Tuesdays at Ten: Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce
Feb 02, 2016

The Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce is an independent, membership funded, non-profit organization that represents Strathroy and area businesses. They are the voice of business, dedicated to anticipating and serving the needs of their members and the community. The Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce fosters a supportive environment for business and investment within the District through networking, training and education, advocacy, and providing valued services to their members.

Many of our local Chamber Members do hire people with disabilities and we’d like to see that number grow.

On February 2, 2016 the coalition had the pleasure of speaking with Shannon Churchill, General Manager of the Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce. Shannon has long been an advocate of putting ability first in the workplace, and has worked with the Chamber to provide resources to their members on doing so. During our February Tuesdays at Ten, we had the opportunity to discuss how the Chamber has put the philosophy of hiring for ability first into practice in their own workplace.

Photograph of Shannon Churchill, General Manager #Tuesat10 February 2, 2016 at 10:00am EST with guest @StrathroyCofC.

Twitter Transcript: 

Ability First: Good morning & welcome to #Tuesat10. We’re pleased to be speaking with Shannon Churchill, General Manager of the @StrathroyCofC. #Strathroy

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: Thank you for having me here and allowing me to share our experience. #Tuesat10 @AbilityFirstLdn

Ability First: Shannon, can you give us a brief overview of what the @StrathroyCofC does? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: We're a membership based business organization dedicated to being the voice of business in our community. We have over 240 Chamber Members, to who we offer networking events, discounted programs and resources. #Tuesat10

Ability First: For instance, in November @StrathroyCofC held an event highlighting resources available to employ persons with disabilities in conjunction with the coalition and @OntarioCofC #AbilitiesConnect https://storify.com/AbilityFirst/abilities-connect #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: Many of our local Chamber Members do hire people with disabilities and we'd like to see that number grow. #Tuesat10

Ability First: How long has the @StrathroyCofC been in operation for? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber was introduced in #Strathroy in 1940, but was re-established in 1998. #Tuesat10

Ability First: How many employees does the @StrathroyCofC have? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: Usually there are two of us. I work 35 hours a week and the Communications Coordinator position is part time. Our incredible Communications Coordinator recently moved to a great full time position with @TourismLambton. #Tuesat10

Ability First: We know how much the two of you enjoyed working together & as a result the @StrathroyCofC was nominated for 2015 #ChampionAwards. #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: It meant a great deal to us & the board of directors & we hope we've changed some of the misconceptions out there #Tuesat10 @AbilityFirstLdn

Ability First: Here's a background article on @StrathroyCofC's nomination for the 2015 #ChampionAwards in the #AdvocacyAward category > http://ow.ly/XLfZO How did you go about finding the right person for the position? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: We did not set out specifically looking for someone with a disability to hire for the position. We advertised for position of Communications Coordinator & I knew Chris was the best person for the job but her vocal disability, Spasmodic Dysphonia, was very noticeable. She was very upfront about it, which helped. In the end, Chris had the best skill set and we knew we could work around any limitations. #Tuesat10

Ability First: How did this affect the position of Communications Coordinator with the @StrathroyCofC? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: In the past, the prior Communications Coordinator handled all incoming phone calls, which was a huge asset, as she could answer many questions before the calls came to me. #Tuesat10

Ability First: And how did you and Chris work this out once she was hired as @StrathroyCofC Communications Coordinator? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: Since phone work was an issue for Chris, I answered phones & she took on some of my other responsibilities. Chris was a terrific fit in the position & with our members. We worked very well together & made a fabulous team! #Tuesat10

Ability First: How did this experience help to shape your outlook on hiring someone with a disability? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: When you work with someone with a disability you quickly learn what his or her strengths are. Focus on these. I don't see Chris as having a disability as her abilities far outshine her disability. #Tuesat10

Ability First: What do you think the most common misconception in relation to employment of persons with disabilities is? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: I think many people are curious about disabilities but feel it is taboo to talk about the disability. If we could get rid of that taboo, more people would understand the strengths & abilities of those with a disability. #Tuesat10

Ability First: What is your advice for other employers @StrathroyCofC? #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: Hire for the best person for the position, no matter what the disability may be. #Tuesat10

Ability First: Please finish this sentence, “@StrathroyCofC hires for Ability First because…” #Tuesat10

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: You must look at the person and not the disability and let the abilities shine through. #Tuesat10

Ability First: Shannon, thank you so much for joining us from @StrathroyCofC for today's #Tuesat10.

Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce: In the future we would not hesitate to hire persons with disabilities if they were a good fit for the Chamber. It was great sharing our experience here today & if any Members have any questions, please contact me. #Tuesat10

Ability First: Thank you to Chris Bregman for sharing her story, particularly because in her words there are, "others out there who can benefit from my experience." If you are in the #Strathroy area, connect with @StrathroyCofC or the coalition for additional resources and #PutTheAbilityFirst. Thank you to everyone who tuned in for today's #Tuesat10. Please join us again on March 1, 2016 for another great employer discussion.

To review transcripts from past sessions visit our Tuesdays at Ten archives.