BACI hosts Appreciative Inquiry summit to advance employment

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Conversations taking place across province to engage people around what works for inclusive hiring practices
Tuesday July 3, 2012 — Camille Jensen

BURNABY, B.C. – Imagine it’s the year 2013 and British Columbia has the highest number of people with a disability employed in North America. What would that look and feel like, and what enabled this to happen?

These are some of the appreciative questions people answered as part of a province-wide initiative to boost employment for people who have a disability.

Community Living BC (CLBC) vice-president of strategic initiatives Jack Styan introduced the initiative at Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI)’s general meeting June 27. He says employment is an important element in most people’s lives, not only providing them with money but also friends and greater self-esteem.

But many people who want work have a hard time finding it. Though much progress on employment for people who have a disability has been made in B.C., more work needs to be done to ensure more people are included in the workplace.

More than 50 people participated in BACI’s Appreciative Inquiry conversations.

Self-advocates, families, service providers and CLBC came together to launch the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model, which is bringing together people across the province for conversations exploring what’s worked in the past, and what inclusive workplaces would look like in the future.

“Appreciative Inquiry is based on the idea that everyone in this room has something to contribute to the discussion, and in fact if we want to make a difference we need to get everyone on the same page working on it,” Jack told the more than 50 participants.

“If we do this all across B.C., and everyone gets working on it, than we think we can have a real impact.”

Kevin Lusignan, BACI’s senior manager of social and economic inclusion, was on the original committee members exploring how to advance economic inclusion. He says they choose AI because it’s an inclusive process that involves many people, and looks to discover things at their best.

Kevin Lusignan and Jack Styan present on the community action employment plan.

“There’s been a lot of good work done in BC with respect to employment so really it’s about learning what’s the best of that?,” Kevin tells BACI Blast. “It’s a positive process, and . . . it looks to see what’s the positive core of something is.

“And once you identify that, than you can grow it. Rather than try to focus on what’s wrong.”

Participants sat at tables with five to six others to work through a series of questions digging into changing attitudes, transitions and inclusive workplaces. The conversations were facilitated by a table host who recorded the key insights and learnings.

The information will be used to create a community action employment plan that will be unveiled in October during a summit of 100 people including service providers, families and self-advocates.

Jack says the community action employment plan’s goal is to create the highest rate of employment among people with developmental disabilities in three years.

“If we can do that, 2,200 jobs in three years, B.C. will have the highest rate of employment of any jurisdiction in North America,” says Jack.

— More to Come

If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail camille(at)axiomnews.ca.

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