General manager of CQ Hotels Wellington, Olivier Lacoua, accepted the Attitude ACC Employer Award at the 2015 Attitude Awards.

The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with a disability and those that support them. This year’s winners were announced at a black tie gala held at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre on December 3, the UN sanctioned ‘International Day of People with Disability’. The ceremony was hosted by television news presenter Simon Dallow.

“The Attitude ACC Employer Award is important because it reminds us that we all benefit when we look at what we can do, rather then what we can’t. Sharing the winner’s experiences inspires us all as employers to learn and ensure we live in an inclusive society,” chief executive of ACC, Scott Pickering said.

About three years ago, Lacuoa got in touch with Workbridge, an employment agency for people with disabilities, looking to employ staff for CQ’s two hotels, Comfort Hotel and Quality Hotel, in Wellington. CQ now employs five staff members with various disabilities. Two deaf staff members were hired especially to assist with the launch of CQ’s New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) menu and have stayed on in permanent positions. CQ was the first hotel group in New Zealand to train its employees in NZSL. Employees continue to receive sign language training through Deaf Aotearoa programmes and CQ senior managers regularly attend disability awareness workshops. Lacuoa and his team are also striving to lift the standard around accessibility for staff and customers and to create a best practice approach for the hospitality industry. At the awards Lacuoa called on more business owners and managers to also commit to include people with disabilities. The awards have grown out of the Attitude TV series, which screens on Sunday mornings at 8.30am on TV ONE. Chair of the Attitude Trust, Dan Buckingham, said the awards are about celebrating outstanding achievements across what is a broad and diverse sector of society.

“Last night we celebrated winners across eight different categories, with awards for art, community and sporting achievements. It was such a difficult process to determine the winners as all of the 24 finalists were absolutely fantastic in their own right. It is a privilege to be able to tell their stories and celebrate their success,” Buckingham said.