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About EARN

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers information and resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; build inclusive workplace cultures; and meet diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals. 

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Getting Started

Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities — and how EARN’s resources can help.

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    Phases of Employment

  • A man in a wheelchair looks at his phone while waiting for an interview


    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

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    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

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    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

  • Image of a woman illustrating how to perform a task to a man with down's syndrome.


    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

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Starbucks: Brewing Inclusion through Innovation

Employer Case Study: Learn why inclusion is a core value of Starbucks.

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Creating an inclusive culture is a core value of Starbucks, from both the workplace and marketplace perspective. The company is committed to ensuring that employees and customers with disabilities feel welcomed and have equal access to opportunities and services. 

Starbucks’ commitment to access and disability inclusion is an important part of its broader diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) efforts. These efforts include partnering with state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations to recruit and hire people with disabilities and providing training for all employees on disability-related topics, including workplace accommodations. Starbucks has also created a dedicated accessibility office at the corporate level and offers a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG). In addition, the company has established several “Signing Stores” staffed by employees who are deaf or hard of hearing and hearing employees who are trained in sign language.

Building Partnerships for Hiring and Training

Creating a culture where everyone is welcomed, respected and valued, and an environment that is accessible for all, are core values for Starbucks. As such, the company’s disability employment initiatives are woven into its broader DEIA, and infused into all aspects of the employment lifecycle. These initiatives include working with local nonprofit organizations and universities to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Further, Starbucks partners with state vocational rehabilitation and workforce development agencies to host “Inclusion Academies” that provide on-the-job training for people with disabilities in locations such Baltimore, MD and at the company’s York, PA and Minden, NV roasting plants and distribution centers. The company also conducts training for all new employees on disability inclusion topics, such as its service animal policy and the availability of accommodations and process for requesting them.

Accessibility Office

In 2017, the company reinforced its commitment to disability inclusion with the launch of an accessibility office within its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) programs team at the company’s Seattle, WA headquarters. This office, which includes employees with disabilities, works to improve Starbucks’ culture, hiring processes and infrastructure for people with disabilities and helps ensure accessibility of internal products, such as the company’s intranet and training platforms. It also supports Starbucks’ commitment to inclusion by assisting the company’s human resources office in providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

Disability-Focused ERG

Starbucks has a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG), called the Disability Advocacy Network (formerly the Access Alliance Partner Network), that supports employees with disabilities by fostering awareness and inclusion. Additionally, the group offers opportunities for Starbucks employees with disabilities to strengthen connections and share knowledge and creates forums for education, community and professional development.

Signing Stores

In 2016, Starbucks opened its first “Signing Store” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, staffed entirely by employees who are deaf or hard of hearing and hearing employees trained in sign language. The success of the Kuala Lumpur store led to the opening of five more Signing Stores in Penang, Malaysia; Guangzhou, China; London, England; Washington, D.C. and most recently in Tokyo, Japan. Starbucks partnered with local nonprofit organizations, such as the Penang Deaf Association and the Society of Interpreters for the Deaf, to provide training of the stores’ employees through internship opportunities and sign language classes. The Signing Stores are specially designed to meet the needs of employees and customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. They utilize technology such as visual alarms, digital trays and cash registers with customer displays to showcase how digital innovation enhances inclusive design. Signing Stores also add to Starbucks’ culture of awareness by featuring artwork by local artists who are deaf or hard of hearing.

These efforts have contributed to Starbucks receiving a 100 percent score on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN, an EARN partner, and being recognized as one of the “DEI Best Places to Work.”