Vincent Meehan – Toronto, ON

Vincent Meehan, Director of IT support service for North America, is a numbers guy who cares.

He recently completed his MBA and his final thesis, entitled Driving business success: Leveraging the talents of people with disabilities, balanced his love of mathematics with his passion for supporting people with disabilities.

“From a business perspective, job turnover rates among employees with disabilities are extremely low,” says Vincent. “We also know that it costs Sodexo about $15,000 to find a new manager and $4,000 to replace a front-line employee. So when we reduce turnover costs by hiring people with disabilities there is potential to significantly reduce expenses.”

Hiring people with disabilities is not only a smart business decision, it also fuels a compassionate, supportive and inclusive work culture. As Vice-chair of Sodexo Canada’s ADEPT (All Disabled Employees Posses Talent) program, Vincent and his team strive to communicate these benefits to other Sodexo divisions and dispel any myths about what it’s like to work with people with disabilities.

“Our research shows that people with disabilities are extremely loyal to their employers,” says Vincent. “They come to work to work. They are punctual, rarely sick and absenteeism is extremely low.”

Another reason why Vincent is passionate about supporting people with disabilities is that his daughter, Jennifer, was born with Down syndrome. Today, Jennifer is 28 and thriving. However, when she was a little girl there were painful times when she was excluded from school activities.  One such occasion was when her grade one class made a green paper chain and Jennifer was not invited to participate. She was extremely upset and with good reason: Jennifer knew full well that she was capable of adding links to the chain.

Her experience with exclusion ultimately led to a symbolic tradition at Sodexo Canada. Hanging in Vincent’s office is a green paper chain and every time a new employee with a disability is hired, a new link is added. As of today, there are 101 employees with disabilities who work for Sodexo Canada and 34% of those hired have been promoted to more senior positions.

To continue building a strong and diverse workforce, Vincent and the ADEPT team have developed strong working relationships with organizations, like Ready Willing and Able, that are dedicated to helping companies connect with people with disabilities. Today, Sodexo is working with Ready, Willing and Able to identify candidates in 17 cities across Canada.

Another priority for the ADEPT team is conducting research to effectively make the case that hiring people with disabilities is a great business strategy. Vincent and his team understand the importance of experience-based evidence that demonstrates the power of inclusive hiring as a means to build highly engaged and productive teams.