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Disabled hiring wins award for firm

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Peter Williams
LAUREN PRIESTLEY
AWARD WINNER: Invacare employee Peter Williams is proud of his company’s success at the Attitude Awards.

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Taking a positive approach to employing people with disabilities has won a Mt Wellington company top spot at the Attitude Awards.

Mobile equipment provider Invacare was selected as the winner of this year's Attitude Employer of the Year Award because it makes its hiring decisions based on skill regardless of disability.

Invacare product manager Peter Williams was born with spina bifida and has always had trouble finding jobs with open-minded companies.

After competing in the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Mr Williams suffered a shoulder injury while skiing and was out of work.

He was interviewed by Invacare managers in his hospital bed during recovery.

"Invacare is just so flexible. That's what I love about this company. You're here to work but it doesn't matter how you work."

The company employs two wheelchair users as well as workers with learning, hearing, and other disabilities on its team of about 50.

Mr Williams says all New Zealand companies can learn a lot from that approach.

"There's this perspective out there that needs to change. They have just got to get into the 21st century and try it."

The company allows employees flexible working hours, days to work at home if necessary, and teams up with ACC to provide a Back to Work programme to reintroduce accident victims to the workplace.

Mr Williams says that makes life easier for himself and other employees living with a disability.

"Apart from accessibility, there's really no other barrier that prevents you from leading a normal life."

The awards, run by the Attitude Awards Trust, grew out of the Attitude television series and celebrate the achievements of New Zealanders living with disability.

Attitude Pictures Limited associate producer Tanya Black challenges employers to consider hiring a disabled person.

"This is a group of talented people who don't always have the light shone on them. Invacare realises that these people with disabilities bring extra skills that their able-bodied counterparts often don't."

Be. Accessible chief executive Minnie Baragwanath says her organisation also strives to enable an accessible society and would like to see others doing the same.

"With an ageing population, it just makes good business sense to be as accessible as possible.

"We are keen to see the next step."

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- East And Bays Courier

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