Businesses in the Central Okanagan are being encouraged to make their workplaces more diverse, by hiring employees with different abilities.
On Thursday afternoon, a job fair in Kelowna, B.C. was held designed to be more inclusive.
Dale Froese has Down syndrome and has been working at Starbucks in Kelowna for nearly 15 years. He’s glad that an employer gave him an opportunity all those years ago.
“We’re just people of our community, we just want to get out and be a part of that,” said Dale.
“The skills that we have just get to know us, sit down with us like — you never know, that person can be hired.”
His wife Leanne Froese also works at Starbucks and she’s also nearing her 15th work anniversary. She says employers need to change their view of disabled people in the workplace.
“There’s a word going around and it’s (about) people are afraid of people with disabilities because they think we’re not the same but we are,” said Leanne.
A job fair hosted by WorkBC Thursday aims to provide more inclusive opportunities.
“We want to make people feel comfortable no matter their background, no matter factors like neurodiversity or physical disability,” said WorkBC employer and community coordinator
“Everyone is welcome and employers are here to promote equal employment opportunities.”
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Gunther says there is currently an untapped resource in job seekers in the community, though they may need some extra accommodations and training.
“Some employers and some job postings are not inclusive and not everyone has adapted to have that inclusive hiring practices within their organizations. We’re trying to bridge that gap and we’re trying to educate employers,” Gunther said.
One local employer says businesses in the Central Okanagan should take the time to figure out what people with disabilities can do, compared to what they can’t.
“I think everybody has abilities and we can teach the skills that are there. We just need to know how to work with people and be willing to bring them in and put that investment in, because what you’re going to get back, just pays off tenfold,” said Starbucks Canada talent acquisition specialist Trina Zacharias.
WorkBC says the event Thursday was just one of the many inclusive job fairs it will host this year.