Walgreens Leads the Way

Since 2007, Walgreens has been actively recruiting people with disabilities to work in its 21 distribution centers and since then has developed the largest private sector disability inclusion effort in the country.  [Walgreens press release dated June 18, 2012]

At the Windsor, CT, distribution center, people with disabilities make up about half of the workforce.  Another distribution center in Anderson, SC, has nearly 600 employees, of whom 35-40% have a disability. They do the same work, under the same performance standards, for the same pay as the non-disabled employees.   They hold every type and level of position.

After five years of collecting operations data, Walgreens performed a cost/benefit analysis of their inclusionary practices.  They were particularly interested in productivity, safety and employee retention. The results show that employees with disabilities were equal to the rest of the workforce in both productivity and safety, and were significantly better–48% better–in employee retention.  Accommodation expenses were minor.

Walgreens . . . is now applying lessons learned at the distribution centers across the company with the recent launch of companywide solution to better enable its retail stores to employ people with disabilities. More than 100 U.S. and global companies have visited Walgreens to learn how to initiate and sustain similar efforts of inclusion. [Walgreens press release dated June 18, 2012]

Over a dozen major US companies and some government officials recently gathered at the  Windsor, CT, distribution center to tour the facility and ask questions. Afterwards  they resolved to work together to launch a nationwide public-private sector initiative “to expand and promote the employment of people with disabilities and address barriers.”  Those corporations include Best Buy, Ernst & Young LLP, GE Lighting, IBM, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Merck, OfficeMax, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Walgreens and Walmart.

If you’d like to know more about Walgreen’s inclusionary practices, there’s lots more to read at these two websites:

http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/057/06/062_071_F1Ka_0612.pdf

http://news.walgreens.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=5604

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