Shaping Inclusive Employment for Tomorrow (SHIFT) is a joint initiative of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and the Government of Canada. The purpose of this initiative is to help increase the number of inclusive employers in Canada.

What is an inclusive employer?

Most employers in Canada have diverse work forces. More diverse than they know. Some of their employees attend work with mental and physical health challenges that may not be apparent to others in the work place. Many employees have learning challenges that impact their ability to read. Different cultural backgrounds can make communication difficult. Some people face barriers due to gender, race or religion. Intellectual or physical challenges may also affect some employees without their employers’ knowledge.

Diversity is not the same as inclusivity. A diverse work force may be the result of random decisions or actions by an employer. An inclusive work place is one where the employer consciously and actively commits to the creation and maintenance of a work force where everyone feels that they are supported by and participate equally within their work environment. An inclusive work environment is the result of intentional actions by the employer. It is where everyone feels like they belong!

A person working in a diverse work place may feel different from other workers in ways that may not be recognized and supported by their work environment. Employees in an inclusive work place celebrate each other’s differences. Some employers with diverse work forces may seek to reduce or eliminate the possibility of treating employees differently. There are media stories almost daily of large companies with comprehensive anti-discrimination policies and training that are embroiled in human rights actions or wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

The SHIFT initiative offers a three step process for employers who want to find out more about becoming an inclusive employer. The first step is attending a Level 1 workshop, a free introductory workshop that is intended to begin the conversation, with second and third workshops tailored to meet a company’s specific needs and culture. SHIFT is about increasing the demand for employees of all types and population demographics. By successfully increasing the pool of knowledgeable, committed and actively inclusive employers we will increase the number of high quality and sustainable employment opportunities for all Canadians, whether they are from vulnerable populations or not.

For further information regarding SHIFT and how you can become involved please contact:

Kim Bechtel, SHIFT Influencer