According to Michael Smith, a Sodexo supervisor at London Health Sciences, people with disabilities are a massive source of untapped talent. He’s committed to unearthing that talent and providing people with visible and invisible disabilities with a meaningful chance to contribute and thrive.
Michael has a wealth of experience working with people who have disabilities and was excited to join Sodexo in January, 2016, after learning how important a diverse and inclusive employee base is to the Sodexo culture.
At London Health Sciences, Sodexo has about 250 employees and 3-5% have a disability. As one of the people responsible for hiring, Michael ensures that everyone on the team has the same values, regardless of whether they have a disability.
“Whenever I hire someone I always look for someone who is driven and who is willing to learn and accept new opportunities,” says Michael. “I have learned to ask targeted questions to find out how passionate they are about their work, achieving high standards and being a team player. I like to encourage people to learn more and really go that extra step.”
In Michael’s experience, employees who have disabilities are usually willing to accept as many shifts as they can handle. They display an eagerness to learn and are willing to accept any form of work assignment. In addition, they are always on time, rarely call in sick and are extremely reliable.
In terms of accommodations required to hire people with disabilities, Michael says there are very few and they usually have zero or little cost. Job training is a good example. Michael and his team aim to provide job training in a variety of ways to accommodate people who learn differently. This applies to all new hires.
“We always conduct our training in three different ways – written, visual and hands-on,” says Michael. “We all learn in our own unique way and our team wants to ensure everyone receives instructions in the manner they can best learn from.”
Team work is an important theme at London Health Sciences. Whenever possible employees try and take breaks together so they can spend time getting to know each other on a personal level. It is like an extended family.
Word is getting around. Most of the people with disabilities who apply for jobs with Sodexo hear about the opportunities through families, friends, co-workers and neighbours who know someone with a disability. “We couldn’t be prouder than to be known as an inclusive and open employer,” says Michael. “We never judge. We encourage and help each other. It makes us strong.”