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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Strategic CSR - Walgreens

The article in the url below is intended to focus on a new regulation being drafted by the Department of Labor that is designed to increase the number of disabled employees firms employ:

“… only about 20% of Americans with a physical or cognitive disability participate in the traditional workforce, and of that group 14% are unemployed--roughly twice the nondisabled rate. A regulation being pushed by the Department of Labor would try to improve those numbers by requiring any company with a federal contract worth $10,000 or more to give 7% of its jobs to people with disabilities. If passed, roughly 200,000 companies would be affected.”

In contrast to the debate surrounding this proposed regulation (and there are substantive reasons to believe the change will not produce the desired outcomes), what stayed with me after reading the article was the amazing metrics generated by disabled employees:

“As companies such as AMC Theatres, Home Depot, and Microsoft can attest, disabled workers can be a great asset. … New research from Walgreens suggests that this group makes for a particularly stable workforce. A study of its distribution centers by the American Society of Safety Engineers found that workers with disabilities had a turnover rate 48% lower than that of the nondisabled population, with medical costs 67% lower and time-off expenses 73% lower.”

Disabled employees are dependable and, in certain positions, much more efficient than non-disabled employees. Walgreens, more than many employers, has recognized this value and is willing to invest in these people in order to secure it:

“Doing this right takes time. The Walgreens disability outreach dates back to 2002, when Randy Lewis, then the company's senior vice president of supply chain and logistics, suggested making a new warehouse in Anderson, South Carolina, disability-friendly by switching from text-based to image-based equipment. The program launched in 2007 and was such a success that Walgreens next built the Windsor center, where roughly half of the staff has some manner of physical or cognitive disability. Windsor is the company's safest, most productive warehouse. Across Walgreens's 21 distribution centers, 10% of its employees are disabled; the company would like to increase that slice to 20%.”

Take care

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Disability Assurance
By Sara Cann
December 2012/January 2013
Fast Company Magazine