Accessible Employers in 2018. The company’s base of 25 leaders are appointed by the minister of social development and poverty reduction, but the rest of the community consists of employers committed to making workplaces more accessible.

Members gain access to e-learning materials such as a free course that covers legal requirements and terminology when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. The course also offers practical information about accommodations, with everything vetted by lawyers and occupational therapists.  

Presidents Group continues to build on its accessibility work via the new docuseries, which will highlight small, medium and large workplaces and employees with different disabilities to show how employers work with those talented staff. 

It’s the goal of the Presidents Group to grow employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” says co-chair Lisa Beecroft. “We hope that our five-part series, Restating the Case for Inclusive Employment, will illustrate why hiring people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the right thing for your business.”