NEW YORK — Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson was featured as a best-practice employer on a CNBC segment Tuesday afternoon on the hiring of Americans with disabilities. Walgreens employs approximately 1,000 persons with disabilities throughout its supply chain, or 10% of its supply chain workforce. Wasson wants to hit that mark across its retail workforce as well, Wasson said.
The Kessler Foundation, a national organization spearheading employment efforts among persons with disabilities, reported that as many as 70% of Americans with disabilities are not working. That translates into about 10 million potential taxpayers. "What we've been focused on at Kessler — how can we demonstrate to American corporations that hiring people with disabilities adds to their bottom line, potentially adds to their market share and does something great that helps an individual feel like they are contributing to society again," commented Rodger DeRose, Kessler Foundation CEO.
Wasson testified to the many benefits that materialize out of a motivated workforce. "They absolutely can be qualified to work in a variety of positions in our supply chain and distribution centers and retail stores and really have a deep-down desire to do the best job they can," he said. "We started employing people with disabilities in the first distribution center in North Carolina [some] eight years ago. We have studies that show 20% fewer accidents in our distribution centers, we have 70% lower workers' compensation costs, lower absenteeism and nearly twice the retention," he said. "This was not charity for us. This is about making sure we have the same standards for people with disabilities and typically abled people, and the entire work environment has improved."
The two distribution centers where nearly 40% of the workforce incorporate persons with disabilities are 20% more efficient than the company's older generation DCs, Wasson added.
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