Among the 25 employees working at Coop Coco & Calendula, three are participants in the Ready, Willing and Able’s employment program: packing clerk Lucia Feola, and production clerks Heather Franklin and Shadday Polony.
Coop Coco & Calendula is a company known for their natural soaps and body care products. In it’s early years, a volunteer with an intellectual disability was brought onto the team. This experience was extremely positive for the company, which resulted in co-owner Sarah Hunter to seriously consider the concept of inclusive hiring.
As is the case for all employees, those with a disability were given the opportunity to try their tasks for a few days to make sure it was a good fit for them.
During the training period, the Ready, Willing and Able program assisted the employer by providing information about intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. Counselors from Action main-d’œuvre and Agence Ometz, organizations that help place employees with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, explained how Hunter could work effectively with program participants.
Initially, Hunter was worried that employees with a disability would experience difficulty adapting to working with other employees. She found that managing employees with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder was no different than managing employees without a diagnosis.
At first, employees with an intellectual disability performed weren’t performing as well as their colleagues. Now, their job performance is equal to other employees’.
“Working as a production clerk involves routine tasks that can be easily accomplished with the skills of people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder,” explains Hunter.
As well, Hunter shares that clients appreciate that her company hires employees with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder – and that gives her a competitive advantage. When she has openings for them, she is prepared to hire other Ready, Willing and Able participants. She recommends the program to other employers and advises them to find out more about the skills of employees with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.
Ready, Willing and Able is a national initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA). It was designed to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, working with partners in the job market, employers and employment agencies from coast to coast.
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Ready, Willing and Able
Association du Québec pour l’intégration sociale