In 2013, Mark Wafer (a Rotarian from Ontario) was invited to the Lower Mainland to speak about how hiring individuals with disabilities is good for business. Mark Wafer knows what it’s like to have a disability as he has only 20% of his hearing. Mark owns seven Tim Horton’s restaurants and has the stats to prove that there is lower turnover, improved staff morale, better sales and has established that to replace and train a new employee it costs roughly $4000. He treats every employee the same and they must meet the standards set. The Community Living BC (CLBC) Community Councils were contacted, and Mark Wafer was invited to speak to our local community. Inspired by Mark Wafer’s message, a unique partnership and organizing committee was formed between CLBC, Rotary Club of Surrey, City of Surrey (Measuring Up Committee) and Milieu Family Services. Building on this momentum, the organizing committee decided to hold an inaugural awards event in 2014.
In 2014, the organizing committee welcomed the Surrey Board of Trade who joined our unique partnership for one year and became the major event sponsor. The Rotary at Work initiative also played an initial role by providing certificates to all award nominees. The keynote speaker, Ellen Pekeles, Vancity’s Senior VP of Operations, mentioned her background in health care, and spoke on Vancity’s inclusive employee protocol.
"Great leaders treat everyone equally, build on people’s strengths and hire employees who complement their skills." - Ellen Pekeles
Three business and one non-profit award were chosen. The Rotary Club of Surrey also awarded a $1000 bursary to Orville and Ruth Lee Consulting, who operate health care and social assistance for people with developmental disabilities.
In 2015, the organizing committee welcomed WorkBC Employment Services Centre, and a Rotary at Work BC Coordinator. The major sponsorship was provided by Vancity.
Gordon Ross, Director of Employment Initiatives (Inclusion BC) addressed the audience in his keynote speech on the ‘Ready, Willing and Able’ initiative. The event attendance surpassed expectations, selling out at 160 attendees.
Four business and one non-profit award were chosen. The Rotary Club of Surrey also awarded a $1000 bursary to the LEAP* program of the Delta Community Living Society (DCLS).
*The Leading Employment and Achieving Possibilities (LEAP) pilot project will support young adults who are transitioning from school to work.
The 3rd Annual Inclusive Employer Awards event celebrated September’s BC Disability Employment Month and kicked off October’s Community Living month in BC as well as National Disability Employment Awareness month. The September 29, 2016 event recognized Surrey, Delta and White Rock employers for their innovative and inclusive business practices. Over 150 people attended an awards dinner at the Surrey Arts Centre, celebrating 40 business nominees who have created meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Winners of a unique award gathered together, many accompanied by the excited employees who had nominated them:
Less than 10 Employees: Big Pete’s Liquor Store, Greg Mahony
11-50 Employees: Tile Town Ltd., Mike Scardina
51-100 Employees: Valley Driving School, Lexi Danielson
100+ Employees: Morrison Healthcare-COMPASS GROUP CANADA-Peace Arch Hospital, Nancy Baxter
Non-profit: Reach Child and Youth Development-Early Intervention Services, Sherrie Jamieson
All nominees received an inclusive employer display for their workplace. See the complete list of nominees at www.employerawards.ca .
Sponsored by Vancity, WCG Services, GARRY THIND, Personal Real Estate Corporation, and Media Sponsor SURREY604, the event included written congratulations from Hon. Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, remarks from the Mayor of Surrey’s office, Vancity Board Director Lily Grewal, and Community Living BC VP of Strategic Initiatives Jack Styan.
The 3rd Annual Inclusive Employer Awards featured a 5-member panel presentation representing topics ranging from large and small business philosophy and success stories; available assistive technologies; guidance for employers on employee mental health issues; and provincial systems and services that are in place for an employer or employee.
The Inclusive Employer Awards (formerly Innovative Labour Solutions Awards-ILSA) has grown since its beginnings in 2013, when Mark Wafer, a leading national employment advocate and businessman, was invited to speak at a local event about how hiring adults with disabilities contributes to his business success. The event’s goal is to promote inclusive hiring and showcase businesses that go above and beyond to make it a reality. Employers are recognized for their efforts to create a culture of inclusiveness, implement innovative solutions, modify training and support, acknowledge increased productivities and revenues, and follow Provincial employment standards.
The 3rd Annual Inclusive Employer Awards was the result of a collaborative effort by the City of Surrey, Measuring Up Committee, Rotary Club of Surrey, Milieu Family Services, Community Living BC and Surrey Work BC Employment Services Centres. For more information about how to become an inclusive employer, contact Community Living BC, Surrey office at 604-501-8310 or go to www.communitylivingbc.ca