What organizational skills, strategies and policy supports would help employers hire advance people with disabilities? Exclusionary design and bias in recruitment, hiring and advancing is a longstanding issue that leaves workers with disabilities unable to contribute their full potential and excludes them from good jobs. Many medium and large employers in Canada are onboard with doing better – but the results are lagging. 

The Public Policy Forum (PPF) has been leading the conversation on the future of work and tracking how the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up and intensified changes work and workplaces. The pandemic made things both harder and better in some ways for people with disabilities and has challenged employers’ abilities and priorities to grow and support their workforce.  

In pursuit of a post-pandemic economy that is equitable for all and positioned for growth, PPF launched the Access Ability project (Fall 2020) to work with its network of medium-sized and large employers plus policymakers to tackle the issue of exclusionary design and bias in recruitment, hiring and advancement affecting workers with disabilities. 

To do this work, the Public Policy Forum will integrate its policy shop and Learning Academy to identify challenges alongside stakeholders through research and consultation, and to use this information to develop policy learning and training resources for employers and policymakers. Together, we aim to transform organizational practices alongside our network of Canadian employers. 

The Access Ability project will be guided by the following principles: 

  • Nothing Without Us: Persons with disabilities will be actively involved in all stages of the project. 
  • Intersectionality: The project will consider overlapping disadvantages, sources of oppression and systemic barriers affecting people with disabilities in its project design, research and relationships, including working intersectionally with people of multiple experiences and identities. 
  • Authenticity: PPF will model and foster openness, humility and truth and support project stakeholders in doing the same. 
  • Sustainability: The project will focus on helping employers and policymakers take actionable steps that have long-term impact. 

For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact: Marlena Flick, Policy Lead (mflick@ppforum.ca 

Access Ability Advisory Council:

The Access Ability project is pleased to engage an expert advisory panel which represents people with lived experience, academics, employers, and advocates to guide the project development and shape the workshop curriculum. PPF is appreciative of their active participation, advice for this project and is pleased to introduce them and acknowledge their excellent work:

  • Anna-Karina Tabuñar – President and Founder at the Talent Untapped Group 
  • Karl SchwonikCreative Entrepreneur and PhD student at the Haskayne School of Business
  • Wendy Cukier – Professor, Founder and Director of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson
  • Julie Cafley
  • Aimee Louw – Writer, and 2020 TD Fellow on Disability and Inclusion
  • Gift Tshuma – Universal Design Advisor
  • Shelley Page – Journalist and Executive Editor at The Sick Days
  • Haley Flaro – Executive Director at Ability New Brunswick
  • Alfred MacLeod – Assistant Deputy Minister at the Office of Public Service Accessibility, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Ricardo Wagner – Microsoft Accessibility Lead 
  • Krystal Abotossaway, Senior Manager Diversity and Inclusion, Indigenous Peoples Area of Focus at TD Bank
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