Six businesses have received the Inclusive Employers’ Excellence Awards (IEEA) in Abbotsford.
The awards were presented Oct. 19 at a breakfast attended by almost 200 people at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre.
The event was the culmination of months of planning by four organizations – Archway Community Services, Bethesda, Communitas Supportive Care Society and WorkBC.
The IEEA was created to honour local businesses who make it part of their business plan to hire people with diverse abilities.
“We want to celebrate businesses that are doing a great job with inclusive hiring and encourage this further,” said Caleb Wee, employment services manager with Bethesda. “We also want to show our appreciation for all they do to support the people we serve.”
Simren Thind, an employment specialist with Archway, said she was impressed by the number of employers nominated and that each one had a different story to tell.
“Each story was a success story and, to me, that showed how much the employer cared about the employee,” she said. “It also showed us the different opportunities that employers were willing to give their employees to help them be part of their team.”
Twenty-six businesses were nominated by the public in several categories. The winning businesses were::
• Everclean Facilities Services at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – Emergent Employer of the Year
• McDonald’s (McCallum Junction) – Creative Workplace Solutions
• VSSL – Outstanding Commitment to Inclusive Hiring (small business)
• Staples Abbotsford –Outstanding Commitment to Inclusive Hiring (large business)
• Fraser Valley Child Development Centre – Community Champion for Inclusive Hiring
• Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Abbotsford Centre – Inclusive Employer of the Year
Marvin Robbins, who has hired inclusively for years, accepted the award on behalf of the Canucks.
“This means a lot to me. Working with these people is so amazing,” he said. “They’ve become my friends. If you find the right job for the right person, you’ve got a good employee.”
Christian Saint Cyr, community engagement manager for WorkBC Abbotsford-Mission, said he was moved by the IEEA event.
“There’s a real business case for inclusive hiring and yet what we saw at the awards event is that inclusive hiring doesn’t just improve business; it also changes hearts and minds,” he said.
Matt Dirks, chief innovation officer with Communitas, agreed. His advice to any employer who might be hesitant about inclusive hiring is to take a chance.
“It’s not as hard or complicated as you think it is,” he said. “There’s lots of support in the community and from us as service providers. It’s all about making an investment in people and the returns on that investment are excellent.”
Employers seeking information about inclusive hiring can contact Heather O’Brien at EPIC@archway.ca.