There’s seeing the ability rather than the disability.
And then, says Renate Burwash, there’s “seeing opportunity.”
Burwash is the director of employment with Gateway Association, which helps Edmonton residents with disabilities discover meaningful work.
“There are a lot of preconceived notions about hiring people with disabilities,” she says, “but what people don’t realize is that they have a lot to bring to a workplace that’s positive.”
Burwash’s Gateway Association is one of several Edmonton organizations involved with the Pan Disability Connection. This network of service providers and employers, including Enbridge, Stantec and DynaLIFE Medical Labs, works together to support meaningful employment opportunities for those with disabilities, as well as inclusive healthy workplaces.
At Enbridge’s downtown office buildings in Edmonton and Calgary, local agencies supporting the employment of people with disabilities have helped establish a team of eZone concierges with developmental disabilities, whose sunny disposition rubs off on visitors and fellow Enbridge employees alike.
“They do such great work, and they’re just so friendly and outgoing,” says Anna-Maria LeMaistre, a diversity and inclusion advisor with Enbridge. “They really do brighten up your day.”
For Enbridge, as with other employers, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace involves removing the barriers that may keep qualified people from working with us. This includes:
Enbridge has been named among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for four consecutive years. And for our work with PDC, and other diversity and inclusion-related activities, Enbridge was recently presented with a 2017 Employment Equity Achievement Award (EEAA) from the Government of Canada.
Enbridge earned a “sector distinction” EEAA from Employment and Social Development Canada, which recognizes employers “who are inspirational role models in their sector . . . in addition to demonstrating a strong commitment and achieving success in implementing employment equity in their own organization, these employers also champion employment equity for the sector.”
Some other examples of Enbridge’s diversity and inclusion-related activities include:
“When you’re hiring inclusively, people have different perspectives, so it’s a huge value around innovation in organizations,” notes Burwash.