At Meijer stores, blind and low-vision consumers can use the Aira app to help with shopping.
Walmart, CVS and Walgreens led other food retailers when it comes crafting a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities, according to new research.
The recognition comes from the 2020 Disability Equality Index (DEI), a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). The listings reflect such metrics as employment, accessibility, community engagement and support services.
Walmart and CVS were among the companies that scored 100% on the list. Other food retailers — Meijer, Amazon and The Kroger Co. — scored 90%. Target scored 80%.
The 100% score doesn't indicate perfection, according to the index, but simply signals that a company “adheres to many of the numerous leading disability inclusion practices” recommended by the index operators. Any company that scores 80% or more is considered a DEI Best Place to Work.
One recent example of how food retailers can better serve disabled consumers comes from Meijer. The chain uses the Aira app to support blind and low-vision customers. Aira connects users to trained remote agents through smartphone cameras. At the touch of a button, Aira can connect Meijer customers needing visual assistance with anything from reading in-store signage to product labels. The service used to be available for a per-minute fee at Meijer, but with the new partnership, it's now complimentary.
"We appreciate the continued recognition of our journey toward creating environments that make all people feel welcomed, supported and meaningfully engaged," said Timothy Williams, Meijer’s VP of diversity and inclusion. "Our Meijer Disability Awareness & Advocacy Group (mDAAG) team members deserve much of the credit for our continuous innovation in this space. They inspire all of us to constantly push ourselves to do more."
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam's Club ranks No. 9 on the list.
Walgreens operates 9,277 drug stores, with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with its omnichannel business, Walgreens.com. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100.
With its CVS Pharmacy subsidiary operating almost 10,000 locations nationwide, CVS Health is No. 6 on The PG 100.
Target operates more than 1,800 stores, 39 distribution centers and Target.com. The Minneapolis-based company is No. 7 on The PG 100.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer operates more than 245 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 19 on The PG 100.