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WORKPLACE Connection

Overlooked Workers

This insert is designed to share with employers to educate them about employment for workers with disabilities.

Organizations that Hire People with Disabilities Part I


Success Stories v James ONeal has severe facial disfigurement caused by neurofibromatosis. He has advanced from courtesy clerk to helper clerk, customer service clerk, and checker in less than three years. Scott Wahl, the manager who hired Jim, stated that, he had been a customer who I got to know as people friendly. You just felt good being around him. In reviewing his past work history, he had only two sick days in 18 years in his prior job. After hiring Jim, he became my go-to person. Ive used him everywhere, and hes had no absences in three years. Jim is a highly valued employee who is earning close to $17 per hour, with additional overtime. v Patrick Spraw and Todd Harris, who both use a wheelchair, work as courtesy clerks, with Patrick also functioning as a greeter and in customer service. They truly enjoy the customers, and the customers want to know where they are if they are not at work, says store manager Steve Mooers. These two individuals each work 20 hours a week. Other employees with cerebral pasly and multiple scleroris work at this store as courtesy clerks and checkers. The check stands at this store (and others) have been modified to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities. Unique Practices v Safeway managers have been responsive to any number of rehabilitation agencies or people with disabilities that have approached them (about employment). In a number of cases, Safeway managers have not shied away from more difficult placement efforts and the inclusion of rehabilitation support which has included onsite trainers, and during high-visibility portions of the workday.

ike a testimonial, organizations operating in uncharted waters about a given area (like hiring people with disabilities) are more likely to hire workers theyre not familiar with when they learn about companies that have already done so successfully. The following are several of the many organizations that are successfully hiring people with disabilities. Additional companies will be profiled next month in part two of this two-part article. Safeway Stores Safeway Stores has 1,700 grocery stores in the United States and Canada. It is the third-largest employer in the state of Washington, the largest in Alaska, and ranks in the top 10 in Montana. In reviewing the progress the company has made in terms of hiring individuals with disabilities, Cherie Myers, Northwest Division director, describes the process as initially a bottom-up effort led by specific store managers. Twenty years ago, a store manager was introduced to a new bakery employee with Down syndrome who had become an excellent employee with an outstanding safety record. Upon hearing this news, the current Safeway president began reinforcing similar hiring efforts throughout the company. Today, President Greg Sparks continues to underscore community outreach efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities. The company has been very open to supported employment that supplies a job coach for new employees with significant disabilities. Stores have worked effectively with Easter Seals, Goodwill, Washington Vocational Services, State Vocational Rehabilitation, Lighthouse for the Blind, Vadis Northwest, and other community rehabilitation service providers.

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WORKPLACE Connection
Spokane Home Builders Association The Spokane Home Builders Association is an association comprised of 900 dues paying area builders and associate members. A major emphasis has been placed on its residential carpentry apprenticeship program, which is the only program of its type in the Northwest. One of the programs goals is to award 20-25 apprenticeships per year to qualified individuals with disabilities. This number can fluctuate depending on the needs of the industry. Unique Practices v It is unusual for an association involving the construction trades to make an outreach effort on behalf of individuals with disabilities that includes both workplace accommodations and hiring considerations. Kim Waseca, apprenticeship director, not only offers training to individuals with disabilities, but also assists in securing jobs with one of the home builders within the association. This is actually an association of small businesses (i.e., contractors with two to five employees devoted to the building trade). Given the time demands on those involved in small businesses, this apprenticeship program is exemplary. v In addition to the apprenticeship effort, Waseca and the association offer both personnel and logistical support to other organizations (e.g., area Project With Industry and Business Leadership Network) that are concerned with the employment and career advancement of people with disabilities. Walgreens With so many stereotypes and portrayals about people with disabilities, Walgreens management decided to use education to dispel the myths. Through training and experiential opportunities for its management team, the company showed that people with disabilities can be successful in highly competitive environments. Broadening the workforce by employing people with disabilities is not just a nice gesture, it makes good business sense. Walgreens found that with the right mix of training, technology and awareness, the newest generation of distribution centers runs more efficiently and productively than older counterparts. Walgreens is eager to share what its learned about disability inclusion in the workplace with other businesses. We originally went into this project wanting to change the work environment, said Randy Lewis, Walgreens senior vice president of supply chain and logistics, but soon discovered we were the ones who changed in dramatic and wonderful ways. One doesnt need an expert to implement a disability inclusion initiative, just some faith and strong partners who believe in the same goal. Some of the best lessons came from the experience of managing and working in a respectful, inclusive workplace that continues to hold high expectations for team members with or without a disability. National Recognition From employment opportunities to training, Walgreens is recognized nationwide for its disability inclusion initiatives in the workplace. Here are some of the highlights: v CAREERS & the disABLED Magazine named Walgreens its 2010 Private-Sector Employer of the Year. v The company also received state honors for maximizing the possibilities for those with autism and related disorders in Pennsylvania. v Walgreens distribution center in Mount Vernon, Ill. won national recognition from the National Rehabilitation Association. v In 2008, Floridas Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Division of Blind Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Agency for Workforce Innovation awarded Walgreens for its leadership in employing individuals with disabilities.
Sources: Walgreens; Business, Disability, and Employment: Corporate Models of Success series by Brian McMahon, Paul Wehman, Valerie Brooke, Rochelle Habeck, Howard Green, and Robert Fraser, www.worksupport.com and Virginia Commonwealth / VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports and Job Retention.

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