A fair chance at fair work

December 15, 2020 |
Contributed by McMaster University

Catherine Connelly

Reducing poverty by supporting vulnerable employees

When Catherine Connelly was in business school, her HR textbooks defined disability as “the inability to work.” It’s a misconception that’s still deeply rooted in society. But Connelly has made it her mission to show employers why it’s wrong.

The Canada Research Chair in Organizational Behaviour, Connelly studies the experiences of workers who are often overlooked in the rapidly changing economy, including people with disabilities, temporary foreign workers, and those with precarious or gig jobs.

Her work directly aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. The Canadian government has been taking action to ensure social protection for vulnerable groups to reduce poverty, while Connelly is targeting poverty’s root causes: inequality and exclusion in the labour force.

The link between employment and poverty is obvious. The link between disability and poverty is pervasive,” says Catherine Connelly.

Identifying workplace barriers

Connelly, a professor in McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business, is investigating the obstacles and injustices faced by vulnerable workers and identifying ways to overcome them.

Her ongoing examination of the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker program has revealed abusive and unfair practices – a finding also tied to SDG 8, which includes the goal of decent work for all. By conducting more than 100 interviews with these employees, Connelly discovered widespread issues related to health and safety and working conditions.

Connelly’s research not only addresses managers’ concerns about hiring people with disabilities, but provides recommendations and resources. Click here to read more about the impact of her research.

Catherine Connelly

Catherine Connelly

Human Resources and Management

Dr. Catherine Connelly holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Organizational Behaviour, and is a member of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is a former associate editor for Human Relations and currently serves on the board of the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management Review. Her research focuses on the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences of non-standard workers (e.g., temporary agency workers, contractors, temporary foreign workers), the effects of leadership styles on leader well-being, and knowledge hiding in organizations. Catherine also conducts applied research with several Canadian organizations in both the private and non-profit sector. In addition to her research success, Catherine is a past winner and frequent teaching award nominee for her teaching in the MBA and PhD programs.

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