Recognition spotlights Walgreens training and job readiness programs.
The DEI is a joint initiative by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), and is considered the most comprehensive benchmarking tool for corporate disability inclusion developed by disability advocates and business leaders.
“Employees with disabilities bring so much to organizations. They help us foster collaboration and to better connect with customers. They enhance overall employee engagement, and their unique perspectives help us drive innovation,” said Carlos Cubia, vice president and global chief diversity officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., Walgreens parent company. “Supporting and employing those with disabilities is the right thing to do, and it’s good business.”
The 2019 DEI inclusion criteria assessed culture and leadership; enterprise-wide access; community engagement, supplier diversity and employment practices.
“Companies recognized on the Disability Equality Index demonstrate a proactive and thoughtful commitment to disability inclusion,” said Jill Houghton, president and chief executive officer of Disability:IN. “Their actions should inspire other business leaders to create a culture of inclusion that empowers people with disabilities to thrive in the workplace. We all benefit from a society where everyone can participate fully and meaningfully.”
Walgreens training and job readiness programs are decades-long and considered models for other organizations:
- The Retail Employee Disability Initiative (REDI): Established in 2010, Walgreens partners closely with publicly funded community providers to recruit, train and hire people with disabilities to work in Walgreens retail pharmacies. As of August 31, 2018, the REDI program has enrolled more than 1,600 trainees, and of the externs who registered, 78% have completed the training.
- The Transitional Work Group (TWG): As of August 31, 2018, seven Walgreens distribution centers and regional warehouses in the U.S. run the TWG initiative. The 13-week TWG program, initiated more than 10 years ago, develops and enhances standardized training programs for the distribution centers, establishes partnerships with state agencies and local nonprofits to identify job candidates, and focuses on developing an inclusive culture that fosters growth and development while increasing knowledge among all employees about disabilities. Roughly 12 percent of employees at Walgreens distribution centers and regional warehouses self-identified as disabled.
Walgreens also partners with community organizations to identify opportunities to support hiring of people with disabilities:
- Since 2012, Walgreens has partnered with the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation, an organization supporting individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Walgreens has hired more than 30 individuals from Walgreens Career College, a program for adults impacted by autism looking for meaningful employment. At the Turning Pointe location in Naperville, Illinois, Walgreens has created a mock retail Walgreens store where students receive training in various areas of retail and customer service before working in actual pharmacy locations.
- Walgreens is in its second year of a partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, which supports blind, visually impaired, disabled and veteran communities with vision care and support services. Walgreens works with its field operations and The Chicago Lighthouse to bring up to 10 students to work in Walgreens stores for six-week externships. Following last year’s program, some of the externs were extended employment opportunities with Walgreens.
“Walgreens has been at the forefront of disability inclusion efforts for many years,” said Carrie Provenzale, Turning Pointe’s executive director. “Walgreens has created a best practice environment in which our students can learn. And as a result, our students have gained confidence and felt more prepared to enter the workplace.”