Building Talented and Diverse Teams
At WBA, we know that diversity of experience, knowledge and thought leads to fresh perspectives and new ideas. Having a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve helps us better understand and respond to our customers’ unique challenges and opportunities. When we attract, develop and retain the best talent from a broader pool, it helps us build deeper, more trusting relationships with all of our stakeholders.
To help deliver on our commitment to fostering diverse, equitable and inclusive teams, over the last two years, we introduced leadership accountability goals by segment and global function, and we implemented diverse slates and interview panels for all leadership positions globally.
But We Also Know That Having Diversity Is Not Enough
To be successful, we must build an equitable and inclusive culture. This is the only way to ensure that team members have a strong sense of belonging and the opportunity to bring their authentic selves to work. It encourages collaboration and insight. It gives employees the chance to reach their fullest potential by being curious and bringing forth their best thinking.
For example, our UK-based Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Business Resource Group (BRG) hosted a panel discussion called Race at Work. During the conversation, a diverse panel of leaders spoke candidly about their experiences with racial inequality and shared their ideas about what everyone can do to help eradicate racism in the workplace and across society. Participants were encouraged to "pay it forward" by initiating conversations with their team members with supporting toolkits. Following the session, Boots Senior Vice President and Managing Director Sebastian James began a reverse mentoring relationship that is helping him to hear and understand the views, feelings and lived experience of our Black colleagues, in particular.
Additionally, insights from this session and others informed an action plan to help Boots drive permanent change across the business, forming the Boots Racial Equity Charter. The charter outlines three commitments to help us bring about permanent change within our organization:
Deliver ongoing team member education and development on diversity and inclusion.
Create a workforce that reflects the customers, patients and communities we serve.
Build brands and services that reflect the communities we serve.
To support the charter, our business and marketing teams are working even more closely with the DE&I team and BRGs to ensure we are communicating authentically with our customers, including adding several cultural and faith celebrations to the annual calendar of customer events. We are working to ensure that the images in our marketing campaigns are ethnically and culturally diverse, with the Boots UK 2020 Winter Flu campaign the most diverse yet. And the September/October issue of Boots Health & Beauty magazine included several articles in celebration of Black History Month and received industry recognition for being "bold and facing into uncomfortable conversations."
Empowering Team Members to Lead the Way
Looking Beyond the Surface
Our Pride Alliance BRG sponsored a panel on "Intersectionality: Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts." WBA seeks to create a culture where everyone – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality and religion – is welcome. Our deepening understanding of intersectionality helps to increase partnerships, collaborations and allyship among team members.
Learning About Our Differences
In partnership with the Network of Executive Women (NEW), our WBA Latino Professionals BRG sponsored a panel discussion about the issues that make Latina employees' experience different, including challenges, personal experiences, and potential solutions.
Opening Hearts and Minds
The disAbility Alliance BRG provides members the chance to share their experiences with disabilities and conditions, such as autism, epilepsy and dyslexia, and to help build awareness and understanding across WBA. Members of the BRG regularly partner with DE&I to support key business activities, including helping ensure an inclusive mindset is used in attracting, hiring and promoting our workforce and expanding accessibility in our workplace.
Celebrating Our Employees’ Diversity
Our desire to better understand one another is not an initiative but rather a continuous journey. Throughout the year – day in and day out – we seek out opportunities to learn about one another and celebrate our differences.
International Women’s Day
In 2020, the theme of International Women’s Day was #EachforEqual, focusing on how individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact. With that in mind, Women of WBA BRGs around the world hosted various virtual events and discussions covering a wide range of women’s topics, such as leadership, career and health.
World Day for Cultural Diversity
In 2021, during a full week of events for World Day for Cultural Diversity, team members had the opportunity to join with one another to learn about the value of cultural diversity and the benefits it brings to our customers, our business and each other. Our Global Connection Circles grouped three to six team members from different divisions and countries in activities and discussions to promote intercultural dialogue and engagement with one another. The celebrations culminated in a leadership panel where team members heard directly from WBA senior leaders on how culture has shaped their personal and professional journeys. To drive awareness and promote conversation, team members also were invited to share their cultural stories, giving insights into something unique and special about their culture that shaped who they are today.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
“It’s been heartbreaking for me to see so much hostility toward Asian Americans over the past year. I’m grateful that our allies and leaders at WBA are standing up to support us. But in our communities, there are still some who are not. What we ask of them is to stop listening to hate, stop telling de-humanizing jokes, stop stereotyping us and to stop hurting us. Instead, speak up and help amplify our stories. Listen to our voices and learn our history. Asian American history is American history.”
