Dec 20, 2023

How Businesses Thrive with a Diverse Workforce

Businesses across industries are realizing the benefits of building inclusive workforces, especially when it comes to hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. Recent case studies showcase that integrating these employees is not just good for community relations, it also positively impacts productivity, company culture and the bottom line.


Walgreens has been at the forefront. In 2010, they launched their pilot program for a large part of their workforce to be made up of individuals with disabilities. According to the article Case Study: Walgreens Builds a Sustainable Model for Employing People with IDD, they believed it to be “sustainable to provide the same standards, same work, same pay and same performance measures to individuals with a variety of disabilities.” Since then, they have spread to Houston, New York, and then the nation.

Their model centers on customizing training approaches and implementing job coaching. In the article, Steve Pemberton explained, “We've had 500 candidates with disabilities through our program, and 66% have been successfully trained and placed in 100 stores in 16 markets.” This personal guidance helps employees master tasks and transition into roles. A training strategy they have begun implementing is using iconography, the practice of replacing text with pictures. This seems to have had a good impact as they are taking this practice up in more and more facilities.

According to Pemberton, he often hears stories that capture the happiness felt by a person with an intellectual and developmental disability when they receive their first paycheck “at the age of 35 or 40.” These life-changing moments highlight the value of work as a source of pride, purpose and self-sufficiency. Simply being paid for their employment efforts and contributions allows these individuals to enjoy the self-respect that comes from economic independence and productivity.


Google is committed to building an inclusive workforce that represents the diversity of its global users. A key aspect of this is their concerted effort to hire qualified candidates with developmental disabilities into company roles.

To attract applicants, Google has dedicated accommodation teams that ensure accessibility throughout the hiring process for those with developmental disabilities. Some examples are their use of AI for those who are blind or have low vision, and the Googleplex tour for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

These concerted efforts to eliminate barriers and provide customized assistance are already yielding results. Googlers with disabilities are making critical contributions across the company. On Google's hiring page with information for those with disabilities, it says, “Accessibility is built into who we are.” This statement is backed by how Google remains committed to seeking out neurodiverse talent, including those with developmental disabilities. As an innovator serving billions, Google realizes progress requires embracing diversity in all its forms across teams and roles company wide. Their accommodating and empowering hiring practices provide equal access while enabling them to benefit from unique talents.


The case studies of Walgreens and Google demonstrate that hiring people with developmental disabilities is socially responsible and makes good business sense. By building inclusive and accessible hiring practices and workplaces, these companies have gained loyal, diverse talent that enhances company culture. Employees with disabilities achieve self-sufficiency and purpose with these meaningful jobs. With customizable training and support, individuals with developmental conditions can thrive and exceed performance expectations across roles. As Walgreens and Google have exhibited, embracing neurodiversity strengthens companies, lives and communities everywhere. More organizations would do well to follow their lead. The success stories prove that those with disabilities are equally capable, needing only companies willing to meaningfully include them.