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The Wall Street Journal reports that Starbucks, as it continues its rapid expansion of stores throughout the country, “is trying to tap into the growing pool of job seekers with disabilities. The goal: to make its stores more inviting to customers with disabilities, as well as their caretakers, family members and friends.”

"This is a group that most businesses have not addressed," May Snowden, Starbucks' vice president, global diversity, tells the Journal. "As I look at changes in demographics, it is one of the groups that are very important."

And company CEO Jim Donald tells the paper: “Customers tend to patronize a business that is like them.”

This is a lot more complicated that just being willing to hire and serve disabled people. The WSJ writes that the company is establishing an etiquette for a range of issues, like designing “its counters at a height that is easily reached by customers in wheelchairs, and the majority of its roughly 10,000 stores around the world have at least one handicapped-accessible entrance.”

And, it is incorporating disability etiquette into employee training, helping people understand how to best deal with disabled customers, and employees.

This is more than just altruism. The Journal notes that “people with disabilities have discretionary spending power of $220 billion annually, according to the American Association of People With Disabilities. Of the 70 million families in the U.S., more than 20 million have at least one member with a disability.”
KC's View:
One of the things that we respect about Starbucks is the way it seems to leap into these things whole-hog…it doesn’t just dip a toe in the water.

We think this kind of commitment speaks volumes to both consumers and employees, which only adds to the company’s mystique.