Introducing the Accessible Customer Service standard: a part of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act
Written by: CPHR Manitoba
When you read the term “barrier”, what comes to mind?
[Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what a barrier means to you]
How about “types of barriers” – including negative, presumable or judgmental attitudes; lack of communication; physical challenges; technological issues; or systematic failures?
[Take another moment to think while observing your surroundings]
Barriers are all around us and affect all of us. Some individuals may be stronger communicators but may not understand certain advances in technology; others may be physically able to walk into a room but are held back by a negative attitude, filled with presumptions and judgements, that prevents them from meeting others.
Now take a moment to think, “what if I had a disability” – could you overcome those barriers the same way you would normally approach them? It depends – are you visually-impaired, suffer from a mental health condition, or physically disabled? There are many factors at play here, in this thought-process alone, and unfortunately over 200,000 Manitobans are living with some form of a disability and facing different types of barriers every single day.
The fact is: we need to remove the barriers and create accessibility for all Manitobans.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) provides a clear and proactive process for the identification, prevention and removal of barriers with respect to five key pillars, customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the built environment.
The first standard to be implemented under AMA is the Accessible Customer Service standard. This standard is built on the requirements of the Human Rights Code and addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service for people with disabilities.
Fred Dugdale, Board Treasurer at the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and Manitoba Brain Injury Association who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury, says that the hardest barrier to overcome is attitude.
“When learning about the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and reviewing your current workplace environment, you have to be realistic and find a way where this works for everyone. People that can work, will work – you just need to find a middle ground where your measures, practices and requirements to identify, prevent and remove barriers are a win-win for everyone,” says Dugdale. “The investment you make to remove barriers will bring long-term benefits and cater to all colleagues and clients in your workplace.”
The deadlines for compliance is structured under a three-year period – Manitoba Government (November 2016), large public sector organizations (November 2017), and companies/organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (November 2018).
To assist you in the review and development of your workplace policies and practices that will welcome and serve everyone, CPHR Manitoba and the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities have partnered to present the Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop.
The workshop will cover an overview of the AMA legislation with a focus on the Customer Service Standard, review and compare the AMA with the Manitoba Human Rights Code, identify your organizational responsibilities and learn the key principles to offering accessible customer service in your workplace.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 13, from 8:30 a.m. – noon at the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg. Registration fees are $150/CPHR Manitoba members and $200/non-members. To register, visit cphrmb.ca. Registration deadline is November 8.
On October 17, Canada will become the first G7 country to fully legalize recreational cannabis. Is your business ready?
Here are 5 impacts that the legalization of cannabis will have on the workplace:
1. Safety concerns
Despite cannabis legalization, adult cannabis use is not new. However, employers are concerned that with legalization a subsequent increased use will impact the workplace. Safety concerns include employees operating motor vehicles and employees using heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis.
2. Alcohol, drug policies and testing
Cannabis is already the most commonly encountered substance in workplace drug testing, but with legalization, its use is expected to grow. Employers have the right to regulate cannabis use at work, and employees have the right to a safe workplace. It’s important to communicate any changes made to alcohol and drug policies, and focus on treatment and recovery during disciplinary actions.
3. Drug use or dependence
Due to legalization, experts expect a rise in recreational cannabis use. Effects of cannabis on individuals vary widely depending on numerous factors, so it’s important to educate employees on its effects and any new workplace policies.
4. Medicinal cannabis use
Because many people use cannabis for medical reasons, it’s important to clearly outline your workplace policies on cannabis while being cognisant of those who require cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability. As an employer, you need to accommodate your employees’ needs and that may include the use of medicinal cannabis.
5. Problematic drug use or dependence
Just because cannabis is being legalized, it does not mean it’s a license for poor behaviour. Cannabis use can become problematic for many reasons, such as when workplace performance and attendance decreases. Employers should prepare for a potential rise in problematic cannabis use and dependence in the workplace.
1. What’s your favourite social media channel and why?
Kyle (Vantage Studios Inc.): It changes in every scenario. In my personal life, until something else emerges and displaces it, I like the curated visual feed of Instagram. It’s filled with friends, family, colleagues and my art/design interests in both still image and video. I like that it gives me the sense of maintaining connections with people who are a part of my life. In marketing of businesses it changes based on industry regulations, customer segments, value proposition and type of customer relationship. Some channels are better than others to grow and target key audience segments, but relevance and engagement are more important in most cases.
