We hired on ability not disability: Arc'teryxJuly 4, 2012 by Camille Jensen
Vancouver outdoor clothing company shares hiring experience at AIM's workshop on inclusive hiring
When Vancouver outdoor clothing company Arc'teryx was looking for a new IT team member they went about it the usual way, placing an ad and calling people for interviews based on the person's qualifications.
They ended up hiring a young woman named Alexis, who hiring manager Dana Lee recalls as having a good cover letter and applicable skills. Alexis was also a quadriplegic.
"We hired Alexis because we thought she was a good candidate for the position and not because we were involved in any plan," says Dana, who is also the company's Information Systems Manager.
"It just happened and it worked really well for us, we didn't find any issues with the transition."
Some accommodations were made for Alexis, such as installing a ramp between the cafeteria and outdoor patio so she could enjoy lunch with her colleagues. Alexis also required a different mouse for her computer.
Despite not having full use of her hands, Alexis who is the company's front-line IT support staffer, manages well, and has been with the company for more than a year.
"She's very effective at what she does," says Dana, adding Alexis, who enjoys tennis, fits in well with the company's culture of outdoor activity.
It's this story of hiring someone based on their ability and not their disability that Dana was recently invited to share as part of an employment workshop by Abilities in Mind (AIM). The second in aseries of workshops aiming to break down myths and the unknown about hiring people with disabilities was hosted June 6, and saw more than 50 people attend.
Dana says she enjoyed sharing her experience as well as learning how other employers are creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. She says she was struck by one comment made that it's no longer “nice to have” people who have a disability in the workplace but rather a “need to have.”
Just as 40 years ago it was rare to see a woman in a senior management position, great change can happen when an issue is focused on.
Dana says she also learned that while Arc'teryx didn't need to tailor the role for Alexis, it's worth exploring modifications to encourage greater inclusion.
The hiring experience has been beneficial for Arc'teryx, and Dana says she's happy to share her story with others.
"If they'd like me to come and speak again to a new group of people, I'd be willing to do that," she says.
If you have any feedback please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail camille(at)axiomnews.ca.