Every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month brings Saskatchewan residents together to recognize the positive contributions employees with disabilities have on the workplace.
The ability to secure and retain meaningful employment is still a very real challenge for people with disabilities. “SaskTel recognized there were external and internal barriers that limited the employment of individuals with disabilities, and in particular individuals with intellectual disabilities seemed to have a greater challenge to become employed within our organization,” says Director – HR (Staffing/OH&S/Environment), Sharon Davis.
Pictured: Sharon Davis, Director – HR (Staffing/OH&S/Environment)
Former HR Manager at SaskTel Kevan McBeth is the person who had the vision for SaskTel’s Supported Employment Program (SEP) and played an integral role in formalizing the partnership between SaskTel and the Saskatchewan Abilities Council in 2010.
Kevan says, “I started the Supported Employment Program because I saw that there were no opportunities for people like my daughter Lauryn, and others like her with Down Syndrome, Autism and other cognitive abilities to earn a meaningful wage doing meaningful work. I wanted SaskTel, one of the biggest employers in the province and a leader in our industry, to show everyone else that this kind of opportunity could be a reality for people like Lauryn.”
SaskTel created SEP to develop employment for candidates experiencing intellectual disabilities. The program connects SaskTel to individuals through community-based organizations that promote employment of individuals who experience disability and can support the individual as they are integrated into the workplace through job coaching. SaskTel works with each individual and their support to identify a candidate’s skill set and then seeks out possible areas of the organization that could benefit from their talents.
As one of several individuals under the program, Shea Mueller has been working at SaskTel for 12 years as a Pioneers Assistant. He is celebrated for the value he brings to the organization, his creative flair and his success as an athlete. At the Special Olympics Manitoba 2023 Winter Games he placed first in his division for the Intermediate Slalom, Intermediate Giant Slalom and Intermediate Super Gravity Slalom (Super G) events. Shea says, “SaskTel is a very understanding place to work and they will help you find a job that you like to do and can be good at.”
“This program has been so successful for SaskTel because of all the support throughout the company. It’s a corporate program not an HR program.” - Sharon Davis
Sharon says the positives that have come from this program are really tenfold. “From our CEO and executive, to our managers, to our union (Unifor) to job coaches, everyone has contributed in such a positive way.” The benefits the corporation has experienced from having an inclusive workplace are many, but to name a few; an increase in productivity, a collaborative culture and employees having a strong sense of belonging and pride in where they work.
“Many employees in the program have told me they love their job. They love coming to work every day, they feel valued by their peers and are proud to work for SaskTel.” - Sharon Davis
Sharon says, “I have worked at SaskTel for over 26 years now, mostly in HR in a variety of roles. I have to say being involved with SaskTel’s Supported Employment Program has been by far one of the most rewarding initiatives I have been involved with. It really is a program that changes people’s lives, not just the people we employ, but the positives extend beyond our employees to their families, their friends and also their co-workers right here at SaskTel."
SaskTel is committed to Making Saskatchewan Better and the Supported Employment Program is a prime example of how SaskTel continues to build an inclusive workplace that welcomes and celebrates people from a variety of backgrounds.
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