Work from home an advantage for people with disabilities? Maybe.

About the author : Vincent Meehan

Vice President IS&T at Sodexo Canada

Published on : 6/25/21
  • The workplace is transforming and shifting to prepare for a new future. We don’t fully know what this will look like yet, but we do know that focus on employee well-being is at the forefront. How do we ensure people stay engaged, motivated, happy and healthy… wherever they work. And with these new models of change and advancement, how are persons with disabilities considered? How do we create environments that are open, inclusive and accessible for everyone to have meaningful participation and inclusion at work?

    I recently participated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities Conference of States and Parties #14. This session focused on the role of the private sector as the global economy emerges from COVID-19. I was privileged to be a part of this panel discussion, to provide insight into what Sodexo Canada is doing to build back organizations to ensure that people with disabilities are a part of the work and how we are creating inclusive and accessible environments.

    Sodexo has been committed to supporting persons with disabilities for many years. This includes non-discrimination policies, providing training and support and building out our network. We take it one step at a time and set objectives for our organization to achieve. It’s really about collaboration, all levels of the organization and all stakeholders need to be involved to create an inclusive environment for all.


    Technology and inclusion

    As an IT guy, I know that Sodexo needs to leverage technology to enable progress, not discourage it. There is a mind-boggling array of tools available for people with disabilities, enhancing their already high level of productivity. Most of us don’t know these tools exist because we don’t need them. From a COVID-19 perspective, we are all much more comfortable working from home now, and this increase comfort level comes opportunity for people with disabilities who may have mobility issues. We need to leverage this technology as we move forward into the “new” normal, considering the well-being of all employees.


    AI, recruitment and biases

    Looking at barriers in recruitment, in hiring and retaining employees, is not something new, but how we adapt and move forward in this area is constantly shifting. At Sodexo Canada we are looking at this process and reviewing our strategy from end-to-end using a critical inclusive eye. Biases exist in everything we do; however, moving to AI, from one bias to another, is not progress. We need to ensure the rules that govern ai are inclusive and that we have options to bypass AI. Combining AI with current best practices is not an easy task, but something we are working on.  

    At Sodexo Canada, we’ve hired so many people with disabilities, but we need to do so much more. I am honoured to be a part of these discussions to hear about what other companies are doing and key learnings from across the globe. I hope others can learn from what we are doing here at Sodexo Canada. There is no doubt that the global pandemic has shifted the way we work, but as move into a new normal, it’s important to look at how COVID-19 has impacted people with disabilities and how we, as a company, can advocate for an inclusive environment. 

    Find out more about how Sodexo is providing opportunities for people with disabilities.