Nearly 150 people attended the annual Inclusive Employers’ Excellence Awards (IEEA) celebrating inclusive hiring in Abbotsford, where five local businesses were lauded for their inclusive hiring efforts.
The event was held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre and was the culmination of months of planning by the four organizations presenting the awards: Archway Community Services, Bethesda, Communitas Supportive Care Society, and WorkBC.
The IEEA was created as a way to honour local businesses who intentionally make it part of their business plan to hire people with diverse abilities. Statistics show that businesses who do so improve their employee retention rate by 72%, increase their innovation capacity by as much as 20%, and that customers prefer to give their business to companies that hire inclusively. Matt Dirks is the chief innovation officer for Communitas. He was encouraged to see so many businesses working to make their businesses better and the economy more inclusive to people with diverse abilities.
“It’s important to recognize inclusive employers because it provides a platform for them to share their experiences and the benefits they’ve experienced,” Matt says.
Chris Karema, program director with Communitas, says that the dedication of inclusive employers make a difference in our communities.
“They are trailblazers and deserve to be celebrated for their courage, offering a quality of life to people with diverse abilities by simply recognizing their need for employment, just like everyone else,” Chris says.
Twenty-two businesses were nominated by the public in several categories. The winning businesses are:
- Emergent Employer of the Year – Tracycakes
- Creative Workplace Accommodations – Minuteman Press
- Outstanding Commitment to Inclusive Hiring– Abbotsford School District
- Community Champion for Inclusive Employment – Chalo Freshco
The Inclusive Employer of the Year award went to Kal Tire. The selection committee identified Kal Tire as “an employer who stands out for fostering a workplace culture promoting diversity, implementing creative accommodation strategies, providing ongoing support, fair compensation, opportunities for advancement, and a sustained commitment to inclusive hiring.”
Stacey Murdoch manages Employment Services for Communitas and was a co-emcee for the event. She feels it is important to recognize employers publicly as they set an example for other business owners who are considering inclusive hiring.
“If it weren’t for the inclusive employers providing opportunities for people living with diverse abilities, there wouldn’t be anything to celebrate,” she says. “The IEEA is a great way to thank them for making it all possible.”
The Inclusive Employers Excellence Awards event itself was sponsored by Blue Oak Physiotherapy, the Abbotsford Canucks, Buxton Consulting, Rotary at Work, Inclusion BC, and ICBC.