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Walgreens Expands Disability Employment Effort Nationwide


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The nation’s largest drugstore chain is dramatically increasing its efforts to hire people with disabilities.

Walgreens officials said they plan to implement a training program in every state by the end of 2013 that’s designed to help people with disabilities land jobs in the company’s retail stores.

The initiative is an expansion of a pilot program that began in Texas and currently operates at stores in New York and Connecticut as well.

Through the program, Walgreens partners with local disability service providers to identify and train prospective employees for jobs in retail environments. Upon successful completion of the program, individuals can apply for work at Walgreens or other retailers that rely on a similar skill set.

So far, 400 people with disabilities have participated in the training program, 46 percent of whom have subsequently been hired by Walgreens or other retailers, according to the company.

Walgreens plans to immediately expand its efforts to stores in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. The rest of the country is expected to participate in the program by the end of next year.

In addition to the retail initiative, at least 10 percent of the workforce at each of Walgreens’ 20 distribution centers is already comprised of people with disabilities. The company is looking to achieve a similar inclusion rate in its stores.

Walgreens’ efforts to expand disability employment have become a model for other employers as well. Last year, Proctor & Gamble said it would follow in the drugstore’s footsteps when they announced that at least 30 percent of employees at a new packaging facility in Maine would be people with physical or developmental disabilities.

Disability advocates say efforts to increase hiring of those with special needs are much needed. As of April, the U.S. Department of Labor said that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was at 12.5 percent, significantly higher than the 8.1 percent rate faced by the general population.

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Comments (18 Responses)

  1. Kaushik Mukherjee says:

    This is a great achievement by Walgreens ,being a parent of a disabled child ,I wish this company all the success . Being in India , the disabled child is a tatoo and its very difficult to think of any social integration at any level . I am also associated with retail and have 8 years of experience in retailing . Can this company roll out similar venture in India or take me in this team ,so that by learning , I will do roll out the same in India . It will help in wiping out the tears of many mothers …..Regards Kaushik Mukherjee Ph No +919339351122 email id

  2. Barb says:

    From personal family experience, I believe that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is A LOT higher than 12.5%. I would not count those people with disabilities working in sheltered workshops for sub minimum wage as being gainfully employed.

  3. Nancy says:

    Who can I contact at Walgreens to enroll people with disabilities in this program in Wisconsin?

  4. Allan I. Bergman says:

    The Walgreens initiative was begun in 2002 under the leadership of Randy Lewis, a senior VP of the corporation. Randy also is the father of a son living with disabilities from autism. Randy has testified before Congress several times about the Walgreen’s initiative.
    The key corporate contact at Walgreens is Deb Lewis, Corporate Manager for Diversity and Inclusion. Deb is a former special education teacher and rehabilitation counselor and offices in Deerfield, Illinois. She also currently chairs the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

  5. Becky Gibbons says:

    I am so exicited to hear of Walgreens initiative to employ people with disabilities. I am an employment specialist and my job is to assist people with disabilities find employment. The people I work with are more than capable to perform various jobs, they just need employers to give them a chance! Most employers are scared of hiring people with disabilities because they are not sure what they are taking on, which is so unfortunate because it could be one of the most rewarding experiences in their career.

  6. Flemming Godiksen says:

    We would very much lime the chance to work with your organization in terms of exposing high school students with various disabilities to retail work within Walgreen stores.
    We had a very good contact with one of your regional managers a couple of years ago.
    We placed a student in a new store but he had his initial training in an established store.
    This student continues to work with Walgreens to this date. He was unsuccessful in the new store but his training store was very impr4essed with his work and wanted him back to that store.
    He has been training new regular employes in the store.
    We would with pleasure like to connect with Walgreens as a training store for high school student preparing to leave the school systems for employment in a retail environment. We have students from 13 different school districts as well as three technical school.
    Looking forward to hearing back from Walgreens.

