Opening the Gateway to Diversity

 

An equal opportunity website rich in resources for employers, employees and job seekers.

As of November 19, new Ontario Equal Opportunity services are available, thanks to a partnership initiative with employers and employees, facilitated by the Government of Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

But what exactly does that mean? What does this ministry hope to achieve with its initiative? And how does equal opportunity translate into something meaningful for people with disabilities?

The ministry’s vision is to set up a system that allows employers to access information relating to equal opportunity in the workplace… and “opportunity” is the key word!

In Ontario, no employer is required to hire anybody to meet a quota in a specific target group (such as people with disabilities). But there is a solid business case for hiring a diverse work force, as it can translate into financial gains for a company.

The Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation realized that if it were to make information available relating to diversity in the workplace, it could help employers who are interested in hiring a diverse work force. But the information had to be presented to employers in a way that would let them get what they needed quickly and efficiently.

The government tailored its initiative to include disability issues in the workplace and were determined that the service would also be useful to people with disabilities. Hence, it incorporated a component that provides information to people with disabilities looking for employment, offers information on disability-related employment services and resources, and has relevant material for employers wanting to know more about hiring people with disabilities.

But how to provide this information in a quick, easy format? The answer: a website on the Internet, combined with a fax-on-demand service.

The benefit of a website is that it is practically a living entity. In other words, it is ever changing and growing — becoming more.

The Gateway to Diversity, Ontario’s Equal Opportunity website, has taken the shape of something much more than just an information resource. This website blends together learning opportunities, interaction, training resources and sharing of experience.

Within the website, there is: the Resource Centre, with an annotated bibliography of books, training resources and videos; a Link List to other relevant websites; a Calendar of Events; and current articles from newsletters and magazines on the topic of diversity and the inclusive workplace.

There is an Equal Opportunity section, with recent Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation press releases announcing the latest government initiatives, and other Ontario government ministry website links.

There is a business case for diversity by Dr. Jeffrey Gandz, Professor and Associate Dean of the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. There is a “Sharing the Experience” section, with examples of how many companies address barrier removal and job accommodation. This section also offers advice from various people with disabilities on how to access the work force through volunteering.

And there’s so much more…

The Gateway to Diversity website is also a way to communicate with other people searching for work, with employers, and with people whose business it is to provide job accommodation services. This interaction takes place in the Forum component of the website. Professionals can share ideas and challenges. There is opportunity to network — which, as we all know, is key to today’s job search!

The disability component within the website is a success because of the many people and organizations who are interested in and committed to employing people with disabilities and who have contributed to this section.

This component provides information for employers interested in hiring people with disabilities. It also provides information for people with disabilities looking for work. This section of the website addresses issues surrounding people with disabilities in the workplace and offers answers to common questions.

Recent research of common employment concerns has shown that there has been a real need for a directory of services in Ontario. Therefore, the establishment of such a resource has been facilitated. The Ontario Service Directory — with links throughout the disability component of the website — lists employment-related services and resources offered across the province to people with disabilities.

Using the service directory, someone who requires a specific service such as assessment or employment support, whether in their own city or another city, can learn what is available. This directory also helps people who have recently acquired a disability, and their employers, who want advice from service professionals when making job accommodations.

In order for this directory to stay as useful as possible, it needs to be nourished by all stakeholders. The directory is designed so that services can be added and changed easily and quickly — so that up-to-date information will always be at the users’ fingertips. If you feel you have a worthwhile employment-related service to offer, please feel free to add information about your company or organization to the service directory. You can also contact Gillian Lynne-Davies at the Canadian Abilities Foundation, (416) 923-9980.

You are urged to visit the Gateway to Diversity. Whether you are an employer with a disability, an employer interested in hiring someone with a disability, a job seeker with a disability, or an employee with a disability — there is relevant information for you!

Even if you live outside of Ontario, it is likely that you will find a trip through the Gateway to Diversity worthwhile. The website is rich in the way of resources that can be useful to you.

Being successful means being in the know. Come and surf!

At 2:00 p.m. on November 19, the Gateway to Diversity opened at http://www.equalopportunity.on.ca. For the automated information and fax-on-demand service, call (416) 325-4957 or, toll-free in Ontario, 1-888-325-4957.

For more information, write to: The Equal Opportunity Project, 7th Floor, 77 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M7A 2R9; e-mail: info@equalopportunity.on.ca.; TTY users: use Bell Canada Relay Service to call the Equal Opportunity voice numbers at (416) 314-6812 or, toll-free, 1-800-491-5104.

 

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