Strategy

The CEO Poll: CEOs left out of disability talks

Executives aren't happy with government consultation on disability regulations.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

Canadian CEOs think that governments could do a much better job in terms of consulting businesses about disability-related regulations. A recent COMPAS Inc. poll showed the execs gave governments a score of 27.6% for their performance in this area — the third-lowest rating the panel has given in nearly a decade.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that executives think more legislation is needed to promote the hiring of disabled people. “To introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination or mandating equipping the workplace for those with disabilities is a slippery slope that will not result in a positive outcome,” said one respondent. Another executive added that companies need to take the initiative themselves in seeking out a broader range of candidates. “Perhaps there needs to be more promotion and pursuit by organizations in the placement of disabled persons.”

CEOs were asked to rank the barriers they face in terms of hiring people with disabilities on a 7-point scale, where 7 means major barrier and 1, the opposite. Their top concern, which scored a mean of 5.8, was that disciplining or firing under-performing disabled employees has greater legal risks, followed by the concern that the same situations would cause greater public-relations risks, scoring a mean of 5.7. Financial costs of employing the disabled was next on the list of concerns, with the cost of physical accommodations scoring a mean of 5.4. Other barriers were the cost of extra training, orientation and mentoring, and creating special hiring and training programs, which each scored a mean of 5.3.

Some business leaders said due to the manual labour of their work, it is impossible to employ the disabled. “I am a small-business owner in the construction/contracting sector,” said one exec. “We cannot accommodate those with disabilities. This must be taken into consideration when legislating.”

However, another exec warned that due to the coming labour shortage, businesses wanting to survive will have to become more accommodating to the handicapped or they will “suffer the consequences.”