Businesses, organizations and people with diverse abilities throughout BC are commemorating the month of September as Disability Employment Month, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce, and the employers and communities who support their success. This has led to the creation of the EMBRACE INCLUSION campaigns in Langley and Maple Ridge, which take place throughout September, and involve social media posts, displaying EMBRACE INCLUSION logo stickers and actively promoting people with diverse abilities for job opportunities.
The EMBRACE INCLUSION campaign was created by the Langley Vocational Committee, comprised of local service providers and employers including WorkBC Langley, Langley Community Services, Inclusion Langley Society, Community Living of BC, Langley School District 35, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Services to Adults with Developmental Disabilities. The movement aims o raise awareness about the skills that people with diverse abilities can bring to the workplace and encouraging businesses to build inclusive, diverse workforce.
Ines Montoya, Business & Community Liaison for WorkBC Langley, was one of the founders of this movement. She feels that this campaign is very important, as “we are all about inclusion in the workplace. Inclusive hiring helps employers to be a part of the community, to connect with their customers and neighbours and to access a valuable workforce that has been underserved in the past. Especially with the labour shortages happening right now!”
The campaign is supported by community leaders such as Lisa Beare, MLA Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, Bob D’Eith, MLA of Maple Ridge-Mission, Black Press Media, HSBC, Downtown Ridge Meadows BIA, Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, and the WorkBC locations in Langley and Maple Ridge. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that people with diverse abilities have more opportunity to contribute to the economy, earn an income, and better support themselves and their families.
Michael Morris, Community Liaison for WorkBC Maple Ridge, believes that inclusive hiring is crucial, both for the individuals and for the businesses. He says that “with labour shortages and hiring challenges felt across BC, hiring people with diverse abilities is more important than ever. We’re seeing businesses thrive due to their inclusive hiring practices, with people with diverse abilities contributing significantly to their employers’ success.”
British Columbia has more than 200,000 people with diverse abilities currently employed, with many employers benefitting from their contributions. For example, Ridge Meadows Recycling Society provides recycling and environmental services to the Ridge Meadows area while, as Kim Day, Executive Director says, “providing employment training and opportunities in an integrated & inclusive work setting, customized to individual skills and abilities designed to ensure success in the jobs.” RM Recycling is providing a much needed service to the community by filling positions with people with diverse abilities and seeing them thrive in a supportive and meaningful environment.
Bean Around Books is another employer who has benefitted from hiring folks with diverse abilities. Tara Malanik, Facilitator of Bean Around Books and the Pathfinder Youth Centre Society in Maple Ridge, says that they “believe that regardless of ability each individual has something to offer and that is why here at Pathfinder Youth Centre Society – Bean Around Books we include everyone, including those with diverse-abilities. We understand the importance of acceptance and belonging and we are committed to empowering each person in hopes of them becoming a positive role model for the community.”