D&I best practice: Supporting workers with Down syndrome

Anna Crane, head of HR at Lumenix and a member of the board at HDSA, outlines why it’s critical for employers to get behind an often neglected segment of the workforce

D&I best practice: Supporting workers with Down syndrome

Anna Crane, head of HR at Lumenix and a member of the board at the HDSA, outlines why it’s critical for employers to support an often neglected segment of the workforce

Established in 1984, Halton Down Syndrome Association (HDSA) is a registered charity working to improve the quality of life for people with Down syndrome and their families. The Association’s goal is to see people with Down syndrome become responsible, self-sufficient, fully integrated members of the community who are accepted by their peers and able to lead happy, productive lives. 

People with Down syndrome are living normal lives, dating, getting married, looking for jobs, and trying to earn a living.  However, barriers remain to those with Down syndrome. Employers who have hired a person with Down syndrome, have seen that these employees make significant contributions to the culture and bottom line of their operation.  More needs to be done in order for employers to welcome people with Down syndrome into their organization.

We need places of employment to adopt paradigms of inclusion that help support workers with Down syndrome with job coaching and help fellow employees to adopt positive mindsets towards people with differing abilities.  Many people of working age with Down syndrome are not gainfully employed although they are fully capable.  Employers need to look past the label and determine how the person can contribute as there are a wide range of abilities.  It has been proven that there is huge value in retention and reliability, as these employees value their job and are often the most punctual and keen employees. There are other numerous benefits when you hire someone with differing abilities. 

There is virtually no exceptional cost to hiring someone with a differing intellectual ability.

Employers who undertake inclusive hiring practices consistently report they are proud to be in a workplace that values inclusion and diversity. According to an article written in the periodical, “Ready, Willing and Able”, an impressive 73% of employees report that they strongly agree that their new teammates are contributing as much as others to their organization.

Our end goal is to provide a smooth transition from education into employment for people with Down syndrome. Employment opportunities should be built around the positive skills of the individual, including people with different abilities. It is about making a real and measurable impact to employers and people with Down syndrome.

Educators, job counsellors, employers and families need to work together to broaden employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Technology and computer skills need to be included in education and job training.  There needs to be communication and co-operation between ministries to ensure a smooth transition from high school to the work force, with proper supports and guidance throughout the journey.

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), selected to represent the tripling of the 21st chromosome found in those individuals with Down syndrome. In honour of WDSD, take a moment to recognize people with Down syndrome, as everybody deserves the chance to work.


Photo: Allan McNeill, member of Halton Down Syndrome Association, has been part of the INNOMOTIVE Solutions Group team in Burlington for 6 years. He started in the Parts Department, performing a number of small parts assembly operations, and has progressed to become the 5S Co-ordinator for the manufacturing company’s sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain program.

About the HDSA
Leanne Tovey is the chair of the Halton Down Syndrome Association (HDSA), and her mission, along with the board of directors, on behalf of its members, is that one day this world will see our children accepted into society, at every age, and at every stage. We would like to see more opportunities in all areas of employment for people with Down syndrome. If you would like to learn how, please contact the HDSA office at [email protected] or 289.878.2165.

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