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Walgreens Launches National Initiative to Help Create More Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

May 14, 2012

Building upon its rich history of growing talent and recognizing ability through greater diversity in the workplace, Walgreens today launched its national Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI). The in-store training program aims to help people with disabilities gain retail and customer service skills, and works closely with community organizations and vocational rehabilitation agencies to train and develop candidates. Another similar initiative at Walgreens distribution centers resulted in 10 percent of the workforce being made up of people with disabilities at all levels across all 20 distribution centers. The company hopes to see the same success with REDI.

In 2010, the drugstore chain piloted the REDI program in the Dallas/Fort Worth area bringing together Walgreens store managers and job coaches funded by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to train candidates. After more than 200 trainees and 66 percent of REDI graduates were recommended for hire, the program grew to more than 150 stores throughout Texas, New York and Connecticut. To date, nearly 400 externs have completed training and more than 46 percent have been employed by Walgreens or other retailers.

“We are committed to helping customers live well, stay well and get well, and to do that you need team members who are dedicated to excellent customer service,” said Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management. “This program highlights ability and gives candidates the tools to be successful in any retail setting. This is a meaningful program for everyone touched by the initiative. Already, one enthusiastic REDI graduate now working for Walgreens in New York was named Customer Service Employee of the Month, just three months after being hired.”

The first phase of REDI will begin in parts of Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, with plans to reach all states by the end of 2013. Once a local agency is identified, there is a four-week training program which takes place in up to five stores per district. The goal is to prepare qualified candidates for employment in store positions, as well as positions in any retail setting that requires similar skills. Responsibilities include cash register operations, customer service, merchandising, store inventory and maintaining store signage and displays.

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