  7. Jennifer Woodside, The Disability Training Alliance says:

    The unemployment rate is ALOT higher. As of last month, the labor participation rate for PwD is 20%. That labor rate has held for more than 100 years. The unemployment rate is 13%. The employment/under-employment rate is 7%. That means, of nearly 60,000,000 working age adults with disabilities in the United States, 7% are working (that does NOT mean full-time!), and 93% are unemployed. This is a travesty. By 2030, 50% of the world will be retirement age. We need more workers to support them. Our children, the Homelanders, are being faced with 2 epidemics simultaneously: Obesity/Diabetes Type 2 and Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorders. HR needs to understand these trends and go beyond sensitivity and awarness to acceptance. This is a market that, together with their stakeholders, includes 3B on Earth with a spend of $8T. Jennifer Woodside, President, The Disability Training Alliance. Cornell University Certified ADA Consultant. Friendly federal law compliance coach. Workplace trends expert source for BusinessWeek. Commenter on articles about disability and employment for Hoovers, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.

  8. Judy Powell says:

    I applaud Walgreens’ initiative to hire disabled individuals! I am a Board member for an organization in Milwaukie, Oregon whose mission is to create service and business ventures that return both social and economic dividends for adults with disabilities. Our intent is to have as many disabled individuals as possible learn skills they can use in the mainstream workforce. Walgreens is very welcome to come for a tour.

  9. Harry Carson says:

    This is a great thing that Walgreens is doing. I hope that more companies jump on the bandwagon. Hiring individuals with disabilities is good business. I wish Walgreens all the success in the world in all of their business ventures. I would like to know if there are any stores in New Jersey that I can contact. I assist individuals with disabilities to secure jobs in the community and there are several Walgreen stores in this area. Please e-mail me back with a contact person if possible.

  10. anne says:

    Hooray Walgreens! As a sister of an adult borderline intelligence brother I will shop at my local Walgreens more if i see dev. delayed workers!

  11. Deanna Keiser says:

    I serve people with disabilities and would like a contact person in Western Washington for the training opportunities.
    Thank you,

  12. Advocate says:

    My research has brought me to numerous resources regarding Walgreens support of hiring qualified, ability staff with disabilities…Well, the Walgreens locations in Rockland, Holbrook Ma…has yet to respond…nor acknowledge a qualified individual seeking part time employment, with the Walgreens stores…this indidvidual is in a wheelchair…but CAN..properly function an complete Inventory, General Maintenance, Pricing customer service positions with Walgreens….an never even gets the opportunity to even interview.

  13. Josh Stern says:

    Who do I contact in Minnesota to get more information?

  14. David Antonelli says:

    I have had so many parents contact me about this new initiative by Walgreens. I am a teacher in Massachusetts working with 14-22 year old kids with mental and physical handicaps. As they get ready to leave the program after 22 we are hoping to have work for each of them. Is there anyone I can contact here in Mass that could talk to me about your program? I would love to get something started here (Upton, Mass area) where we could set the kids up with job coaches (from our program) and try and get them trained. Please contact me,…!!!

  15. Boyee says:

    I am an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome, a spectrum disorder, and I currently work as a Service Clerk at a Walgreens store in my hometown. I feel they treat me well with every aspect, except compensation, and work had to adapt to working with someone with my disability.

  16. Suzanne Howard says:

    I am a previous employee of Walgreens, Staten Island. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and can not stand in one position for a long period of time. I was the main cashier, loved my job and they loved me. I would love to return on a part time basis, however I would need a stool at the register to rest periodically. May I have your thoughts and/or suggestions. Thank you.

  17. Ralph Federico says:

    Can you email me contact information for my son who lives with me in East Hartford Ct. Who do I contact at the Windsor Ct distribution Center?

  18. Isabel Jocher says:

    GOD BLESS YOU MR LEWIS, GOD BLESS YOU MS. LEWIS. YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE UNIVERSE. There are autism researches who believe autism is a not a disability but a sign of a marker of human evolution. As we evolve as a species, we become not something new and different, but the next version of who we will ultimately be. Autism is different in each autistic individual. But a universal marker of all autistic people is a lack of SOCIAL SKILLS. –By whose parameters?– When observed carefully, this lack of social skills translates into autistic individuals being extremely honest, straight forward, direct, untouched by the social concept of “politically correctness”. My daughter calls this “lying, deceit, dishonesty”. We have created a world in which being politically correct is priceless. But should it be?? I have learned today that my daughter, a young woman, is a genius with an IQ nearing the 140s. I have also learned she is autistic. She struggles with jobs that never last. Walgreens’ accomplishment is to be true to human development, to tap into the unseen potential of all human kind. A BRILLIANT BOTH HUMANE AND BUSINESS DECISION.

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