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Best Buy: Powering Inclusion and Retention through Training

Employer Case Study: Learn how specialized training for managers and staff helped employees and customers on the autism spectrum feel welcome and included.

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Best Buy

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Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Richfield, MN, Best Buy's company's mission is to be a "growth company focused on better solving the unmet needs of our customers — and we rely on our employees to solve those puzzles.” 

The company started as a stand-alone Sound of Music (now known as Best Buy) store in Roseville, MN and has grown to nearly 1,200 stores in the U.S. and globally and several subsidiary brands. Best Buy attracts employees and customers of all types and from very diverse backgrounds. One of its leading company goals is to make Best Buy “a great place to work by having fun while being the best.” The company's diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) efforts are a cornerstone of the company's commitment to creating a more inclusive future, both inside the company and in the communities where Best Buy operates.

Individuals on the autism spectrum may find it challenging to get hired and also retain jobs due to social differences or other factors. After hearing from multiple retail employees that training was needed to ensure Best Buy employees with autism felt fully included, the company's management contacted members of its autism-focused affinity group, FACE (Facing Autism in a Caring Environment), for assistance. In January 2011, FACE partnered with the Autism Society of Minnesota and members of Best Buy's corporate training team to develop a comprehensive eLearning course to educate employees on ways to ensure autistic employees and customers feel welcomed and included.

Both Best Buy retail and corporate staff served on the eLearning development team, including cashiers, finance team members and services agents. The co-chair of Best Buy's disability affinity group, INCLUDE, and two eLearning developers also served on the team. The team developed an eLearning software application at a cost of approximately $10,000.

Best Buy management felt this initiative yielded a tremendous return on investment. The majority of employees who completed the eLearning module commented that they now “get it” and have learned to recognize certain behaviors that coworkers or customers may exhibit as part of being on the autism spectrum and work with them more effectively. It is also one of the highest-rated eLearning courses among the thousands offered through Best Buy’s Learning Lounge program. 

As a result of this success, Best Buy packaged the eLearning module and made it customizable, and it is now available through the Autism Society of Minnesota to any organization who is interested in using it. For Best Buy, the lesson learned is that when you educate and create awareness, you dispel myths and therefore lessen fears and stigma.