Businesses Honoured at 2018 Inclusive Employers Excellence Awards

Published On October 9th 2018

There was a festive atmosphere at Browns Social House in Abbotsford as several businesses were honoured at the Inclusive Employers Excellence Awards on Wednesday, October 3rd. In addition to the award winners, other business leaders, Mayor Henry Braun, and several members of Abbotsford city council were in attendance to celebrate and be inspired by those in the Abbotsford community who have made inclusive hiring a part of their business model.

The keynote speaker, Mohammad Kallas, with CIBC, talked about how the bank has made it a priority to ensure that they have a diverse staff team nation-wide. This is more than mere optics, he said, but integral to how this financial institution delivers its services.

“Success depends on a leader who can look past stereotypes and stigma to the unique talent that each person has,” he said. “This makes us good employers and makes us look at our client needs differently as well.”

The 2018 Inclusive Employer of the Year Award went to Cineplex and was received by Jamie Sadler-French. In an earlier interview, Sadler-French said that hiring inclusively has been a very positive experience.

“People with diverse abilities are good employees,” she said. “They are eager to work and are dependable.”

Other businesses who were celebrated included:

  • The Grounds Guys – for Outstanding Commitment to Inclusive Hiring
  • Value Village – for Creative Workplace Solutions
  • Starbucks (two locations) – for Corporate Leadership in Inclusive Hiring
  • Spaghetti Factory – for Individual Commitment to Inclusive Hiring

Along with an excellent meal prepared by the staff of Browns Social House, the audience was treated to a performance by the Mayday Youth Club Choir, made up of people who live with neurodiversity and their siblings. The choir director, Nicole Provost, said that there is a 75% unemployment rate amongst people who live with neurodiversity. Part of the purpose of her choir is to showcase the abilities of those who may live with challenges.

“Inclusive hiring makes a big difference,” she said. “It’s good for people but also good for the economy.

Lance Green, who accepted one of the awards for Starbucks, spoke of Colton, a young man who lives out the values of their company.

“Our goal as a company is to inspire and nurture those who come into our Starbucks locations, but honestly, Colton inspires and nurtures us as staff,” Green said. “No one wears the green apron with more pride than Colton and he truly creates a culture of warmth and belonging for all our customers.”

Chris and Juanita Draaistra who own The Grounds Guys spoke similarly of the people who live with developmental disabilities who are employed in their business.

“It’s an honour to receive this award but honestly it’s a greater honour to have these guys working for us, seeing the joy on their faces when I deliver their pay cheques, knowing that their work with us gives them a reason to get up every morning and do a good job,” he said.

The 2nd Annual Inclusive Employers Excellence awards were presented by Abbotsford Community Services, AbbotsfordWORKS, and Communitas Supportive Care Society. Click here to see more photos from the event.