From Left to Right: Marianick Fagnou, Michel Lacroix and Christian Gauthier
Desjardins is one of the biggest financial groups in Canada with a strong commitment to the wellbeing of the individuals and communities they serve. In the last two years, Desjardins has hired four people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to fill highly specialized positions within Cybersecurity and Telecommunications.
Having an inclusive culture has always been a top priority for Desjardins. With the support of Ready, Willing and Able and Action main-d’oeuvre (AMO), the Human Resources Department was able to identify potential candidates for highly specialized positions. Christian Gauthier, the Director of Defensive and Analytic Cybersecurity noted “Mélanie had a very interesting CV and a BA in Cybersecurity. This was exactly the type of profile we were looking for. And it must be said that it’s pretty unusual to find people who have specialized in this field!”
Mélanie Lessard was soon brought on as a technician with the Surveillance and Security team and a few weeks later, Sébastien Tremblay joined the Telephone and Telecommunications Services team as an IT systems and Infrastructure Technician. With a degree in Finance and Administration, Sébastien saw his position evolve quickly into analysis, assessments and internal client interface. Pierre Rochette, Head Director of Security and Telecommunications shared, “This employee’s work is extraordinary. He never makes a mistake.”
Marianick Fagnou, Director of Human Resources explained that since joining the team at Desjardins both Mélanie and Sébastien “have both been hired on permanently and we are very satisfied with the quality of their work”.
Three Keys to Successful Inclusive Hiring
According to Michel Lacroix, Governance of Telephone and Telecommunications Services, three key factors contributed to Desjardins success in hiring inclusively: (1) a workplace culture that fosters mentorship; (2) recruitment, selection and on-the-job support from an agency like AMO; and (3) awareness training for staff.
When the Human Resource Department shared their commitment to hiring inclusively with Desjardins employees, eight employees on Michel Lacroix’s team extended their interest in mentoring a new employee with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Michel explained that for Sébastien “this personalized support helped significantly with his onboarding, and today he only needs this on the rare occasion. This shows that this approach worked well.”
Marianick Fagnou, Director of Human Resources noted that the support provided by Sonia Roy, an employment counsellor at AMO, was also invaluable. “Besides excellent candidates, Sonia provided essential support on every level. Without her input, I don’t know if we would have had the same degree of success”. Sonia provided support across the hiring trajectory, bringing forward candidates with specialized qualifications and providing support in creating inclusive selection strategies.
One week prior to onboarding, Sonia provided awareness training to existing staff to build internal confidence and capacity to create an inclusive workplace that values and leverages diversity. This interactive training session allowed employees to ask questions and critically engage with biases and misconceptions about disability. For Michel Lacroix this step was essential – “once all this was put on the table, the team felt ready and we dove in.”
Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) is a Canada wide partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA). Its goal is to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with labour market partners, employers and employment agencies from coast to coast. (http://readywillingable.ca)
Action main-d’œuvre is a non-profit corporation that assists with the socio-economic integration of individuals with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder.