We vote with our dollars. When you buy something, you are not only saying that you like the product, but that you support their corporate philosophy and what they do as a company. As special needs parents we need to band together and vote with our dollars, in order to create opportunities for our kids.
In 2014, I did a book review of No Greatness Without Goodness. It’s a phenomenal book and a heartwarming story about one man’s mission to create a community and create real life, fair paying employment opportunities for people with disabilities. I can’t recommend the book enough. If you are looking for a holiday gift idea for any special needs family or any business person who has the access to change lives like this….GET THEM THIS BOOK!
But first, let’s get REAL about the abysmal statistics regarding employment and people with disabilities:
Only one-third (32.0%) of working-age people with disabilities were employed on average in the 2010-2012 period, compared to over two-thirds (72.7%) of people without disabilities.
That statistic is from our very own US Department of Labor. I should probably clarify for those who have not read the book….in the book, Randy talks about hiring people with disabilities at his Distribution Centers, at rates of upwards of 40%. Unheard of! He talks about all the accommodations and little things that they did, to make it work for folks. All the obstacles, getting the buy-in….and in the end, it makes financial sense too. So when I say that these companies “are supporting the hiring of people with disabilities” I mean hiring them at rates previously unheard of. I can’t thank him enough for being such a trailblazer and making the world a better place for our kids.
Since doing that review, I connected with Randy Lewis on Twitter and I visit his website, NOGWOG, quite often. For the holidays, I have been meaning to compile a list of retailers who have gone out of their way to support hiring people with disabilities. Some companies are large, national retailers like Randy’s Walgreens. Others are small and doing what they can in their small way to do this. When I tried doing an internet search, and I tried a zillion terms, I could not find a list of retailers. So I emailed the folks at NOGWOG and got some suggestions from them. So here is a list of retailers to support because they are going above and beyond and trying to create better and fair opportunities for people with disabilities. Keep in mind, this is above and beyond just hiring people. This is changing distribution centers, building in special accommodations, having HR actively work with employment non-profits and seek out people with disabilities to hire them. This incorporating it into their corporate strategy, making it a part of the mindset.
The book of course is about the Walgreens story. So Walgreens is at the top of the list.
After that there are several other companies who are currently doing initiatives, much like the initial distribution center that is talked about in the book. In other words, they think it’s more than a “good idea” in that they have invested time and money into doing this, it is just still in the early stages at these companies. So let’s get out there and show them that it matters to us….and vote with our dollars and tell them.
UPS-Didn’t we already love the guys in brown?
Pepsico-has a huge assortment of products to choose from. In 2016, the mean and nasty Trump supporters made things up (shocking!) that their CEO said, and tried to organize a boycott. She actually never said what they claimed.
Autozone-last year I went to the one in Kennett and I received such extraordinary customer service that I tweeted a thank you to them and emailed their HQ. Glad to know this about them too!
Procter and Gamble-more than just sappy commercials around the Olympics and Mothers’ Day…they are trying this! Yay!
West Marine-Ok, I don’t have a boat, but will definitely get this in my outdoors newspaper column too.
Locally I can tell you that both Acme and Cosi have won awards for hiring people with disabilities and working with agencies.
If you have a business you’d like to share, you can either email me or leave a comment. Please note, a few folks have already emailed me with some suggestions to add…but they are all sheltered workshops. That is the whole point of this essay–it’s about including people with disabilities in the regular work sites and NOT having them in sheltered workshops for pennies an hour. I know most people who operate sheltered workshops probably have good hearts and are well-intended, but they are passe and old-fashioned. It’s time for us to include people with disabilities in the regular workplace and treat them like….people and regular co-workers.