New York City Mayor de Blasio and the Office for People With Disabilities hosted a reception to commend businesses, organizations, and individuals at the forefront of disability advocacy. The event celebrated the 27th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and highlighed the work of disabilities advocates in New York City.
Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans living with disabilities. To honor and celebrate the passage of the ADA, each year, the City of New York presents four awards in recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities known as the ADA Awards.
This year, the CVS Health New York City Regional Learning Center (RLC) team was recognized by the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities with the Title 1 Sapolin Employment award. This award recognizes the outstanding efforts from an employer in New York City to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to obtain competitive employment.
Amanda Tierney (RLC Manager), and Joana Lisboa (RLC Coordinator) were recognized for their work across New York City. Since 2014, more than 250 individuals with disabilities have completed a work experience program within CVS retail stores in New York City. In March 2017, the Regional Learning Center team opened a mock CVS training store at the Brooklyn Transition Center in Brooklyn, New York.
CVS Health has been named a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" on the annual Disability Equality Index (DEI), with a top score of 100 for the second year in a row. The Index measures key performance indicators across organizational culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement, support services and supplier diversity.
Breaking Down Barriers to Employment for Individuals with Disabilities
A joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN), the Disability Equality Index (DEI) offers an objective score to participating organizations on their disability inclusion policies and practices.
"At CVS Health, we are focused on breaking down the employment barriers that individuals with disabilities face and believe our colleagues, customers and individuals in the community, of all abilities, are what help our company and the community to grow and thrive," said Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, CVS Health. "We are proud to be recognized for our efforts on the Disability Equality Index for the second year in a row.”
Our Commitment to Diversity in the Workplace
CVS Health has a long history of creating meaningful job training and career opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Through one such initiative, we have partnered with the National Consortium of State Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers to launch mock pharmacies where individuals with disabilities can learn skills necessary for careers in retail environments. Similarly, we operate several Regional Learning Centers, where we collaborate with government agencies, community organizations, and educational institutions to create job training programs that are often designed for individuals with disabilities.
This recognition is the latest in a series of third-party acknowledgments for CVS Health's commitment to supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace, including: FORTUNE'S Most Admired Companies; Corporate Responsibility Magazine's 100 Best Corporate Citizens; Human Rights Campaign's Top Places to Work for LGBT Equality; Points of Light's The Civic 50, Military Times Best for Vets; the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
To see a full list of the companies recognized on the 2018 Disability Equality Index, please visit https://disabilityequalityindex.org/top_companies.
Around 1 in 5 Americans, or more than 55 million people, live with a disability. Unfortunately, finding a job can be much more difficult for this population than for people living without a disability. In 2016, the unemployment rate for the disabled was more than double the rate for those without a disability. While these figures are cause for concern, many businesses have ramped up disability inclusion initiatives in recent years and CVS Health has been at the forefront of these efforts.
CVS Health sees abilities in abundance
CVS Health has a long history of promoting diversity in the workplace. Initiatives aimed at disability inclusion have earned the company accolades from organizations like the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Most recently, CVS Health has received attention from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (NYSDDPC) and Our Ability, a company dedicated to building employment opportunities for the disabled.
Through a nationwide network of Workforce Initiatives Programs, CVS Health offers employment training opportunities to a diverse group of disadvantaged individuals, including those with disabilities. As part of a video series highlighting disability inclusion initiatives in New York businesses, NYSDDPC and Our Ability featured several CVS Health employees with disabilities who had completed job training at the regional learning center in New York City.
Seen in the video are Kevin, Jeanette, and Ronald, engaging in job-related tasks and discussing what their jobs mean to them. “Helping customers makes me happy,” Ronald says. “I enjoy working with my managers, my supervisors,” Kevin declares. “They’re all great. And my teammates, too.”
Also seen are employees like Edward Galis, a CVS Health Store Manager who supervises Kevin. “He’s actually one of the best employees that I have,” Galis says about Kevin. “He always has a smile on his face, he’s always happy, he’s always eager to be here.”
While CVS Health believes in a responsibility to promote disability inclusion in the workplace, partnering with organizations like Our Ability and NYSDDPC has significantly strengthened these efforts and improved employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
“As a society, it takes great partnerships to tackle some of our most complex problems,” Our Ability CEO John Robinson said. “The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is the highest among any diversity category. Between leading businesses, community activism and individual inspiration, we can build employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We are proud to work with a leader in this category with CVS Health. We look forward to continuing our work together across all of New York State and beyond.”
Diversity, disability inclusion a core part of corporate identity
At CVS Health, efforts to foster diverse workplaces are driven by the belief that the diversity of customers and communities served should be reflected in the workforces serving them. For this reason, inclusion in the workplace has become a core part of corporate identity. “Disability inclusion, like all inclusion, is about diversity of thought and diversity of experiences in order to be able to help the communities in which we serve,” Dana Fitzgerald, a CVS HR Business Partner in New York City, said in the video produced by NYSDDPC and Our Ability.
The emphasis on inclusion at CVS Health has not gone unrecognized. Last year, USBLN and AAPD awarded CVS Health with the top rating of 100 on the 2017 Disability Equality Index. Additionally, through partnerships with organizations like NYSDDPC and Our Ability, CVS Health is able to leverage past experience with diversity initiatives to help other businesses do the same.