remove barriers.

Emily Tunnicliffe,
Recruitment Lead, Campus Team, Talent Acquisition, Shopify

“Students and graduates with disabilities face many obstacles on the path to securing jobs and starting careers.”

Emily Tunnicliffe of Shopify

Students and graduates with disabilities face many obstacles on the path to securing jobs and starting careers. Compounding the problem, hurdles exist at every major point along the way—from recruiting, to interviewing, to onboarding. At Shopify, we are able to remove these barriers at each point of their journey.

We revised our qualifications for interns.

Anyone in the early stages of their career is eligible for an internship. At Shopify, prospective interns don’t need to be a college or university student to qualify. Without this requirement, we have widened our pool of internship candidates and have hired not only people who attend college and university, but also those who have graduated from design and developer boot camps. We even have interns who are completely self-taught.

We also removed a coding challenge as a requirement and replaced it with a personal statement. We ask prospective interns to use their statements to tell us what they are passionate about or why they are excited to work in a particular field. Shifting the emphasis of this qualification from a test of skill to a statement of aspiration, we have made it possible for a broader range of people to apply for internships, including many more students and graduates with disabilities.

We revamped our recruiting and interviewing.

Through a pilot project with Integrate Inc., we are hiring engineering and data science graduates on the autism spectrum. To remove barriers related to recruiting these grads, we changed our job description to be more accommodating. Our job descriptions for the Autism@Work program use direct, unambiguous terms that will not be misinterpreted by people on the autism spectrum.

We then addressed barriers these new hires face when interviewing by making sure every Shopify interviewer watches an internal Autism@Work training video. We also give prospective hires an option: we can interview them in person in one of our offices or remotely in spaces that are familiar and comfortable to them.

In addition, we asked Integrate to conduct an accessibility assessment of our workplace. The company carried out a two-day review of our workspace, then recommended steps to make our entire recruiting, interviewing and onboarding process more inclusive. The changes have enhanced our workplace not only for people on the autism spectrum, but also for all employees.

We adapted our onboarding.

As a result of our partnership with LiveWorkPlay Ottawa, we have hired candidates with disabilities to work on our culinary and internal solution teams. We adjusted our onboarding process to accommodate these individuals, supplying each new employee with an individualized onboarding support plan. This tailored approach focused on setting them up with a suite of support tools for their specific needs—tools such as visual schedules and weekly email task reviews. We also invited LiveWorkPlay experts to train Shopify team leaders on the best ways to welcome and integrate the new workers.

Removing barriers for students and graduates with disabilities has given our company access to new talent and improved our workplace for all. Taking action has also inspired more than 50 Shopify employees at all levels to become mentors to students and graduates with disabilities.

Best of all, any business is able to do what we have done. It requires making a commitment, forging partnerships and following through.