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Chehalis Grocery Outlet's Commitment to Hiring People with Disabilities

Michael and Nicole Morgan, owners/managers of the Chehalis Grocery Outlet, are a remarkable duo who have caught the accolades of the Lewis County Autism Coalition and Cultivating Inclusion for their hiring individuals with disabilities.

In talking with Michael, you see his deep understanding and connection with people.  “Quite honestly hiring an individual with a disability is part of an employment based opportunity.  We don’t see people with a disability when we look at our employees. You take the time to get to know someone, understand what their passion and skill sets are.  We work with them in terms of comfort”, he pointed out.

He and Nicole wanted to reflect the community in which they live. “We have employed around 20 percent of people with disabilities in our workforce.  It was a target, but not a specific number we were trying to hit.  ‘Let’s create that same diversity among our workforce as we have culturally’. It took probably 4 to 5 years but we started to realize that sea-change. It is a workforce, an employee pool, and it is the right thing to do. But I would argue that everyone can be employed,” he said.

Michael and Nicole work from a position of realizing and utilizing a person’s strength and desires, “You have got to find specific niches for each employee.  Invest in people and be willing to test boundaries,” he added. They also saw a change in other staff at the store, “Once you have been around a person with a disability, you go through that whole process of acceptance; who is this person, to an awareness, to how can I help,” he said. The inclusive culture is viewed not only by Michael and the staff but is noticed by parents of those with disabilities who frequent the store.

He would tell other perspective employers, “that no matter what your trepidation is whatever your fear or concern is, just do it. Because you will find value added in what they bring. It is all about identifying their skills and attributes and what turns them on. I wish we had more vocal proponents for hiring people with disabilities so that we can demystify this idea of what a disability is. That is the sole question for me. “

Further on in the interview, Michael addressed the issue of productivity in people with disabilities. “These employees are beloved. You can’t put a value solely on productivity. There is a social aspect amongst our staff and customers in our store.  The social aspect of this is equally important as productivity. It is what people come to expect when they come to the store. To me that is everything.”

He concluded, “The intrinsic wins for us involve people coming and saying they want to do a more challenging job. The tendency to hold on to these people should never trump their desire to move on from here.  We are excited for them.  It is part of their growth process. We are happy for them.”

Thank you Michael and Nicole, for your commitment in hiring individuals with disabilities at Grocery Outlet!

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