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Knowing the Answer to “Why?” Begs the Question, “How?”

First let’s review…

Why Employing People with Disabilities Increases Profitability

  • Retention– Companies consistently report significant positive and profitable differences between retention rates for employees with disabilities compared to non-disabled employees.

  • Increased Labor Pool– Today’s businesses are in the race of their lives to find anyone who can learn to do their jobs successfully. The proportion of people with disabilities in the available labor pool is steeply increasing.

  • Safety – Data collected in industrial settings show that employees with disabilities provide significant savings because they have less severe safety incidents and return to work faster. Data collected in non-industrial settings shows that the impact of having a disability-inclusive workforce minimizes bullying and other psychological safety concerns.

  • Workforce Stability– The influence of improved retention due to employing people with disabilities also has an impact on improving retention within an entire workforce.

  • Management Efficiencies– Managing “in the grey” (e.g. treating an employee as an individual to maximize performance) for employees with disabilities is a behavior that bleeds over to how managers treat all employees. This shows a measurable increase in management effectiveness.

  • Brand – Research shows that candidates, consumers and even shareholders now prefer companies with a disability inclusive workforce.

Want more info? See the attachment below for further review! J

The next logical question is…

“So How Does it Work”?

The premise of a Disability Inclusion practice is simple; employing people with disabilities is good for business. I have spent the past 12 years helping companies learn how to employ people with disabilities efficiently and effectively. A Google search of “disability employment inclusion” will bring you more than 66,000 stories of just how beneficial it is, but very few explain how to accomplish it. So let me tell you!

Disability Inclusion is Simple

After helping more than 200 companies explore disability inclusion, I feel safe to say disability inclusion happens in many ways. Most of these ways involve developing a comprehensive strategy to address all the needed key components while other ways simply involve improving the internal business culture to encourage those with disabilities to disclose.

Moving from the “Walgreens Model”

We were the first ones to define Disability Inclusion on a large scale. The success and sustainability are attributable to 3 components: time, flexibility and a solid vision (with fabulous leaders to articulate the vision).

  • Time– The company started its journey in 2004. We hired our first employees via our disability inclusion model in 2007, more than 11 years ago. Only time has allowed for solid policies and procedures to make it a success.

  • Flexibility– When people see or hear about the Walgreens journey, it’s important to take the lessons and apply them to their specific circumstance. Since the first hire, we focused on improving our processes. We reviewed, adjusted and were willing to back track and move down another path, if necessary.

  • Vision– Our vision remained stable the whole time (figure out how to employ people with disabilities in a manner that is fair to customers, employees and share-holders). Fortunately, when the leaders changed, the leadership remained consistent.

There is no actual “Walgreens Model”

… just a Directive and a Will.

Each Distribution Center customized the model, in some cases drastically, to achieve the vision. When companies visit one inclusive facility, they have only seen one version… It’s like saying you understand Chinese food when you have only sampled Chow Mein.

Are there guides?

There are many guides written to explain how to employ people with disabilities. The most comprehensive I have seen is the Poses Family Foundation’s DIY Guide at There is nothing else that compares. I am not just saying this because I helped co-write it, but it combined the wisdom and experience of three consultants that have been in the field the longest and have the most experience helping companies create sustainable disability inclusion initiatives. I also have a link to it on my website.

What’s Deb Russell Inc.’s Methodology?

During the month of August, I will be outlining the methodology I follow to help companies. I encourage you to check out the DIY Guideand follow the method I will be outlining this month. I know of very few companies that have been able to embark on the journey alone, so please feel free to ask for help!! Let’s do it together.

Follow my methodology !! I can’t wait to share it with you.

Please feel free to send any and all questions or comments to Thank you!

image with reasons for employing people with disabilities: Better Retention, Management Efficiencies, Workforce Stability, Improved Safety, Labor Shortage, Brand, and a link to
Employing people with disabilities isn't just as good, its better, more profitable!

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