Business in Focus: The Bazaar, Inc.

A closer look at companies executing leadership excellence

A little over one year ago this month, a young woman was hired to be a cashier at The Bazaar, Inc., a family-owned merchandising business in Chicago that has been around for three generations. When she walked in looking for a job, she seemed capable and bright and willing to work hard, and so she was extended an offer to come on board. She was thrilled—and so was her mother.

“On her first day of work, the two of them showed up,” wrote Brad Nardick, Bazaar’s CEO in an article for Fast Company.  “The young woman’s mother wanted to talk to me and the hiring manager personally, just to make sure her daughter had the proper supports in place in order to be successful at our company. Her daughter has autism.”

Hiring people with disabilities is not just a form of altruism at The Bazaar.  It’s part of the business model.  Here are a few tips that Nardick suggests for organizations that want to embrace differently-abled workers into their community.

  1. Start with where you have the highest turnover rate. At Bazaar, for example, turnover in their retail stores was over 75%. When they hired differently-abled people to work in the retail stores, however, both absentee and turnover rates improved dramatically.  The new hires actually outperformed other people who showed up to work every day bored and unhappy.
  2. Find local agencies you can partner with to source talent. The next step is to build relationships with agencies that help differently-abled individuals find jobs. There are hundreds of organizations nationwide, and they are always looking for companies with disability hiring programs to work with.  When you have a job opening, instead of going out to Indeed or Career Builder, reach out to these partnering organizations with the job opening and requirements and ask if they have anyone in their system who might fit the description.
  3. Create behavior-based job descriptions. Instead of the typical skills-based job descriptions, Nardick suggests creating ones that are built around behaviors. Instead of looking at a candidate’s customer services skills, for example, the hiring team finds out if the candidate is comfortable speaking with strangers about products and features. They developed a half-day observation program in which the candidate is placed in a variety of positions, then they talk to them about how they felt about the work.  Once placed, the new team members are paired with a behavioral therapist who checks in with the new hire on a regular basis.

By leveraging the differently-abled community, not only was The Bazaar able to solve business challenges, but it created a positive impact on the community.  Kudos to The Bazaar for modeling the intersection of purpose and profit.  To learn more about The Bazaar, click here.




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