Are you prepared for conversations about accommodation? It is broadly understood that employers have a responsibility to meet the unique needs of each and every employee.
We are most familiar with health and safety considerations and accommodation related to wheelchair accessibility, and perhaps IT support for hearing and visual challenges, as well as the effect medications can have on physical and mental functioning in the workplace.
It is important to consider what accommodation is not. The Canadian Mental Health Association’s report on diversity and accommodation addresses this: “The fact that some of your employees may see accommodation as preferential treatment represents a major challenge for employers. Education and discussion are the keys to eliminating wrong assumptions about people with special needs…In the past, we have tended to view them as recipients of health and social services, rather than as potential contributors to Canada’s economy…they are not receiving privileges, but rather entitlements, and the goal is not to provide advantage, but equitable access.”1
Human rights protections already safeguard the rights of LGBTQ and transgender individuals. Employers have a human rights obligation to provide an inclusive work environment free from discrimination for all.
How can conversations about accommodation lead to affirmative hiring outcomes?
All of the job applicants in the exercise were both well qualified and had specific issues that would need to be addressed in their workplace. Think how much would be lost if they were disqualified from employment for those reasons – for them and their families, but also for the organization and for the workforce in general.
No-one can be an expert at everything, but as we get to know our colleagues as individuals we will learn what they need as well as all that they bring to our team.
1 Canadian Mental Health Association Report on Diversity