TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 2, 2012) - Despite the challenges small business owners say they expect to face in attracting and retaining talented employees in 2013, a growing cohort of highly educated, capable, and readily available workers are being entirely overlooked -- people with a disability.
In BMO's 2012 Commercial Study on Hiring Persons with a Disability, owners said that their number-one challenge in 2013 will be to find educated, talented and capable people who can help them fill the jobs that their growing businesses will create. Business owners polled from across Canada said that attracting and retaining employees ranked ahead of raising revenue, weathering through the economy, managing operating costs and improving productivity as their greatest business challenge.
At the same time, more than half of those surveyed reported never having hired someone with a disability; with the main reason cited being they don't know how to recruit them.
These findings come in advance of Small Business Week and during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Now in its third year, NDEAM was introduced to increase employers' understanding of the positive outcomes of hiring persons with a disability.
According to the BMO survey, 77 per cent of small business owners who have hired people with a disability said these employees either met (62 per cent) or exceeded (15 per cent) their expectations. Yet a disproportionate number of highly capable, educated and driven Canadians remain unemployed. On average, people with disabilities who are able to work are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population.
"This persistent unemployment gap needs to be addressed for many reasons," said Sonya Kunkel, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at BMO. "It can take a social and economic toll on these workers and their families. It costs government and tax payers money unnecessarily, and it robs Canadian businesses and our economy of the vital contribution persons with a disability are ready and able to make.
"Competitiveness, the growing knowledge-based economy and demographic shifts are changing not just the types of jobs being created across the country, but also intensifying the need for companies to embrace innovation," said Steve Murphy, Senior Vice-President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "In fact, many of Canada's most successful and fastest-growing companies are innovation-focused and depend on the diversity of their employees' skills and knowledge to both develop new products and services and improve their productivity. People with disabilities are a vastly untapped pool of talent and can be a tremendous resource for those companies who are serious about innovation and growth."
An audio news release is also available.
The telephone survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights between August 13 and September 5, using a sample of 500 Canadian business owners. Results carry a margin of error of ±4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at July 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.