The Ontario Disability Employment Network is a professional body of employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. With over 100 member agencies, all in the business of helping people with a disability get into the workforce, ODEN is all about connecting employees and employers for excellence in employment practices and a healthy bottom line.
The annual Rethinking Disabilities Conference (RDC) combines recognition of what has been achieved with encouraging and challenging presentations and perspectives on how to keep evolving, adapting, and innovating. There is also a ceremony for additions to the Business Champions League, an honour that is bestowed on a select few, and carries with it a serious responsibility.
Many leading Ontario businesses have seen enhanced business performance through diverse and innovative employment practices that include employees with disabilities. ODEN created the Champions League to both recognize these leaders and to create a comradery and collegiality among them, providing support both to each other and to ODEN in its efforts to promote inclusive hiring practices. The champions are also committed to supporting other businesses that are motivated to engage people with disabilities in their workforce.
2018 inductee Anthony Taza from Costco in Ottawa was welcomed by ODEN Executive Director Joe Dale and existing members of the Champions League Mark Wafer, Virginia Ludy, and Andrew Bearss at an evening ceremony on October 17, before an enthusiastic audience of conference delegates. Costco has welcomed and benefited from hiring employees with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities who have been introduced by LiveWorkPlay. During his acceptance speech, Mr. Taza mentioned Daniel Pinsonneault, who recently joined Costco full-time, and the beneficial relationship with our organization.
As mentioned, helping to welcome Anthony was Champions League member Andrew Bearss from Dow Honda, also from Ottawa, and also sharing a connection with LiveWorkPlay. Mr. Bearss participated on a panel to talk about his own journey and the success of Dow Honda and other area dealerships in the hiring of people with disabilities. Andrew is one of the founding members of the LiveWorkPlay Private Sector Employment Task Force, and participated in the popular Hire for Talent video series along with owner Jeff Mierins, and employee Frances Laube.
The excitement of RDC is timed to coincide with Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) highlights the abilities and talents of people who have a disability in the workplace, and takes place during October across Canada. For businesses, DEAM showcases innovative hiring techniques, alongside a strong business case, and presents resources for business owners and Human Resource Professionals (including LiveWorkPlay employment services!) to effectively engage this talent pool.
Follow the DEAM campaign and share stories of inclusive workspaces during October on social media using the hashtags #DEAM and #EngageTalent. ODEN itself can also can be found on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.