In Starbucks, Employee Diversity Extends To People With Disabilities

In Starbucks, Employee Diversity Extends To People With Disabilities
STARBUCKS Brian Uhreen / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Back in September, Starbucks announced it partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), the National Organization on Disability (NOD), and the Crispus Attucks Association in order to develop the very first Starbucks Inclusion Academy.


It is a unique program wherein people with disabilities are able to participate in an on-the-job training for six weeks, which allows the experience working in Starbucks manufacturing, warehousing and distribution departments. Today, the success of the said program is seen in various Starbucks location in the U.S. and abroad.

Take for example the Starbucks Facilities Operations and Services where manager Vicki Askew proudly says that diversity in this form is important. She explained, “When people think differently, they bring useful perspectives to the table.” In fact, Askew works with two Starbucks partners (employees) with Down Syndrome as well as another one who is legally blind. Meanwhile, there is also Taylor Yukawa who was just a student at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf back in 2014. Today, he has become a fulltime partner in the company’s finance department.

National Organization on Disability President Carol Glazer said that there are over 56 million Americans who live with a certain form of disability, but that should not stop corporate America from recognizing their talent and possible contributions to the workplace. Glazer was present during a recent ceremony that honors graduates of the Starbucks Inclusion Academy in York, Pennsylvania, which also commemorated the 20th anniversary of Starbucks’ plant there.

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Meanwhile, Starbucks has also been working with job opportunity site Getting Hired to provide more job opportunities to people with disabilities. In fact, GettingHired, Inc. product owner Adam Streets said that the site has become one of the largest disability job board in America since it partnered with companies such as Starbucks.

At the same time, employee diversity is also encouraged in Starbucks offices and locations outside the US. In Thailand, for instance, Starbucks customers are welcomed by café attendant Sirinlak Chalat. She has Down Syndrome and one of the warmest smiles you will ever see.