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Creating a Culture of Workforce Inclusion

An inclusive culture is a workplace culture that is supportive of and respectful toward all employees.

What is a culture of workforce inclusion?

Organizations with inclusive cultures embrace differences in backgrounds and experiences and make a committed effort to ensure everyone has equitable access at work.

How do we create and foster a culture of inclusion?

We believe that fostering a culture of inclusion can be distilled into what we call the Four Pillars of Accessible and Inclusive Employment. Each pillar is equally important when creating accessible employment for people with disabilities.

Our four pillars are Commitment, Readiness, Recruitment and Retention.

COMMITMENT - Commit to being an inclusive employer. This includes:

  • Creating a commitment to be inclusive which is fully supported by senior leaders;

  • Create employment opportunities for candidates with diverse abilities;

  • Valuing a diverse talent pool with recruitment focused on ability in relation to the job;

  • Exploring and developing community partnerships.

READINESS - Get ready for change by preparing to shift long-held beliefs about people with disabilities and diverse abilities. This includes:

  • Designating a DEI Lead to facilitate the developed strategic plan with the leadership team;

  • Apply a change management process, preparing hiring managers to shift practices;

  • Provide training and education for leaders and staff to support skills development and a culture of inclusion;

  • Develop and implement recruitment best practices to hire people with diverse abilities.

RECRUITMENT - Adapting the recruitment process to hire diverse talent includes:

  • Actively recruiting people with diverse abilities for career opportunities;

  • Engaging different interview styles and approaches;

  • Encourage and support proactive disclosure of abilities in relation to the position;

  • Screening in candidates instead of screening out to build candidate pools (which often proves to be more difficult in this labour market).

RETENTION - Ensuring full engagement of diverse talent throughout the employment lifecycle, including:

  • Actively fostering a culture of inclusion within the workplace to retain talent;

  • Ensuring adjustments are in place prior to candidate start dates– setting people with diverse abilities up for continued success;

  • Continually providing new employees with appropriate supports and resources;

  • Building internal momentum and capacity.

Applying the Four Pillars takes time.

Perhaps you already have a senior leadership team committed to hiring diverse talent but don't have an understanding of what people with disabilities need to succeed in your organization. Or maybe you have the tools you need to get started but lack proven commitment from your stakeholders to prioritize hiring people with disabilities.

Whatever the case, we know from experience that applying the Four Pillars Model is a cyclical process, meaning - we find most of our Employer Partners return to various pillars throughout their journey towards becoming more inclusive and accessible employers. Our commitment can always be renewed, our readiness is always improved and updated when new research arrives. Our recruitment efforts shift to meet fluctuating demands and retention is a life-long business practice.

When we work to sustain each pillar, fostering a culture of inclusion becomes second nature.

Interested in implementing The Four Pillars Model where you work?

Get in touch with one of the Inclusive Workforce Specialists in your area to find out how we can support you with our accessible recruitment, retention, training and consulting services for employers in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.


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Read the Workplace Adjustments Series

Every week, CAN WiN publishes a new Workplace Adjustment tip for our Employer Partners. Stay up to date on workplace accommodations recommended by the Job Accommodation Network.


Do you want to be a more inclusive and accessible employer?

Take this 15-minute Disability Inclusive Employer Self-Assessment to gain a deeper understanding of where you’re doing well and where there’s room to improve.

Open Door Group and Presidents Group collaborated on this tool, created from recent international research on practices that truly increase inclusion and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace.

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