Sometimes, you find a story so inspirational, it could almost bring a tear to your eye.
Disability in the workplace is something that will not go away, and something that deserves sensitivity and maturity. In this article, the ex-SVP of Walgreens outlines just how he personally got involved in making his organisation (a very large one) more inclusive.
There are a number of features here that really stand out. First, there is the element of ‘visionary thinking’ involved. Randy Lewis had to fight against some pretty tough opposition to get his crowning achievement, a distributions centre, up to speed. It became a model for inclusiveness for Walgreens.
So visionary thinking with disability works, then.
Another exciting aspect about this story is the fact that efficiency and productivity were not in any way adversely affected by the workforce in the centre, which obviously proves a lot. But the biggest takeaway from that finding is that Lewis makes it clear the whole exercise was business minded, and not just an attempt to be inclusive. The two should go hand in hand.
Of course, there is the element of personal experience. Randy’s son had a disability, and this supercharged his efforts. It is often the people and things that matter most to us that drive us to our biggest successes.
Lessons for every business to learn
It’s a long article, but it bears reading. From the misery of disabled people being labelled ‘ancillary’ workers to the concept of the word ‘them’ being crossed out to indicate the presence of a completely inclusive culture, there are lessons here for every business to learn.
For the business owner who employs disabled people, and tries hard to make them comfortable and content at work, ask yourself why you do this.
Is it to make them feel better? Is it to make you feel better?
Or is it because you’re not a charity, you have a business to run, and everyone deserves to play his or her part?
I suspect the latter. Randy exemplified this approach. Maybe every business, small or large, needs to start thinking in this sensitive, but ultimately practical way.
No tears after reading this article, after all. But I did feel a wave of admiration for an incredibly committed and visionary professional. If you have had a similar experience or know somebody who has, then I would love to hear from you.