Responses by Andrew MacPhee, executive creative director, FCB Canada.
Background: With the worsening labor shortage, the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) had the perfect opportunity to focus on employment—the single biggest challenge facing the Down syndrome community. There are millions of open jobs, and the Down syndrome community has been long overlooked in hiring and recruitment due to dated perceptions.
Employing people with Down syndrome has been proven to positively impact all levels of an organization, including client and customer satisfaction, workplace culture, and staff morale, for example. As employees, they offer lower turnover, lower absenteeism, higher motivation, greater attention to detail and, in general, are more reliable than the average employee.
Our target audience is chief executive officers and senior executives of retail companies in Canada, HR recruiters, and small business owners. We have targeted industry sectors that are not only facing job shortages but also require skills that are strengths of people within the Down syndrome community.
Design thinking: An existing barrier to employment for the Down syndrome community is connection. If employers are interested in hiring someone with the right skill set, there’s currently a challenge to connect with the community using traditional hiring processes. B2B platforms were an untapped resource for connecting employers with the Down syndrome community.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn was the logical choice for a campaign partner. Our goal for this year’s campaign aligns perfectly with its company vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. LinkedIn has been fully committed to the idea since our initial meeting, and we are already working on adding increased functionality to the platform to benefit the Down syndrome community.
Inployable is a first-of-its-kind online employment initiative that evens the playing field for people with Down syndrome. Inployable is a long-term platform, and our goal is to create awareness and action around recruiting and hiring people with Down syndrome. They have a right to be employed in the community, where they can work alongside people of all abilities and earn competitive compensation.
Challenges: Every year, we try to push through boundaries that limit the potential of people with Down syndrome and how we think about advertising itself. And as we rise to that challenge again this year, we always face unexpected obstacles. After all, we are doing something that has never been done before.
Favorite details: In speaking with CDSS, we understood that employment is the biggest obstacle the community has to overcome. A large percentage of the Canadian population with Down syndrome remains unemployed, is underemployed or may not be working to their full potential.
We feel that Inployable is a long-term solution to this problem, a solution that will have a far-reaching impact on the Down syndrome community and beyond. With Inployable, we make the world a better place, an initiative in which anyone would be proud to participate.
New lessons: As with any CDSS project, there is a significant learning curve. Here are some of the things we have learned over the past several months:
- Hiring employees with Down syndrome isn’t just about company image or morale; it can actually have a monetary impact.
- Hiring people with Down syndrome drives business. Companies that hire people with disabilities found that revenues were 28 percent higher, net income 200 percent higher and profit margins 30 percent higher.
- The positive impact people with Down syndrome can have on organizational health also reflects on business performance. It is known that there is a direct, mapped relationship between increased organizational health and business performance.
- Companies that hire individuals with intellectual disabilities win. According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity report, high-performing organizations were 37 percent more likely than low-performing ones to hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Visual influences: This year’s campaign focuses on employment and highlighting those in the Down syndrome community who are ready to work. We wanted to ensure our visuals portrayed this community with the confidence and drive reflective of their desire to engage in meaningful employment. It was incredibly important that we pushed the visuals to a place that would stop people in their tracks and pay attention. A lot of the inspiration for the visuals came from action movies and how action-packed blockbusters make their main characters look unstoppable.