Breaking down barriers: Accessibility consulting at BDO can help build a profitable future for people with disabilities

December 02, 2019

Breaking down barriers: Accessibility consulting at BDO can help build a profitable future for people with disabilities—and for business

On the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, the narrative around hiring people with differing abilities continues to change―the conversation is less about the lack of suitable jobs than about how inclusivity offers business gains.

Businesses committed to hiring people with disabilities are rewarded for it. A 2018 study found revenues for businesses actively employing people with disabilities are 28% higher than those that aren't―and net incomes for accessible firms was 2X more.

December 3 is especially important in Canada this year; it is the first International Day of Persons with Disabilities since the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) passed into law.

The ACA legislates an increase in the number of people with disabilities employed by the federal government and its various agencies―the Library of Parliament, the Parliamentary Protective Service, Crown Corporations and agencies, government departments, and the federally regulated private sector, including organizations in transportation, broadcasting, and telecommunications.

The banking and financial sectors, the Canadian Forces, and the RCMP are also impacted.

The federal ACA-compliance deadline: 2021

To be ACA-compliant, 19,000+ institutions, departments, and organizations must have multi-year action plans in place by 2021. Compliance includes:

  • A published plan to remove barriers in the workplace
  • Tools to collect feedback from employees and customers
  • Regular progress reports that outline the steps taken and the results created
  • An agreement to pay a fine of up to $250,000 for non-compliance

The purpose of the ACA: Five thousand more jobs for people with disabilities—and a stronger business community

The ACA is breakthrough legislation and a shining example of what it means to be Canadian.

Max Brault, the leader of BDO Canada's new accessibility practice, is a celebrated Canadian (he won the Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal) well suited to advise leaders in all professional environments that fall under the ACA.

Max is a person with a disability―and a bilingual legislation and policy leader with 20 years of experience focused on employment equity and the advancement of workplace accessibility.

Max helped to develop the ACA and was involved in:

  • Preparing the federal public service to meet the requirements of the ACA
  • Developing a hub of strategic advice on the ACA
  • Creating standards to help organizations identify, remove, and prevent barriers
  • Setting up outreach initiatives to engage people with disabilities for their opinions
  • Representing persons with disabilities at the UN convention on accessibility

He also completed a 2019 documentary about the ACA released for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Max now works with BDO to identify accessibility issues run by, through, or with help from the federal government and to provide strategic solutions to address them.

"BDO is emerging as a national leader in helping organizations meet the requirements of the Accessible Canada Act," notes Harry Lake, a partner with BDO Consulting & Strategy and Operations. "Max is making an important contribution toward realizing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce for our clients."

We can help you make a difference

A consultation with the BDO accessibility-consulting team will put you in a position to invest wisely, avoid fines, and prepare for 2021, when the ACA becomes enforceable.

For more information about our accessibility practice or to ask about what you need to do to stay compliant, contact us.

Max Brault
Vice President, BDO Consulting—Strategy & Operations
Harry Lake
Partner, BDO Consulting—Strategy & Operations