Sometimes the only real challenge of making inclusive employment work, is the one employers set themselves – to look beyond preconceptions and see the rewards. Metro Logistics, a Canadian-owned Logistics Company, (that provides logistics and warehousing services to major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers across Canada and the United States), is just such an employer. On January 1, 2016, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Murray Brabender sent a challenge to his entire corporate team: create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. One year later, that team has hired six employees with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and has built a workplace culture and a network of supports, that will allow them to expand their commitment to inclusive hiring to their other corporate sites across Canada.
When they first heard their COO’s vision for 2016, the entire Metro Logistics team at the Concord, Ontario site – from HR to Operations – leapt at the challenge. Over the course of the year, the team worked together to create partnerships with services and supports in the community who would help them realize their vision for an inclusive workplace.
Sharon McGrath, HR Manager cites her strong partnership with Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) and Corbrook, as central to their success. RWA is a national initiative that supports Canadian businesses in creating an inclusive workplace and Corbrook is a Toronto-based agency specializing in supporting individuals with disabilities in successful employment. She explains that “both Corbrook and RWA have come on site and have seen the job, so they’re able to really provide us with candidates that will fit a busy warehouse environment…and find people like Andrew, Richard and Dave who are really suited for our jobs”. This “due diligence”, as Sharon describes, “allowed us to succeed the first time out of the gate. These hires are not for the sake of saying we are an inclusive culture”.
Metro Logistics first hired three employees with ASD as Order Fulfillment Specialists – 2 full-time and 1 part-time team members. Brad Gibson, Operations Supervisor, explains that in addition to being highly productive and efficient team members, Andrew, Richard and Dave have brought the team together and enhanced workplace culture. He says, “the entire team has really bought in…because people are having more fun, our productivity has increased and I think it’s all related to the culture”.
With the support of RWA and Corbrook, Metro Logistics ensured that their new employees had the supports and accommodations they needed to showcase their skills and abilities. Shabeena Inshanally, Employment Specialist with Corbrook, explained that the company’s flexibility in adapting the interview process to allow candidates to demonstrate their actual skills and implementing a graduated work schedule whereby the new employees were able to build their stamina for the long work shifts was integral to success.
Looking back on 2016, the team at Metro Logistics noted that what started as the COO’s challenge has now become “the new norm”. The company looks forward to reaping the rewards from expanding their inclusive hiring practices to other sites across Canada.
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.
If you’re interested in learning about the rewards of inclusive hiring, contact us today.