Susie (SPARKER Strategy Group): It really depends what your goals are. Each channel has unique benefits depending on the company goals. However, for business that is looking to invest in one channel my recommendation would be for Instagram. There are tremendous opportunities for images and video to sell, as well as advertising. The e-commerce growth for brands on Instagram will only grow.
Adam (Dooley PR): I like different channels for different reasons. They each have unique value propositions and uses. My personal favourite as a user would be Instagram (though I tend to lurk more than I post). It tends to be mostly positive and let's individuals and brands express themselves in highly creative ways. The world doesn't need any more outrage and drama.
I've also grown fonder of LinkedIn over the past two years. For a long time, many people used LinkedIn as just an online resume, but it is doing a much better job of improving its relevancy to a daily business audience. We've won clients on LinkedIn and I use it regularly to build our business and my personal network.
2. Which company do you admire for their branding/marketing and why? #BrandGoals
3. What is the biggest marketing trend we’ll see in 2019?
Kyle: Adoption of existing popular technology to enhance customer acquisition and growth.
Integration of tech can optimize investments or make workflows more efficient, re-allocating effort and budgets to higher value activities, ultimately enabling a company to deliver higher value to their customers, extend their reach or enhance engagement. All of these moves can influence customer attraction, retention and referrals enhanced also by traditional word of mouth and online reviews.
Adam: Automation will continue to steamroll through our lives and the marketing and media world will be no different. In news media, we will see traditional regional news operations continue to shrink while a few massive, national and international players will expand across new geographies (ie. New York Times, Economist, Guardian, BBC). And more media organizations will turn to automated news gathering and writing systems to generate news. We'll also see continued proliferation of hyper-niche online publications focused on a single topic or audience. In marketing, I expect to continue to see local companies relying more and more on global advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google. Automated marketing systems will continue to get better and smarter, allowing even small businesses to target potential leads with greater accuracy. All of this will require small businesses to become even more tech savvy.
As industries change with technology, innovation and time, certain things still stick around. With four full-time consultants on staff and several others engaged as subcontractors, Dooley Communications is Winnipeg’s largest public relations (PR) agency, advising clients from local startups to Fortune 500 companies. We have been around for a decade and watched the industry evolve and grow. The saying “public perception is reality,” isn’t going anywhere, and neither is PR.
Fewer reporters, more content creators
These days, PR professionals can’t just have contacts in newsrooms — they need a whole list of bloggers, influencers, and social media stars to pull from to help their clients get a message out to the world. On the flip side, reporters get more noise in their inbox than ever before. Real relationships and creative pitches that stand out are more valuable than ever.
More news, faster
There’s no debate that people still look to news outlets for breaking stories and information on what’s happening. In the past it was the newspaper on the doorstep and the evening news at 6:00 PM. Now it comes from an e-newsletter, an app, live Tweets or a post shared by a friend on Facebook. News still travels fast, and getting in front of it before it’s too far gone is more important than ever. Tools like Meltwater (Dooley uses this), allow a company to track targeted mentions on the web and social and get updated every day to keep tabs on what’s being said at all times.
Brand journalism, newswire services, social media accounts, e-newsletters and videos all help a company get the word out without a media outlet. Now there’s the advantage of using social media or video to issue a quick, but thoughtful, statement in crisis situations. There are also more options in the case that your story didn’t get picked up by the mainstream media. With newsrooms shrinking, and reporters stretching themselves thin, even newsworthy stories can fall through the cracks. There are many ways to get your message out and spread the word — the journalist isn’t the gatekeeper anymore. At Dooley, we always look for the right channel to get the job done. We’re not tied to one tactic or strategy, because every client and situation is different.
More competition for people’s precious attention
Point blank: it’s hard to get people’s attention these days (yes, this includes reporters). It takes a really sticky message, or a lot of exposure, for something to “take.” Our inboxes are overflowing, and our attention only goes so far — that’s why a concise and carefully crafted pitch is even less likely to stand out than ever before.
Brands are trying harder than ever to make big statements to get noticed. In those cases, you only get good mileage out of it if you consider how the media is going to hear about this cool thing you are doing.
It’s not enough to do just PR, advertising or marketing anymore. Developing a mix that incorporates all three is crucial in the digital age.
Warren Buffet said “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” reminding us that PR is no less relevant today than it was a decade ago (luckily, we were around then too).