First phase of in-store training pilot led to 66 percent of REDI trainees recommended for hire
DEERFIELD, Ill., May 14, 2012 - Building upon its rich history of growing talent and recognizing ability through greater diversity in the workplace, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG)(NASDAQ: WAG) 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 (DC) resulted in 10 percent of the workforce being made up of people with disabilities at all levels across all 20 DCs. 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.”
According to a 2012 Allsup disability study analysis based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities continues to be much higher than for those with no disabilities.
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.
Walgreens is committed to maintaining a diverse workforce. Trained candidates can apply for service clerk positions at http://careers.walgreens.com/.
Walgreens Distribution Centers
Walgreens began designing its distribution center facilities and training for people with disabilities with the opening of its DC in Anderson, S.C., in 2007. The new DC, followed by the opening of another similar facility in Windsor, Conn., in 2009, helps drive opportunity, efficiency and productivity for the entire workforce.
As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,855 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.