How a BC bakery is leading the charge on inclusive employment
This article originally appeared on CanadianBusiness.com
Can baked goods also do good? Yes, if you’re talking about Gabi & Jules, a family-run bakery with a mission to create baked delights in a collaborative environment that is inclusive of all abilities. As owners Lisa and Patrick Beecroft say on their website: “Our pie is life-changing—but we do so much more than bake pies!” Just how exactly can a bakery change lives? By creating opportunities for all kinds of employees. In fact, an impressive 42 per cent of the workforce at Gabi and Jules identify as having a disability. The company, with locations in Port Moody and Burnaby, B.C., is making a positive impact in their communities by leading with kindness, and inspiring other small business owners to become inclusive employers as well.
That’s why TELUS Business, a proud supporter of Canada’s small businesses, chose Gabi & Jules as their #StandWithOwners technology prize winners. At its core, the #StandWithOwners program—now in its third consecutive year—aims to provide access to best-in-class technology for Canadian businesses and help them capitalize on opportunities that create both revenue and social impact. The program, which has invested more than $2.5 million since 2020 to give a much-needed boost to small businesses, including a $1 million recommitment this year, awarded the Beecrofts $25,000 in funding, advertising and tech support as one of 30 local businesses recognized through #StandWithOwners. On top of this, they were awarded an additional technology refresh package from TELUS and its partners, Cisco and Samsung. “The program has been hugely successful in that it has given so many owners and businesses the exposure they deserve,” says Navin Arora, executive vice-president, TELUS, and president of TELUS Business Solutions.
The inspiration for inclusion
Lisa and Patrick branched off from selling pies at their original café businesses and began selling them at a local farmers’ market in 2016. In less than two years, they opened a brick-and-mortar bakery in Port Moody, B.C., which now services the local Gabi and Jules pie shop and a newly opened location in Burnaby Heights.
Inclusivity is important to them as entrepreneurs, but also as parents to Gabriela and Juliana, the bakery’s namesakes. “Juliana, my eldest daughter, has autism,” says Lisa. “So when I discovered other companies that had set ambitious inclusive-hiring goals for those with disabilities, I began to think about how we could incorporate something similar into our business model.”
Lisa is also a member of the Presidents Group, a network of B.C. business leaders who champion more accessible, inclusive workplaces through training and create an annual public survey that reports on the number of employees who self-identify with a disability.
Lisa and Patrick have found that Gabi and Jules’s inclusive policies have helped the business overcome labour challenges and attract individuals who want to be part of a dynamic, safe and welcoming environment.
How #StandWithOwners helps small businesses grow
“I didn’t know much about the program when I applied,” says Lisa. “A regular customer and friend of mine suggested I give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.” In addition to the $25,000 prize package, Lisa and Patrick were awarded additional technology from TELUS and its partners. “Our growth is completely reliant on technology,” she says. “Having access to these products and having it all under one umbrella is incredibly encouraging.”
Prior to the win, the bakery was already a TELUS Business customer, but is now planning a digital expansion to incorporate more of TELUS’s communication tools and operating systems. “So far, we’ve opted into one of the Secure Business plans, which has given us the ability to remotely control the alarm and security system of the shops and enhance our ability to operate the business,” says Lisa. “I’m looking forward to adding new Wi-Fi enhancements to aid with our online orders and in-store point of service next.”
As for the cash prize, it has helped fund two new ovens enabled with technology that raises and rotates the pies while they cook—cutting down on cooking time and labour costs. “Technology allows us to get our job done faster and more affordably while still delivering on quality,” says Lisa. “Our productivity has increased exponentially and we haven’t even received the second oven yet.”
“Small business owners stand to benefit in a massive way from digital transformations,” says Arora. “Technology helps enable business expansion while improving processes, creating value and reducing operational expenses. It allows for easy adaptation to market trends, improved communication and, most of all, better customer experiences. Our goal at TELUS Business is to empower businesses to drive positive outcomes so that they can thrive in a digital world.”
To learn more about the #StandWithOwners program, visit telus.com/StandWithOwners.
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