The nation’s largest minority is people with disabilities, comprising more than 50 million individuals (U.S. Census Bureau 2008), who contribute to the diversity that nurtures new ideas and supports businesses become more competitive in a diverse marketplace. Businesses can improve their competitive edge if they take steps to integrate underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities, into their workforce [Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) 2005]. This untapped pool offers a source of skilled and dedicated employees to counter the effects of the aging and shrinking workforce, especially in the hospitality and tourism industry, which is labor intensive and faces high employee turnover rates (Ball et al. 2005; ODEP 2005). The goal of the study is to examine the benefits and challenges when employing people with disabilities and the best practices in proactively employing and managing workers with disabilities. Walgreens Co was selected as a purposive sample based on its initiative of proactively hiring people with disabilities and aiming to employ 20 percent of employees with disabilities in their distribution centers and 10 percent in their stores. Walgreens Co is the nation’s biggest drugstore chain, is included in the top 500 Fortune companies and is an active member of the US business leadership network that is a national disability organization that supports best practices in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities. The study aims to use Walgreens initiative as a benchmark for the hospitality industry and inform hospitality employers of the best practices of employing and managing this untapped group of workforce. Finally, since baby boomers have already started retiring resulting in an aging and shrinking workforce, the study aims to provide human resources professionals with solutions in improving and expanding their candidates’ pools and ensuring a better workforce. (CNNMoney, 2011; U.S. Business Leadership Network, 2011)


Hospitality Management

Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceeding of the 2012 advances in Hospitality and Tourism Marketing and Management Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding