Every year, Sobeys Inc. and Safeway Distributors in Calgary, Alberta prepare more than 60,000 food hampers for underprivileged families. For Warehouse Superintendent, Jason Walker, this means hiring reliable and productive crew members who can assemble up to 240 hampers a day and meet the need over the holiday season.
As an employer with a long-standing history of building a diverse and inclusive workforce, Jason turned to Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) for assistance with his recruitment efforts. This national initiative is designed to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
With assistance and support from RWA, Walker hired Connor, a keen and bright young man with ASD. In addition to helping Walker find the right candidate, RWA assisted with the training process to ensure that Connor would be successful.
According to Walker, the repetitive nature of assembling hampers and selecting items is not for everyone, but has proven to be a good fit for Connor’s skills. He works 24 hours a week as part of a four-person assembly crew that selects food items and assembles the hampers.
“Connor works just as hard or harder than anyone else on the team,” says Walker, “We never have to worry about his attendance or whether he’ll be at work on time. He has easily become part of the team and has made a positive impact on other team members.”
Research shows that people with intellectual disabilities are found to be loyal, stable, dependable and competent employees who can reliably perform routine work tasks especially in high-turnover, entry-level jobs.
“We invest wisely in our employees through training, orientation and using other staff to mentor new employees,” says Walker. “It’s important that the candidates who complete their three month probation stay with us so that we’re not repeating that investment on a regular basis. With Connor, we know we have that long term commitment.”
With the help and support of RWA, Sobeys’ commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce is only expected to grow.
Funded by the Government of Canada and active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is a national partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations.