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How Kamloops Businesses are Building Inclusive Workplaces [VIDEO]

Inclusive workplaces help us build better businesses, better communities, and better lives. But what does that look like, exactly? And for businesses interested in diversifying their hiring, where should they start?

Several Kamloops businesses are setting an incredible example for building more inclusive workplaces by hiring people with disabilities. Cain’s Your Independent Grocer in Kamloops is one of them—here’s how they make it happen, and the amazing impact it has.

Examples of Inclusive Workplaces in Kamloops: Your Independent Grocer

Cain’s Your Independent Grocer has been working with SMART Options, a supported employment agency in Kamloops, to successfully hire and employ people with diverse abilities for several years now.

SMART Options works with both Kamloops employers and job-seekers with developmental disabilities to create mutually beneficial employment connections. We do this by taking the time to get to know our clients, who we then match with jobs that suit their strengths and interests. We also offer ongoing job support for both the employee and employers.

All of SMART Options’ services are completely free of charge to employers like Cain’s Independent Grocer, making this a truly accessible service to anyone who is hiring in Kamloops and looking for inclusive hiring solutions.

SMART Options helped to place Vincent Wells, a person with diverse abilities who is now an employee at Kamloops Independent Grocer.

Vincent’s Story: Gaining Confidence and Independence While Making Great Contributions to a Local Kamloops Business

With help from SMART Options, Vincent is successfully employed at a Kamloops Business, Cain’s Your Independent Grocer.

Vincent is a cashier at Independent Grocer in Kamloops, where he works at the till, ringing through customers. He also occasionally works in the Garden Department, where he enjoys working outdoors with the plants. If you’re a frequent patron at this Kamloops grocery store, there’s a good chance you’ve seen him in action!

But finding the right job wasn’t an easy task for Vincent. That’s because Vincent has Asperger’s, ADD, Tourettes, and OCD.

“I’m often misunderstood by people who don’t understand the conditions,” said Vincent. “There’s a lot of ignorance out there, sadly.”

Before obtaining his job at the Kamloops Independent Grocer, Vincent hadn’t had a job for 25 years. The ones he did have prior to that were short-lived.

This is a reality for many people with developmental disabilities. However, when offered the right support and paired with the right job, people with diverse abilities can excel and flourish at work, which can drastically improve the employee’s quality of life. On top of that, hiring people with disabilities is proven to improve workplace culture, company image, and bottom line.

Kamloops Independent’s experience with diverse hiring and supported employment has been a positive one.

SMART Options and Kamloops Independent were able to offer Vincent the support and opportunities he needed, which has created a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“Vincent’s work ethic and attitude are great. Vince is here on time, he never complains, and he just always seems happy to be at work,” said Jason Cain, Owner of Cain’s Independent Grocer. “All the people we’ve hired through SMART Options, they always have a job coach come in with them and work with them for as long as needed. Some people need it longer than others, but SMART Options is really good with support.”

SMART Options is able to facilitate these successful employment connections because they understand the needs of both employees with disabilities and employers who are navigating new waters by building inclusive workplaces.

“A lot of employers are a little bit nervous or hesitant to hire someone with a disability, so we’re there providing one-on-one support, encouragement, and reminders to offer that extra help,” said Bria Gatien, Owner and Program Manager at SMART Options. “Hiring somebody with a disability is good for employers because they find long-term, reliable employees that really care about the work they do and want to be there. It’s also a way to really ensure you have a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

For Vincent, the opportunity to work at an inclusive Kamloops business has been a game-changer.

“Really, I just get a lot of satisfaction from helping people,” said Vincent. “Since I worked at Independent my confidence level’s gone way up. Here they’ve set up an atmosphere that is very inclusive to people with learning challenges or disabilities. They really want you to succeed.”

“His journey has involved a lot of failures all along the way,” said Rosalee Wells, Vincent’s mother. “It was always very difficult for him. It wasn’t his fault, but nobody understood him. My husband and I wondered whether he would ever be successful in supporting himself. I found out about SMART Options because I’m involved with the St. Vincent De Paul Society and they would bring SMART Options’ clients there and I could see how valuable it was to them.”

“Since Vincent started at Independent he’s become financially independent,” added Rosalee. “Now he has his own apartment and he pays his own bills and I don’t think he’s ever really felt like he belongs—now he belongs to something.”

The boost in confidence that inclusive workplaces offer is something that SMART Options sees often, and one of the reasons why we do what we do!

“Vincent and some of the other people we’ve hired through SMART Options, it’s really nice to see them coming out of their shell. It’s nice to see them gain the confidence and the ability to interact,” said Jason.

Inclusive workplaces improve businesses, the community, and the lives of people with disabilities.

Everyone who wants to work should have the opportunity to do so, and to earn fair pay for fair work. For people with disabilities, supported employment can offer financial independence, confidence, and a sense of belonging. And that’s something that everyone deserves.

“I felt like I wasn’t able to do anything for many years but now it feels like life’s a little more complete now,” said Vincent.

Other Kamloops Businesses Building Inclusive Workplaces

Cain’s Independent Grocer is just one of many Kamloops businesses taking care to build an inclusive workplace (and reaping the benefits!).

Some other businesses in Kamloops working with SMART Options Supported Employment to hire people with diverse abilities include:

We hope this list continues to grow as we spread the word about the benefits of inclusive hiring for everyone involved!

Kamloops Businesses Interested in Diversifying Their Workforce

Are you a Kamloops employer who is interested in diversifying your workforce and building an inclusive workplace by hiring people with disabilities?

SMART Options is here to help! We’d love to learn more about your business, available positions, and any hiring problems or gaps that you’re experiencing. We’ll then assess our current pool of job-seekers to find the right fit.

Once a match is made, we provide assistance with recruitment, orientation, training (both job training for the new employee as well as diversity training for existing staff), employee evaluations, retention, and more.

If you have questions about our supported employment services or are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact the SMART Options team. We’re here to help and look forward to working with you!


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