Amazon Canada is prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility by working closely with its People With Disabilities employee resource group and adding supports such as internal sign language interpreters.
“One of the things we’ve really focused on is building a sense of belonging and demonstrating that we value our employees and the diversity of [our workforce],” says Jane Standing, senior benefits consultant at Amazon Canada. “We recognize that there’s always a learning aspect. I think every day we learn something new from this diverse population we have.”
This year, the company hired sign language interpreters to help its deaf employees be more integrated into meetings and decision-making. It also designed branded hats and T-shirts for employees with its name displayed in sign language.
In Canada, the People With Disabilities ERG — known as AmazonPwD — has a board of 20 members spanning the company’s corporate offices and fulfillment centres to ensure representation across different business groups. Aleks Jeremic, president of AmazonPWD Canada and sales account manager for AmazonAds, notes this broad representation encourages healthy debate on initiatives such as accommodations for persons with disabilities and partnering with external organizations to have a greater impact.
“The corporate world was, for the most part, not created by people with disabilities, so employers need to make a conscious effort to normalize disability at all levels of the workforce,” she says. “I’ve been given access to a variety of programs dedicated to normalizing disability and promoting a healthy workforce. This includes things like encouraging inclusive language, training programs for managers and voluntary disability disclosure.”
Standing believes ERGs like AmazonPwD go a long way to help with attracting new talent. “I think employees are attracted to Amazon because we put such a heavy focus [on inclusion], going beyond the standard benefits plan. We’re always looking to diversify based on our employees’ needs and we truly listen.”
The ERG is also working on some long-term initiatives to further support employees with disabilities, including mentorship programs, increasing disability representation in leadership and giving employees with disabilities unique opportunities to showcase how they can contribute.