A person helping another person climb a mountain.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – “Mentorability” as an Example for Small and Family-Run Businesses 


By Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich, Clinical Senior Instructor, Desautels Centre Academic Co-Director

Over the past decade, large corporations and BigLaw firms have increasingly institutionalized departments with staff specifically paid to improve their equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).  However, smaller, and family-run businesses are often in a position where they must work towards improving their EDI initiatives without the benefit of specifically dedicated staff.  

Recently, I sat down with Susan-Grace Manya, who is an Employment Specialist with ICSS Employment Solutions,  to talk about ways family run businesses can support EDI if they don’t yet have the capacity to hire full time staff to manage the work. Manya suggested programs dedicated to improving the working lives of historically marginalized persons or groups often “have trouble connecting with small businesses and family-run companies.” This is problematic because there are many great jobs in family-run companies that would be a realistic and beneficial fit for persons with disabilities.

This disconnect does not have to remain in place.  There are many standalone EDI initiatives that family-run and small businesses can work with despite a lack of full time EDI staff.  Manya encourages the leadership of family-run businesses to reach out and network with initiatives dedicated to enhancing EDI.  Specifically, she encourages family-run businesses to reach out to Mentor-Ability, A “national initiative promoting employment of people who have a disability in communities throughout Canada, Manya explains that “MentorAbility is a full- or half-day mentoring  experience for which job seekers who have a disability are matched with individual Mentors to explore career opportunities.”

With a quite minimal commitment of time, business leaders can reach out to Mentorability to connect with protegees who identify as having disabilities. By participating in this mentoring initiative to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability,  and by looking into other similar programs, family-run businesses across Canada can enhance their EDI management to the bottom-line benefit of their organizations while doing the right thing by meaningfully including persons with disabilities in our communities.

Mentorability is a national initiative of the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE)

The views and opinions expressed in the blogs and case reporter are the views of their authors, and do not represent the views of the Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law, the Faculty of Law, or the University of Manitoba. Academic Members of the University of Manitoba are entitled to academic freedom in the context of a respectful working and learning environment.