Retired Walgreens Senior Vice President Randy Lewis and his son, Austin. Lewis is the author of the new book, “No Greatness without Goodness: How a Father’s Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement.”
The book isn’t only exceptional reading for business leaders who want their companies to become more efficient and profitable, but it also provides nuggets of wisdom and real life lessons for people who have the desire to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with those around them: friends, neighbours and co-workers.
During a speech in front of 5,000 Walgreen’s store managers at a conference in Las Vegas, he shared that “nearly 70 percent of individuals with disabilities and 95 percent of people with severe cognitive disabilities, like his son Austin, would never hold down a job.” This is not because people with disabilities cannot do the work, it’s because many employers fail to realize that hiring people with disabilities will actually increase the overall performance among all of their employees.
In the book, Lewis details how, with the inspiration from Austin, and the encouragement of his wife and strong support from the team at Walgreens, the company’s distribution centres not only met their first hiring goal of having 10 percent of its workforce being people with disabilities by 2011 — with some centres having 40 to 50 percent of their employees being those with disabilities — but they also witnessed increased productivity at the distribution centres that had hired people with disabilities.
Lewis also highlights in his book that there any many types of disabilities, especially in regard to employment, but what people need to keep in mind, be it at work or in public, is that people are people, regardless of whether their disability is visible to the world or not. “When hiring people with disabilities people ask me: what kind of disabilities can you hire? Or what kind of disabilities can you not employ? That’s always a common question.” Lewis said that what he and others discovered is that every disability is a spectrum. “We haven’t found a disability we can’t employ; we just can’t employ everybody on the entire spectrum. Just like with people ‘without disabilities,’ we can’t employ everybody on the spectrum of the typically able,” he noted. “I think the biggest thing that people overlook is that they’re people. They see their disability, they’re afraid about making a mistake; they’re afraid about using the right words. They feel uncomfortable and they fail to see the person,” he shared. “By the way, if you make a mistake with the right intent, with love, it doesn’t matter, people see that. They see the intent.” “Leaders need to love. If they don’t love, then they’ll never gain the trust. Here’s the deal: worthiness. Worthiness — that’s what Austin taught me; that everyone is worthy,” Lewis emphasized
Lewis reminds us not to forget this important truth. “Work is what sustains us and love fulfills us“.
“So if the book helps to remind somebody that, oh by the way, I’m infinitely important in this universe. And, by the way, so is everybody else. Then my job is done,” Lewis said.
“Use every opportunity to help others see meaning in their work. They will be transformed from brick layers to cathedral builders”.
“An important lesson for employers is TLC, T is for teach, L is for love and C is for challenge. If you only remember one of the three, remember love.” said Lewis. He also adamantly believes that there’s a longing inside people to make a difference in the world, because everyone has value. We are worthy, that’s the good news of faith. I’m part of something bigger and I’m loved and I’m worthy,” he explained. “I’m one person and everybody’s an infinitely important and worthy person too.” Recognizing that people have intrinsic value to God and his Christian faith are two things that Lewis is not afraid to share, because it has provided strength for his family, and enabled him to impact the world by helping employers see that people with disabilities, once given the opportunity, can become valuable employees. “God has gotten a lot bigger as I’ve gotten older. Fear has kept me quiet in the past when I should have spoken up. It has kept me still when I should I should have acted. “There were times when I was afraid, and that’s when faith came in, and knowing that I was not alone,” he said. “Throughout this process, I was not alone.” Lewis noted that some people believe that what’s been achieved at Walgreens was a monumental and difficult task, but he said that not taking action, when he could have, bothered him much more than any potential failure.. Lewis also highlights in his book that there any many types of disabilities, especially in regard to employment, but what people need to keep in mind, be it at work or in public, is that people are people, regardless of whether their disability is visible to the world or not.