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Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disability Management, Leadership, Mental Health, Occupational Health & Safety, Psychosocial Factors

The purpose of Disability Employment Awareness Month is to promote employment inclusion for people with disabilities and celebrate the many and varied contributions of workers with disabilities. The Work Wellness Institute is very proud to share the numerous amounts of work we have done to promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workplace, and to breakdown the barriers for those wishing for fulfilling employment. 

According to data collected by the Government of Canada in 2017, 6.2 million people in Canada over the age of 15 have a disability, making up 22% of the country’s population 

In 2021, the Canadian Government conducted a study to better understand the experience of this population, taking specific care to examine their experience with the workplace. It was shown that organizations that adopted inclusive hiring and retention practices in their workplace were more likely to: 08-disability-and-inclusion-and-accessibility-1025-en-pr.pdf ( 

1) Meet or exceed their financial targets,  

2) Be high-performing businesses,  

3) Show innovation in the field and  

4) Achieve better business outcomes. 

Yet, individuals with disabilities have the lowest rate of employment within the workplace and are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed as compared to those individuals without disabilities. Approximately 58% of young adults with autism have never worked between high school and their early 20s (Roux, Shattuck, Rast, Rava, & Anderson, 2015). In addition, this group is disproportionately under-employed compared to their peers without such a diagnosis. This same assumption can be broadened to accommodate many other unique disabilities experienced by Canadians. 

Why do persons with disabilities experience the lowest employment rate? 

Lack of inclusive workplace practices in organizations across the country is a leading barrier for individuals with disabilities. This lack of education on actionable skills and resources is causing organizations to disregard an entire population of skilled, confident workers that could transform their workplace. 

Commit to Expanding Your Knowledge about Disability Management 

The first step in creating change is acknowledging where your knowledge lacks and how to expand your education. Start first with Disability Management, take our courses Part 1: Best Practices for Disability Management in the Workplace and Part 2: Best Practices for Disability Management in the Workplace. By the end of this course, you’ll have the foundations you need to begin developing and using best practices in the workplace including resources and approaches. You can utilize the knowledge obtained to improve your existing practices or as the starting point for developing a disability management system. 

Additionally, diversity training and inclusion practices have become an integral part of our culture and life. A Practical Toolkit for Developing Workplace Disability Policies looks to increase your confidence in your ability to support people at work -regardless of ability – so that you can make better-informed decisions as you continue to contribute and/or build your organizations. Take this course and begin building disability policies within your organization today. 

Learn About Diverse Populations 

According to Susanne Bruyere in our webinar Perceptions of Barriers and Facilitators for Individuals with Autism in Job Interviews, employers and service providers must provide more knowledge of what to expect in the interview for candidates with Autism. Building workplaces where neurodivergent workers thrive by Jane Hutchison also dives deeper into this topic by teaching leaders the barriers that neurodivergent workers face, and how employers can begin to break down these barriers and improve the workplace experience for neurodivergent employees. 

Chronic pain is a common and global health problem and a leading cause of work disability. In Working through Pain: How can we address chronic pain at work by Duygu Biricik Gulseren, recent research on chronic pain will be discussed as well as health and work management strategies for employees experiencing chronic pain. Tools and resources will also be shared for organizational leaders about how they can support their employees with pain. 

“Practicing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is about committing to a process of growing and evolving. {…} No matter what you call it the principles of EDI have become an essential component of business best practices. You may already know that educating employees and yourself about the importance of being equitable, diverse, and inclusive is vital to the success of today’s workplace, but you might be wondering how you can implement steps to begin making a shift.” 

So, what can you do right now? 

Commit to learning and listening to the Experience of Employees with Disabilities. Ask questions on how to be more inclusive, try to understand the emotional toll of workplace mistreatment and how employees respond to workplace mistreatment. Explore the intersection between individual, disability, and workplace environment in the treatment of employees with disabilities. Learn how disability service providers can partner with all stakeholders to ensure workplace inclusion of employees with disabilities. 


Join the Work Wellness Institute in creating actionable change today in the experience of work for persons with disabilities by taking a course, attending a webinar or become a member and get certified as an inclusive leader for your organization. 


Written by: Andrena Hilder 

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