As multiple studies have shown, hiring individuals with disabilities is more than a moral imperative. It’s also good business. These individuals are typically hard-working, loyal, extremely productive, solution-oriented, and go a long way toward improving employee morale and company culture. In spite of all this, people with disabilities are far more likely than their non-disabled peers to be under-employed or unemployed. According to a June 2017 press release from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2016, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed. … In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.3 percent.”
Thankfully, some corporations are taking steps to change the status quo. One such corporation is CVS Health, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States.
Through a collaboration with the National Consortium of State-Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers, CVS has opened “mock stores” where people with disabilities can receive hands-on training that prepares them to work in actual CVS stores.
CVS affirmed its commitment to inclusive employment practices in a Nov. 2017 press release which described plans to open eight mock stores by spring 2018: “Individuals with disabilities receive classroom and hands-on training in life and job skills such as providing customer service, stocking shelves and working at the cash register,” said the release. “Each center is installed with mock equipment and participants work closely with trained staff to learn about the roles and responsibilities of front store and pharmacy technician positions. Individuals who complete the program qualify to apply for a position at CVS Pharmacy.”
Said David Casey, Vice president, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health: “CVS Health is focused on breaking down the employment barriers that individuals with disabilities face, which these facilities help to achieve. … We are proud to be working with the NCSOCRC to help people with disabilities access the security and prosperity that stable jobs can provide.”
Currently, mock stores are operating in locations across the country including Baltimore Maryland, Lowell Massachusetts, Johnstown Pennsylvania, Hot Springs Arkansas, Fisherville Virginia, Riverside California and Brooklyn New York.
Virginian, Kaylee Merrick, graduated from the CVS training program in 2016. Currently, she’s employed by a CVS Pharmacy in Northern Virginia. “[The CVS training program) has open arms to anyone and they have a lot of patience. It’s always a joy to see [customers at my job] and interact with them, it’s been amazing!” she said.