Marketing – “We currently have openings for…if you possess these skills”
Societal and Employer Attitudes Why Stereotypes and Myths regarding Disability remain prevalent in Society.
The Word Disability
Dis = Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “separated,” “negative” or “reversing force”, causing, or tending to cause deprivation. Ability = a general word for power, talent, capability, proficiency, expertise, skill, competence, aptitude. Dis secting Dis ability Disability = “separated from or lack of talent, power, expertise, capability, skill, competence or aptitude.”
Do we as a society allow and continue to perpetuate the myths and stereotypes of disability? A Sample
Athens Olympic Games 2004 A “Telling Tale” of Two Olympic Athletes Perdita Felicien Chantal Petitclerc
In 2004 Canada’s Governing body of Amateur Sport, “Athletics’ Canada” viewed the accomplishments of these two women as equal.
Named “co-recipients” for Canada’s Female “ Athlete of the Year” - 2004
Here’s what each athlete accomplished at the Olympics to be recognized for such a prestigious award. Perdita fell in the final of the 100 metre hurdles and did not finish the race Chantal won 5 Gold Medals and Established 3 New World Records
Chantal’s 5 Gold Medals & 3 World Records are arguably the single greatest athletic accomplishment in Canadian Amateur Sport.
She should be a household name. Chantal should be one of the most celebrated athletes in this country. She should be inundated with endorsement opportunities.
Why? She’s not. Because the verb used to describe Chantal by society is not athlete rather disabled .
If we overlook the outstanding achievements of our International Athletes with disability, what does that mean for the “average” person with a disability? Studies show that “attitudinal barriers” are the number one issue facing a job seeker with disability
But we have legislation designed to prevent discrimination… The CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT - The Canadian Human Rights Act entitles all individuals to equal employment opportunities without regard to race or colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex (including pregnancy or childbirth), pardoned conviction, disability (either physical or mental or as the result of dependence on alcohol or drugs) , or sexual orientation.
Special Programs and Employment Equity The Canadian Human Rights Act allows for special programs designed to improve opportunities for groups that have been traditionally disadvantaged because of race, ethnic origin, age, sex, disability or other prohibited grounds of discrimination. As well, the Canadian Human Rights Commission audits employers and takes necessary action to ensure they comply with the Employment Equity Act , which is designed to improve job opportunities for four specific groups — women, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities, and people with disabilities. … and then we make exceptions
Strategies to Overcoming Employer Attitudinal Barriers.
Over the last two years I have asked every employer that I have met with a question… “ If I told you that I was a person with a disability what would you guess it to be?” Although most were very uncomfortable about answering this question 67 out of 69 all answered “some sort of mental health issue.” That’s 97%
… approximately 55-65% of ODSP ES job seekers have invisible disabilities … on average then for every 60 out of 100 job seekers from an ODSP ES program interviewing with an employer…58 will be assumed to have “some sort of mental health issue”
What then is society’s view of person’s with mental health issues? According to studies, the rate of unemployment for people with mental health issues ranges from 75% - 89%. Negative attitudes toward those with mental health issues play a significant role in the high unemployment. Studies indicate that employers need assistance to understand how to create supportive environments for persons with mental health issues and that others in the work environment hold negative attitudes toward persons with disabilities in general. According to the Ministry of Health and Long- Term Care’s paper “Mental Health – Making it Work” – the overall perception of mental health issue is not very positive
Are programs and services designed to assist people with disabilities to find employment actually a disservice if the disability is invisible? If we have an understanding that employers have negative attitudes toward person’s with mental health issues and the employer will assume this to be the disability when none is apparent then potentially given the attitude toward mental health is it not a disservice?
Under the Employment Standards Act an employer is not allowed to ask any questions about disability. An Employer however may ask if the job seeker requires any type of workplace accommodation. Given our mandate to best serve people with disabilities in obtaining employment how best do we overcome this major obstacle?
A presentation by David Holman David Holman Consulting. Toronto, Ontario Canada, 416.573.4695