Shared Employment Perspective
Paddy Gallagher, a Vancity employee with autism, speaks on how his role has made an impact on his life and the importance of inclusive hiring.
(Paddy Gallagher) I started as an administrator going part-time in the head office, and now I’m a full-time administrator for the Learning and Development department. A big part of my role is helping out with Orientation Immersion, Vancity’s onboarding program, this includes sending what to expect emails to the participants. Some of the responsibilities I have connecting with our branches, and making logistical arrangements.
I started out with Vancity because they were working with an organization that I was connected to called posAbilities. I had never been into an office environment before, let alone a credit union, but I did well on my interview and so I was hired. During my first few months, my manager and coworkers helped me learn my jobs, either through example or with written instructions.
As the weeks went on, I started to develop a relationship with the Learning and Development team who helped my transition with their reassurance and support, especially during stressful situations. Eventually, I expanded my roles not only to the other teams on my floor, but also with people outside of our building. Even though I am a capable employee, there were some stuff that I still continued to improve on each day. For example, initially it was tricky for me to learn how to discreetly complete some tasks without interrupting the meeting, I since learned to take cues from my coworkers before I start any course of actions during the lessons.
I’ve also learned that despite the structured schedule of Orientation Immersion, I had to be flexible if sessions go over time or if I get behind in my work. I can count on my team for support if I’m stressed. During my early years, I would sometimes skip my breaks in order to get more of my work done (audience laughing) until my colleagues convinced me to take them so I won’t become tired and lose my concentration. One major struggle that I have to overcome now is not for me to become overloaded with a lot of tasks because I don’t like to let down a fellow employee. So, I should remember that everyone is usually very understanding and yeah (chuckles).
Before I started with Vancity, there was a few facilitators that were needed, one to run the orientation program, oversee the participants, the other to do my current jobs. Now that I’ve taken over the administrative duties, only one person’s needed to oversee immersion, while the rest of our team can go to the regular office and work on their other tasks.
More recently, my manager asked me for my feedback and said, how he can improve overall as a manager, and I suggest to him that, when we have our meetings, that he should try to arrive on time
and if he cannot make it, to message me, even if it’s just a few minutes and it’s before our meeting, So, he has since taken this advice to his heart and it has benefited not only me, but for the whole team as well.
I’ve also become somewhat of a mentor for other people with diverse abilities and would sometimes give them advice or their coworkers on how to make their onboarding experiences more easily. I have also trained some work experience students in how to work in an office environment.
I am truly grateful of working at Vancity, where all the staff treat everyone like equals and look out for each other. If I had to name three things that have helped me succeeded in Vancity, they would be, the support and encouragement and trust from my coworkers, knowing that Vancity is an inclusive and nonjudgmental work environment, and through learning my tasks through visual instructions or on hands-on approaches.
I am excited to see so many people in the audience attending a session on how to hire people like me into the work force. I hope this speech helps you to see why hiring diversely is a good choice for your organization. Thank you.