At its heart, Juneteenth is a celebration. At WBA, ours included a fireside chat, "Free to Be...", sponsored by our African American Leadership BRG. Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack hosted this event, which featured our very own Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) alums and Divine Nine (Black fraternities and sororities) members. The chat encompassed why HBCUs are still vital to the Black community and how Black Greek letter organizations have helped their careers. In a message to team members, Carlos Cubia, senior vice president and global chief diversity officer, encouraged everyone to learn about Juneteenth “and the many contributions that African Americans have made in building this country.” He also encouraged team members to celebrate and unify around this day by making connections that may not already exist.
Creating a Disability-Inclusive Workplace
A cornerstone of our commitment to equity is our endeavor to include people with disabilities in all aspects of our business. We know that fostering a disability-inclusive workplace and culture has enabled us to tap into a wider talent pool and gain insight into the needs of an important segment of our customer base. Their unique perspectives and experiences lead to greater innovation, and we know that team members with disabilities continue to make our organization better.
Increasing Career Opportunities
Working with community organizations and vocational, state and local agencies, we attract and develop key talent to support two unique signature programs. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we remained committed to these employees and programs.
Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI)
During a three- to six-week in-store externship, participants learn valuable retail skills such as customer service, checkout, stocking and more, qualifying them for employment at our Walgreens stores.
As of the end of Fiscal 2021, REDI worked with 1728 trainees in 332 stores across 38 states.
enrolled in the program
Transitional Work Group (TWG)
During a 13-week program, we use a combination of classroom work and on-the-job training and coaching to prepare participants to become temporary hires and eventually permanent employees for a Walgreens distribution center or regional warehouse position.
Distribution Centers at any given time
employees at our Distribution Centers have disabilities
“During my TWG training, I learned the distribution process and how to use the equipment. Today, I work on a line, unpacking and loading products based on specific orders from our stores. I love the challenge and working with my colleagues.”
“These are bright, talented individuals who sometimes have the deck stacked against them. I’ve found that the employees who come through REDI often work twice as hard as others and are willing to take on challenges to show what they can do.”
Helping to Create a Disability-Smart World
Ensuring Equity for All of Our Team Members
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, staying connected in a digital world can bring unexpected challenges. Marianne Grote is a senior strategy analyst for WBA in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department. She’s also deaf. WBA provides resources to support team members who are deaf or hard of hearing, such as live captions for Microsoft Teams meetings and a foreign/sign language interpreting service. But working remotely due to COVID-19 presented new challenges to these individuals.
“For those of us with disabilities, we learned to be resourceful early on in life, through necessity, and we bring these skills into the workplace, applying them to everything we do.”
Marianne suggests ways people can be more mindful when working with a deaf or hard-of-hearing colleague, such as introducing your name before speaking to the group, speaking one at a time and enunciating words clearly. These tips benefit all – not just deaf and hard of hearing team members. In person, she suggests finding opportunities to create that 6-foot distance to ensure safety while seeing each other’s faces.
Marianne adds that it’s important to make sure that team members with disabilities are included, “because they offer a unique perspective, along with their talents and backgrounds." Open-minded leaders and managers give people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing employees, an opportunity to be hired and promoted from within. WBA is committed to providing the resources needed for everyone to have the same opportunities to succeed.
Recognizing the Value of Our Heroes
Many veterans programs only offer a job. We established our Helping Veterans with Educational and Retail Opportunities (HERO) program to offer a path to store management. This innovative program merges the chance to continue to enhance their leadership experience in the civilian world while pursuing a bachelor’s degree to help them achieve their educational goals. Participants enjoy on-the-job mentorship with Walgreens leaders and enter our award-winning and college credit-eligible LEAP Program Retail Management Training program to gain the knowledge, training and tools they need to succeed.
Through the HERO program, we have hired:
Once a part of our team, veterans have a strong support system, including the opportunity to join WVETS Business Resource Group (BRG), a grassroots network of current Walgreens team members composed of former veteran and military service members, active National Guard and Reserve service members, and military and veteran supporters and allies. Activities include networking, peer mentoring, education, professional development and community service opportunities.
Through our participation in the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program, Walgreens has proudly pledged to recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. And we provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage team members who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
“At a time when we are acutely focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, we embrace our veterans, who bring their widely diverse backgrounds and individual experiences to enrich how Walgreens serves our customers and patients, our communities and each other.”