Starbucks Korea is leading the charge in hiring disabled workers

Starbucks Korea is ahead of the industry and the times with its policy to hire disabled workers and Kim Hyung Ho’s heartwarming story of success is just one example of its positive impact.

Starbucks Korea has been at the forefront of hiring disabled workers since they first launched their disabled barista hiring program in 2007. They have been working with the Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled since 2011 and have hired at least 50 disabled baristas every year since then. Most of the disabled baristas have hearing impairments, but they have not let their disability affect their work.

A Starbucks shop in Seoul.

Kim Kyung Ho is a supervisor at the Gimpo Janggi Starbucks, but his ascent to his position was a difficult one. He had to practice the simple greeting of “Welcome to Starbucks!” hundreds of times a day in order to communicate with customers better. His determination and will to succeed, however, allowed him to rise to the position of store supervisor within a year of working at that location.

“I enjoy brewing coffee, but what’s been even more enjoyable for me is talking to customers. Early on, there were a lot of misunderstandings when I couldn’t understand what the customer was saying, but over time I started to read their lips, their eyes, and expressions, and I was able to have conversations with them. Now there are regulars who speak slowly so I can understand or write things down on paper for me.”
– Kim Kyung Ho

Starbucks Korea has been very proactive in hiring disabled workers. While their 3% disabled employment rate may seem low, it is actually very high when compared to the overall average disabled employment rate across service positions, which is under 1%.

Starbucks Korea hopes to provide their employees with job security and help them to adapt to the working environment. With their disabled employee program, they have been able to help people who might otherwise have been discriminated against in another workplace.

Source: The Han