Living our Values: Niagara Casinos Embraces Inclusion

Niagara Casinos has strong organizational values and it is these values that formed the foundation for a strategy to implement inclusive hiring.  Julia Tiessen, Senior Human Resources Operations Manager explains, “The return on investment we have experienced through hiring inclusively is a result of the commitment by individuals in our organization that want this program to succeed.”

Niagara Casinos operates two properties in Southern Ontario – Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara, employing over 4000 people and generating millions in economic benefits every year for the province of Ontario.

After being approached by Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) and hearing the business benefits of hiring inclusively, Julia and her team immediately engaged various departments to begin exploring labour needs and to identify potential opportunities. RWA is a national initiative that supports businesses of all sizes and industries to tap into the talents and strengths of individuals with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Shayne Fordy, Environmental Services Manager and Allan Moore, Stewarding Manager were involved in the recruitment and selection process. They worked closely with Julia in identifying the best candidates for the advertised positions and were ultimately successful in finding two strong applicants. For Shayne and Allan, being involved in this process allowed them to find the right fit for the positions available and to understand the benefits of being involved with RWA.

With some minor accommodations to the interview process and the hands-on, pragmatic support of Celine Hardy-Johnson from Community Living Port Colborne-Wainfleet, Niagara Casinos has hired two employees in their Environmental Services and Stewarding Departments. Both Ian and Reggie have been with the organization for just under one year and work 3-4 shifts per week during the casino’s busiest hours.

In his role as Environmental Services Associate, Ian is responsible for cleaning on the gaming floor and in public spaces. Shayne who is Ian’s manager describes him as “very well organized, very efficient, meticulous” and explains that “he has fit in with the team and is very good at what he does.”

In his role as Kitchen Worker, Reggie operates the 4800 sq. ft. dishwasher.  Allan, who is Reggie’s manager explains that this environment can be incredibly busy and at times overwhelming, however Reggie “didn’t bat an eye.”

Richard Taylor, President Niagara Casinos said, “A diverse workforce and the inclusion of talent from different backgrounds makes our organization stronger and we appreciate the contributions of those with different abilities.”

For Niagara Casinos, hiring inclusively has been “nothing but positive”. For Julia, Shayne and Allan, two core organizational factors have allowed them to tap into the benefits of hiring individuals with an intellectual disability or ASD – their organizational values and the organization’s commitment to and shared responsibility for creating an inclusive workplace. Shayne explains, “This isn’t just a place to work… a lot of the departments treat employees like family.”

Julia’s advice to other organizations who are considering hiring inclusively? “When you approach hiring inclusively with a strong commitment to the individuals and their success you are not only positively impacting your business but your community as well.”

Funded by the Government of Canada and active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is a national partnership of Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations.

To learn more about the rewards of inclusive hiring or to hear more about the experiences of Niagara Casinos, contact us today.