Contributed by Steve Earl, General Manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kamloops
In 2016 I was fortunate to meet a prospective employee, Dominique Baird, who has Down Syndrome. She introduced herself at a job fair and made an immediate positive impression. Up to that time I had never hired an employee with a disability and we decided to bring her on as a Breakfast Host.
Dominique quickly proved herself to be a model employee who makes a lasting impression on everyone she meets. Every morning she gives all her co-workers a hug to start their day. What a great way to start a work day! She is sincere with every guest she encounters and is genuinely interested to know where they come from, why they are in Kamloops and how their stay is. I have received more positive comments from guests about their contact with Dominique than any other employee. They ask to speak to a manager in person, complete guest surveys and contact the Marriott Guest Experience Department to express their gratitude when they encounter Dominique.
Dominique loves everything about her job, looks forward to coming to work and truly defines what it is to provide genuine and sincere customer service. My only regret in hiring an individual with a perceived disability is that I did not do it many years ago. In my opinion Dominique’s Down Syndrome is not a disability, it actually gives her a unique ability to connect with guests.
If your business needs an individual to make a connection to your customers, I would encourage you to consider hiring someone with a disability. It can be difficult for someone with a disability to find employment and they are generally under-represented in the workforce. It will be a decision that will benefit your customers, employees and your overall business.