Congratulations to 2015 Large Business Nominee, ZTR Control Systems. The Large Business Award recognizes a company over 50 employees, that develops and applies the concept of ability first and best practices in recruitment, retention, and talent management.
The annual Ability First Coalition Champion Awards celebrate and honour businesses, companies, individuals and organizations that have hired and retained people with disabilities in London, Ontario and surrounding area.
Company: ZTR Control Systems
Representative: Tracey Paddison, HR Manager
Can you tell us a little about your business?
ZTR Control Systems leads the way with our equipment management solutions in both Industrial Internet of Things and Locomotive Modernization. With hundreds of thousands of installations around the world, industry giants in various industries including rental, oil and gas, power generation and railways depend on our personalized solutions to improve the reliability and performance of their equipment. On our quest to find the best and brightest, we look for innovators and because we want them to stay, we work hard to ensure our company culture is unparalleled.
How long have you been in business?
How many employees do you have?
Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities?
We do. We have worked with Hutton House for placements in the past as well as for screening and hiring our college and university co-op students. Our ZTR Community Giving Committee partners with a number of agencies, both financially and through volunteering, who support individuals with different challenges.
How did this experience help shape your outlook?
Everyone has challenges. Overcoming those challenges, whether they are physical, mental, financial, or any number of life experiences, is commendable and we all need to empathize and understand when someone needs a little help or just a break. Recognizing someone’s strength and drive to succeed inspires us all.
In a previous position, I was asked to hire seven employees with disabilities, train them and oversee them. It was daunting at first but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my career.
What were your initial feelings on hiring someone with a disability?
If we have a candidate that requires special accommodations, we immediately consider what we need to do to facilitate that person, both in the interview stages and if they are the successful candidate. We may question whether we are properly equipped or if we need to acquire special tools for assistance.
Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?
We always look for the best candidate and to find the right fit to work within our organization. We didn’t decide to hire someone with a disability. We look at all candidates equally and give each and every one of our candidates an opportunity. Often we don’t know someone has a challenge unless they tell us. We will accommodate the best candidate for the position.
How did you go about finding the right person(s) for the job?
We use traditional HR recruiting methods and we have collaborated with Hutton House, as well as other recruiting agencies.
Can you describe one of the positions filled?
One of the positions we filled was a Production Assembler in our Production department.
How has this employee worked out for you?
This individual has impressed us so much with his work ethic, commitment to the company, ability to coach and mentor student hires and friendly and approachable personality. He began as a three-month contract employee, was then hired full time and he now been promoted to a team lead position overseeing a team of seven.
Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a disability?
We thought it may only be temporary. With this in mind, our approach is always to try our best to give the candidate confidence and additional skills.
How has working with someone with a disability changed these?
We still go through the same process. We consider ourselves a progressive and aware company but as perceptions change, we evolve to meet the needs of the individual. We are innovative in our approach to both business and employees. The secret is to listen and learn.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you hear other employers talk about when they hear you’ve hired people with disabilities?
They often assume it’s a physical disability.
How do you attempt to correct these misconceptions?
Our HR department has an open door and open mind policy, meaning changes in perception happen through conversations. People can’t change what they don’t know. Being open and suspending judgement of trepidations or lack of knowledge opens the door to change.
What is your advice for other employers?
Keep an open mind and value individuals on merit.
Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because…”
I hire for Ability First because in the end, it’s the ABILITY that really matters.
What does being nominated for the Champion Awards mean to your business?
This nomination gives our company a sense of pride, however, we feel fortunate to employ these outstanding individuals and that they have chosen our company to work for. This is just what we do.
We are overwhelmed by the gratefulness and appreciation of our employees.
It is indeed inspiring to see ALL of our employees grow and flourish.
Our success is a testament to their hard work, each and every one of them.