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Workforce Diversity In The Workplace Essay

Workforce diversity is a goal all organization attempt to achieve to create an inclusive environment. Although there are several laws and legislations formulated to support and liberate all Canadian citizens and employees such as The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Employment Standards Legislation, and the Federal Employment Equity Act, there is a specific group of individuals neglected not only within the workforce, but society in general. People with disabilities are underrepresented in all fields and receive a lower pay (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014). The underlying question remains, why?

Why are people with disabilities not receiving equal opportunities within the workforce and remaining underrepresented? There are several reasons that are unrelated to their condition, such as, the physically inaccessibility of a workplace, discriminatory hiring practices, but also, the attitudes and demographics of those with disabilities. There are many concerns regarding the physical inaccessibility of a workplace, but that is not the root of the issue. To begin, the recruitment process is not necessarily targeted towards persons with disabilities, nor is it disability friendly.

For example, one ith a visual impairment may not have access to an online job posting. Someone who is a permanent wheelchair user may not be able to attend a career fair that is in an inaccessible location, which is inherently discouraging (Addressing barriers to the job market, 2010). This causes qualified, capable, working class individuals to give up on their search for employment, which is not only problematic for the disabled community but the economy as whole as the unemployment rate rises (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014).

Moving forward, once the search for a job has been conquered, being accepted within the workplace ay pose as another issue. Although the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is being implemented, and by January 1st, 2025, by law, all facilities must be accessible, this law only resides in Ontario and is just shy of 8 years away (AODA, 2005). For someone with a disability, asking for certain changes to be made within the work environment for accessibility purposes may be difficult and uncomfortable as they may feel that they are too much of a hassle and fear they will lose their job due to this.

Unaware that they are legally allowed to request reasonable accommodations until undue ardship, which means employers are required to accommodate until financial costs and health and safety is at risk (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014). Also, if they are under Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) funding, ODSP will pay for the workplace accommodations, but not all with a disability are eligible for ODSP, not all are accepted and not all are aware of this (Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, 2017). Again, this is not country wide, just Ontario based.

Thus, workplace inaccessibility remains a factor hindering individuals with disabilities to receive equal opportunities within the workforce. Discrimination within the hiring practices is generally not committed maliciously. The thought process for approaching staffing is exceedingly simplistic, they are looking to find someone who makes their life easier. Although, senior managers understand the beneficial aspect to a diverse workplace, recruiters and middle managers are unfortunately the first people to filter through applications (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014).

If they are not educated on the advantages of diversity and disability inclusion, barriers for the organizations hiring practices are then placed. They are merely looking to find omeone with minimum training, investment and effort involved (Addressing barriers to the job market, 2010). There is a misconception that if someone with a disability is hired they will require an excessive amount of training and effort, which seems unnecessary to employers.

This perception comes from a lack of knowledge about disability and accommodation issues, along with concerns for cost related apprehensions and legal obligations (Turcotte, 2014). They are also According to Stats Canada, the employment rate for Canadians aged 25-64 with disabilities was 49%, compared to “able-bodied” Canadians with a 79% rate. Although 1 in 2 university graduates, with or without a disability, held a professional occupation, graduates with a disability were less likely to hold a management position and earned less than those without a disability, especially amongst men (Turcotte, 2014).

In this study they discovered that people with disabilities were at least twice as likely to be put into the personal service and customer information service occupations, such as cleaners, chefs, and customer service representatives (Turcotte, 2014). They were also more concentrated within the sales occupation. They main difference is that these occupations equire a lower level of education, although the employees with disabilities may be just as qualified the likelihood of them receiving the job is minuscule.

They also discovered that men with disabilities received a salary of $49 200 while men without received a salary of $67 600, that’s almost a $20 000 difference (Turcotte, 2014). Consequently, discriminatory hiring practices limit the advancement of disabled employees within the workforce. Although there are many external factors limiting the growth of the disabled community within the workforce, the attitude and demographics of those with disabilities is something to onsider.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, “40% of persons with disabilities were aged 55 to 64, compared with 21% of their counterparts without a disability. These age differences may affect employment rates, since the rates go down significantly after the age of 55″ (Turcotte, 2014). Also, Statistics Canada conducted a survey, Canadian Survey on Disability, in 2012, which concluded that persons with disabilities were less-educated, this could be related to lack of employment.

It showed that 27% of those without a disability held a university, 18% of those with a mild or moderate disability held university degree, and only 9% of persons with a severe or very severe disability held a university degree (). Furthermore, it determined that there were more women with disabilities (Turcotte, 2014). Women are part of the Employment Equity Act because they are also discriminated against and have a lower employment rate, hence being a female with a disability puts you at a higher risk of unemployment (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014).

Another factor restraining the disabled community is their attitude and “branding. ” “Unlike other groupings of people, such as the LGBT community- disabled people have very little rand identity,” (Knowledge @ Wharton, 2013). For women, there is feminism and all come together to support one-another in events such as the Women’s March, for the LGBTQ community there is Pride Parade in which their liberation is celebrated and their brand is established.

Within the disabled community there is nothing that truly stands out to bring acceptance into society and to normalize disabilities in general so it is less of a taboo topic (Gething, 2006). Many people with disabilities are afraid of acknowledging their disability because they believe it will skew the perception others have of them, if his attitude is adjusted and confidence is awarded, it may cause a change within the employment rates and increase the opportunities persons with disabilities have within the workforce.

Overall, there are several issues that result in the underrepresentation of the disabled in the workforce. Firstly, the accessibility of the occupations, from the recruitment process, to selection to integration within the work environment. Secondly, discriminatory hiring practices due to lack of knowledge, cost-related fears, and legal obligations. Along with enabling the glass ceiling effect to restrain someone f disability to obtain a management position (Dessler, Chhinzer, & Cole, 2014).

Lastly, the attitude and demographics of persons with disabilities in regards to age, education and gender. Also, lack of confidence and branding which has not assisted in the acceptance and normalization of disability in society. All in all, productive steps are being implemented yearly to assist in this journey of diversity in the workforce with acts such as the AODA, Employment Equity Act and support systems such as OSDP, many will benefit and change will soon occur increasing workforce diversity and disability inclusion.

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