Walgreens Helps Major US Companies and Government Officials Spawn New Disability Employment Initiative
- Published on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 11:33
Their efforts included the desire to hire these employees and have them work as equals, receiving equal pay and being held to the same standards of performance as the other employees. The initiative, led by Randy Lewis the senior vice president of supply chain management, has resulted in more than 10 percent of their workforce being persons with disclosed disabilities, working in every type and level of position at the centers. At their distribution center in Windsor, Connecticut, about 50 percent of the workforce are disabled.
When commenting on the effects of hiring a disabled workforce, Walgreens President and CEO GregWasson said, "Like our distribution center in Anderson, S.C., our facility in Connecticut has been 20 percent more productive than our others, with lower absenteeism, lower turnover and an excellent safety record," Wasson said. "And importantly, we're seeing a highly engaged workforce. Our guests from other companies that had set up similar programs at their facilities with a similar approach shared that they had the same experience."
The distribution center in Windsor, Connecticut was the site of a summit hosted by Walgreens on June 4, 2012. It was the first CEO Summit that focused on how to successfully employ persons with disabilities in the private sector. At the center they were able to experience first-hand the benefits of employing persons with disabilities.
Participants in the Summit included U.S. Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, vice chairman of the National Governors Association. Companies that participated included Amerigroup, Ascend Performance Materials, Best Buy, Clarks Companies, Ernst & Young LLP, GE Lighting, IBM, Lowe's Home Improvement, Lundbeck, McLane Company, Merck, OfficeMax, SAP AG, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Walgreens, and Walmart.
Wasson said of the summit, "Walgreens was pleased to host this summit at our Connecticut facility to show everyone what we've learned -- that employing people with disabilities is good for all employees, good for morale, retention and company spirit, good for productivity and ultimately, good for business, ...We're proud of our employees, and while each company needs to arrive at what works best for their business, we appreciate the chance to share our experience, the enthusiasm for what we're doing, and the opportunity to learn and do even more."
The summit resulted in a commitment made by the public and private sector officials to launch a nationwide initiative to identify and resolve barriers to employment faced by persons with disabilities, to share experiences in order to develop best practices and to raise awareness on the benefits of hiring persons with disabilities and the initiative in order to increase participation. The initiative will be part of the discussion at the U.S. Business Leadership Network conference in Orlando, Fla., in October of this year. They also plan to launch a website that can be used to share information and best practices and to organize summits in Dallas and Washington, D.C., and future activities to promote the employment the of persons with disabilities.
"One thing we've learned from the Walgreens experience is that if companies set big goals and put themselves out there, and work with the right partners to help them build a talent pipeline of eager, productive, and loyal workers with disabilities, the results of such efforts are stronger and more productive companies and a loyal productive workforce," said Senator Harkin, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and a lead Senate sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The Walgreens facility is powerful proof that people with disabilities are valuable assets to our workforce," Senator Blumenthal said. "I appreciate the leadership of these companies on this important issue and I'm very eager to work with them to employ more people with disabilities in Connecticut and across the nation. All people with disabilities deserve the dignity of work and we should continue to find ways to help make this possible."
"The bottom line is that there are so many people with disabilities who have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers. More companies are recognizing that creating greater economic opportunity for these workers improves their own bottom line as well," Governor Markell said. "It's inspiring to see so many leaders from the public and private sectors committing themselves to this cause and pledging to work together on something that builds both economic and social capital."
"Hiring workers who happen to have some type of disability but can still do a good job and want to work is a win for business, for employees and for our communities," said Mike Mikan, CEO (interim) of Best Buy. "Our distribution facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., is proof positive that highly motivated, productive employees with disabilities deliver strong performance on every metric from productivity to safety to quality. We plan to extend this employment model to other facilities, and we encourage other companies to consider this untapped talent pool."
Walgreens plans to continue their efforts toward more inclusion of persons with disabilities in their workforce. Their new goal is to raise the employment rate of persons with disabilities in their distribution centers to 20 percent. They have also launched a company wide solution to put forth the same efforts in their retail stores.