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Inclusivity and Accessibility: A Smart Business Decision

If there were an untapped multi-billion-dollar market, would you want to know about it? Would you want to know if you were inadvertently blocking those consumers from doing business with you? And would you try to get ahead of your competitors by courting them?

That market is Canadians living with disabilities. It’s no niche market: one in five Canadians has a disability. And they represent purchasing power worth a whopping $55 billion annually.

Now, factor in the following:

– More than one in three seniors has a disability; and

– With baby boomers getting older, seniors are the fastest growing population segment in Ontario.

The people with a disability (PWD) market is huge, under-served and growing. It all adds up to a considerable opportunity for businesses that are ready to become more accessible and inclusive.

Preparing your business to make the jump to inclusivity is a smart business decision. It is estimated that by 2035, 40 per cent of Ontario’s consumer base will be people with disabilities—that’s a huge chunk of the market that no business can afford to lose.

In addition to the power of people with disabilities themselves, there’s yet another benefit to adopting better accessibility and inclusivity: other consumers.

While these other consumers may not have a disability themselves, many have friends and family members who do. Combined with the purchasing power of PWDs, this group represents a massive $366 billion market.

And it extends further as well—78 per cent of Canadians are more likely to buy from a business with a policy of hiring PWDs over a company that doesn’t.

All of these statistics illustrate the business case for inclusivity.

“As much as it is a nice thing to do, as much as doing any of this corporate social responsibility work is nice to do, the reason we’re doing it is because the marketplace demands it,” explains Katherine Power, Vice President, Communications & Corporate Affairs, Sodexo Canada.

Sodexo is leading the charge in hiring PWD, and they’re reaping the benefits of it. Read more about Sodexo’s successes here.

“The more people that we have as part of that workforce that have disabilities, the better customer satisfaction we have,” says Katherine.

Sodexo’s experience mirrors what the statistics say: “People like to see that we’re the kind of company that hires all kinds of people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.”

So what can your business do to become more inclusive and accessible?  A good starting point is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The AODA aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for Ontarians with disabilities, with a goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025.  The Standards under the Act contain the rules businesses and organizations must follow to identify, prevent and remove barriers for people with disabilities. The legislation also spells out reporting requirements that all companies with 20 or more staff must file a compliance report by December 31, 2017. The report can be accessed at: www.ontario.ca/accessibility.

For more information check out the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Enabling Change webinars by clicking here.

Or if you are interested in hiring persons with disabilities check out: discoverability.network.

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