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The Bank of Montreal Connects The Dots For 2000

As we get closer to the holiday season, it is hard to believe that it was exactly one year ago that I took the plunge and changed my career path. I had been working in Human Resources in the Ontario provincial government for six years when an opportunity unfolded providing me with a new challenge to work in an area that continues to be of personal and professional interest to me.

The Bank of Montreal welcomed Ultra, my six-year-old guide dog and me into Human Resources, where I began working in Workplace Equality under the direction of Hetty O'Donnell, Senior Manager of the national portfolio on persons with disabilities.

In a matter of months I felt that I had finally found the perfect job for me. The work is extremely interesting and challenging and the Workplace Equality Team is enthusiastic and committed to removing barriers and developing an inclusive and supportive workplace. Nicole Jacksic of the Workplace Equality team and I work closely together to recruit, accommodate and retain employees with disabilities. We also develop management competencies to assume responsibility for creating work environments that welcome people with disabilities.

The bank has been building relationships with external consultants and community organisations in order to increase recruitment opportunities and attract qualified and talented candidates with disabilities. There are a number of special programs and initiatives that provide disabled students and graduates of transition training programs with an opportunity to participate in internships or workplace assessments.

Awareness training is offered in an effort to increase management competencies and new employees' effectiveness. We have also provided this awareness training to some of our branches in order to better serve customers with disabilities.

Technology continues to be a challenge due to complex compatibility problems. Bank of Montreal is developing a team of specialists to study the issues and recommend solutions based on feedback provided by disability network groups across all lines of business and across the country. We currently have blind and vision impaired employees working in our call centres and with the aid of technology these employees are very productive individuals contributing to the bottom line.

An exciting project will take place in late April, 2000. The Bank of Montreal is planning to host an assistive technology conference providing other corporate employers the opportunity to hear some of the leaders in the Disability, Access and Employment field. For further information regarding future applications or other questions, please write to Workplace Equality, Bank of Montreal, 55 Bloor Street West, 6th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3N5. You can reach us by fax at (416) 927-5555.

In closing, I would like to encourage anyone who is currently job seeking to remain positive and optimistic. I can personally appreciate the many barriers that blind and vision impaired individuals encounter. However, I do believe that attitudes and management competencies are changing in a positive direction, and organisations are beginning to realise that they can no longer afford to ignore this very skilled, motivated and untapped labour pool.