The Home Depot has always recognized that a home is most Canadians’ single largest financial and emotional investment. As such, the history of The Home Depot in Canada is one of serving people well through its own ‘people strength’. Catering to do-it-yourselfers, as well as home improvement, construction and building maintenance professionals, The Home Depot, operates in all Canadian provinces, employing more than 30,000 associates in 182 stores across Canada. And built into each store is a diversity and inclusion strategy that forms their ongoing corporate commitment to both their own associates and broader communities alike.
A tangible aspect of The Home Depot’s commitment to inclusion is their growing partnership with Ready Willing and Able (RWA). Beginning in 2015, The Home Depot-RWA partnership has worked to ensure that job seekers with an intellectual disability or on the autism spectrum have open access to employment opportunities across the country. Like RWA’s other eleven national employer partners (and the thousands more individual employers engaged), The Home Depot, relies upon RWA to provide qualified, skilled candidates to fill many of its vacancies; enriching each store’s ‘people strength’, one job at a time. Since the beginning of the partnership, almost 50 jobs have been filled in 30+ stores.
Having started as a pilot project in a limited number of stores, The Home Depot-RWA partnership was expanded again in 2019-20 to include 46 locations in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta, and British Columbia. Among these stores, a recent highlight is the Abbotsford location (British Columbia), which hired three candidates in April 2021. According to Sandeep Dhesi, the Human Resources Manager in Abbotsford, the partnership with RWA was one of her primary motivators to hire inclusively because she knew there was both solid corporate endorsement, and expansive on-going support. On The Home Depot’s corporate website persons with special needs are encouraged to apply and engage with the employer early in the recruitment process around possible accommodations. The RWA partnership took the guesswork out of this engagement for Ms. Dhesi, allowing the focus to be on hiring the right person for each job. A number of skilled candidates were put forward for the greeter and lot associate positions, with three being selected for seasonal hires. According to Ms. Dhesi, all associates hired through RWA have certainly met their expectations. And where accommodations were required, RWA and their partner employment agencies worked with the managers to provide the support which allows the three new associates to thrive.
According to the Ms. Dhesi, the success of hiring inclusively relies upon the employer commitment to give an equal chance to people from diverse backgrounds. The contribution of all individuals must be considered in terms of their strengths and challenges, and not some preconceived idea of ability and disability. Being a partner with a program such as RWA ensures that businesses like The Home Depot are supported in their goal of providing an inclusive workplace for all employees.
RWA has supported a variety of Canadian businesses (big and small) to hire candidates with an intellectual disability or on the autism spectrum for almost 2500 jobs. Operating in 20 communities across the country, RWA is uniquely positioned to support employers in hiring inclusively in locations across Canada. Amongst these employers RWA partners on a corporate level with large national employers like The Home Depot, enabling these employers to gain access to the support and strategy needed to make real their organization’s commitment to inclusion across many locations.