Congratulations to 2015 Small Business Nominee, Scene Magazine. The Small Business Award recognizes a company under 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.
Nominee: Scene Magazine
Representative: Bret Downe, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Can you tell us a little about your business?
Scene was founded in November, 1988, and the first issue was published on March 23, 1989.
The backbone of Scene’s editorial is comprised of London event listings.
The events are presented in four distinct sections; Social Life, City Hall, Pop entertainment and Arts & Culture.
The listings are all-inclusive, meaning they include all events that are open to the public.
I chose to make the listings both comprehensive and inclusive in order to fully reflect the opportunities available for everyone both living in and visiting London to get involved, celebrate and enjoy being in London.
How long have you been in business?
How many employees do you have?
The number of people who work to produce Scene is about 20.
Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities?
In the summer of 1979, I was employed by the London & District Association for the Mentally Retarded. My job was to help develop a market for products that were being produced by trainable adults and staff.
Next, in 1989, I approached Hutton House and asked them if they could help me process copies of Scene that needed to be delivered via Canada Post, outside the city.
Most recently, I again approached Hutton House about helping with the delivery of hard copies of Scene, in London.
If yes, how did your experience help shape your outlook?
The experience working with the association helped me to become confident in my abilities to communicate and interact appropriately with people who self-identified as having a disability.
Consequently, on every occasion when I have been given the opportunity to work with Hutton House I have had no hesitation in pursuing those opportunities.
What were your initial feelings on hiring someone with a disability?
Because of my experience, working at the association, I had no reservations about approaching Hutton House.
Once I had made contact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the process of hiring the people was less onerous than I had anticipated; the tasks of screening and managing the people ongoing, was assumed by the staff at Hutton House.
Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?
I needed people to help me in my business and, as it turned out, the people who could provide the best results could only be sourced through Hutton House.
How did you go about finding the right person for the job?
I made a phone call to Hutton House and spoke with Gord Fansher. We subsequently met at his office and, with the help of his associates, Hutton House developed a job description, confirmed the description with me and then proceeded to source the people within their organization who would be the best fit.
Can you describe one of the positions filled?
How have these employees worked out for you?
Honestly, Scene has never received better service.
Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a disability?
Because of my prior experience, I had no preconceptions.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you hear other employers talk about when they hear you’ve hired people with disabilities?
Rather than say anything, the response has been silence. It’s my impression that people are unsure about how to respond and so they just don’t say anything. Working with those who have disabilities has not been part of the experience of most people I do business with.
How do you attempt to correct these misconceptions?
I simply talk about the results I have experienced with Hutton House.
What is your advice for other employers?
My advice would be to include Hutton House as part of their search.
Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because…”
My business is strengthened, people who are not being given the opportunity to engage in a meaningful occupation are being given that opportunity and, as a result, our community is strengthened, overall.
What does being nominated for the Champion Awards mean to your business?
Actually, it is an honour.
I am grateful for this recognition.