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As a paralegal working with the Canadian government, Karen is well-acquainted with employment equity and the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace. And what she finds unfair — and unacceptable — is that people with a facial difference do not currently fit within the same employment standards afforded to other equity-seeking groups. She would like to see policies changed so that employment equity recognizes facial difference because it’s been overlooked for years.

Furthermore, when it comes to workplace training, Karen believes there needs to be more emphasis placed on unconscious bias, including recognition of people with a facial difference. The reality is that many see people with a facial difference as having limitations, and these false biases need to be acknowledged, talked about, and addressed.

Karen would like to see employers create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace. She recommends pairing up a person with a facial difference with a trusted colleague who can answer questions and play the role of “icebreaker” in group settings. Ultimately, this helps to bring people together and encourage the right kinds of conversations for greater understanding.

Finally, when it comes to a company’s employment policies, Karen is a staunch advocate for encouraging and applying respect — because the workplace should be an environment where everyone feels safe.

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