Friday, December 2, 2022

After ‘greeter’ role change, local advocate hopes Walmart can keep disabled workers engaged

Those who have shopped at a Walmart may have noticed the employees at the entrance greeting everyone.

Those are Walmart’s “people greeters,” and as part of a 2016 initiative from the company, the greeter role is changing to one with more responsibilities.

The change could negatively affect people with disabilities, who make up a large portion of the greeter position, according to a local advocate for the disabled.

“People with disabilities in our local communities really cherish the opportunities they have and really want to work,” said Keltie Klijanowicz, who is the marketing manager of VersAbility Resources. “Part of our mission is to help them maintain those opportunities.”

VersAbility “supports people with disabilities in leading productive and fulfilling lives,” according to the mission statement on their website. They have offices in Hampton and Norfolk.

Klijanowicz said 28 percent of people with disabilities are employed, and many of them are willing and able to work.

As the largest employer in the country, Walmart represents a beacon of hope for some disabled people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

“People with disabilities want to work, and a lot of times, that (Walmart) may be their only choice of employment, that’s the only place they can go,” Klijanowicz said.

Those people with disabilities working as Walmart greeters hope to have their role “reinvented” into new opportunities within the company, Klijanowicz said.

She wasn’t the only advocate with that concern.

After Walmart’s decision “created some conversation both externally and internally,” the company’s CEO Greg Foran released a memo Thursday ensuring people that Walmart wasn’t abandoning their disabled employees.

“We are looking into each one on an individual basis with the goal of offering appropriate accommodations that will enable these associates to continue in other roles with their store,” Foran wrote in a memo.

Foran said since announcing the changes to the greeter role, the company has already made job offers to employees who are disabled.

“We expect this will continue to be the case for many more across the country over the coming weeks,” Foran said.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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