Employers who make a point of hiring people with epilepsy are not just doing the right thing; they’re making a smart business decision, says employment consultant Tim Nourse.
The reason for this is simple, Nourse says: by hiring people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders, employers are creating a more diverse workforce that is “more responsive to marketing and social needs.”
Many people living with epilepsy are frightened to disclose their condition to their employers or workmates out of fear that it could cost them their job. While Nourse says some employers continue to be wary of hiring people with seizure disorders out of concern that their condition will negatively affect their jobs, others are actively seeking people with disabilities — including epilepsy.
This is especially true for companies, such as banks, where there are federal regulations mandating employers to hire a certain number of people with disabilities every year.
“I’ve often coached clients to not disclose in their covering letter that they have epilepsy, but to indicate that they are a person with a disability and they are applying as per the (employer’s) instructions or wish to be considered as an under-represented part of the population,” Nourse says.
“You can secure an advantage. . . . In some cases, for people to say, ‘I wish to be considered as a candidate with a disability’; that’s actually putting a little gold star beside their application or their resumé.”
Nourse says federally regulated employers, typically, do not have difficulty meeting their targets for hiring First Nations people, visible minorities and women. Where they have challenges is meeting their targets for hiring people with disabilities.
There’s also a push in today’s society for employers to have inclusive hiring practices. By having hiring policies that announce their willingness to hire people with disabilities they are increasing the diversity in their workplace and showing themselves to be socially responsible companies.
In other words, says Nourse, it just makes good business sense.
“Employers are recognizing all the time that it’s not the right thing to hire somebody with epilepsy, it’s the smart thing to do – you’re creating a more diverse workforce that’s more responsive to marketing needs and social needs; you’ll have a better understanding,” he says.
Writer: Deron Hamel
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