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Halifax Job Search Strategies Forum Report

Question and Answer and Group Discussion

One participant said sometimes when she discloses her disability, the response is “I’m exactly the same way,” or “Oh, we’re all the same; we’re all equal.” She said this attempt to make her feel comfortable “underestimates the magnitude” of her disability. She asked the panel how they would handle the situation.

Nisar said this response is well-intentioned, but not well thought through. Stonier said “I would call them on it.”

An employer can never completely understand an applicant’s condition, said Reynolds. While she would never use those phrases, she suggested applicants consider social norms and the context in which the statement was made. “Don’t take it too personally,” she said.

One participant asked for more information about workplace accommodations.

Reynolds said in her experience it is often very simple to make accommodations for employees. “We do accommodations with changing situations,” said Reynolds. Workplaces make accommodations for injuries, aging workers, pregnancy and the like—not just for the disabled. Reynolds said HRM would never screen applicants out for the accommodations they might need.

Nisar said in large corporations if a disabled worker can only do 90% of the position’s duties, job sharing is a common solution.

“What do you look for, by way of teamwork and interactive skills, if an applicant has a disability that precludes that being a top skill?” asked an applicant.

Reynolds said HRM looks at two core competencies: teamwork, and diversity. A team can consist of two people, and can function in or out of the workplace. Teamwork may just involve a telephone call, said Nisar. It can also be non-verbal, such as two pharmacists knowing when and how to help each other when the workplace gets busy.


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