Gayatri Agnew on accessibility is more than compliance with the law

Industry leaders discuss business disability inclusion at the 2022 Disability:IN Conference

“I am very passionate about things that help people find opportunity through work. That’s what really drives me,” says Gayatri Agnew, senior director, head of Accessibility Center of Excellence at Walmart.

WorkingNation sat down with Agnew at 2022 Disability:IN Conference in Dallas.

She notes it’s important to ensure employees with disclosed or undisclosed disabilities feel comfortable at work. “In what ways can we go above and beyond? A very simple example of this is our recruiting materials to candidates. We used to expect candidates to proactively identify a need for accommodation, for example, in an interview – if they needed ASL in their interview.”

“Now in every email that a prospective employee receives, it proactively articulates, ‘If should you have a need for any kind of accommodation, please let us know. And we welcome you to come and work for our company.’”

Having a long history with Walmart, Agnew’s current role is fairly new. “It’s been an extraordinary learning opportunity. And I think the number one learning I’ve taken is that people are afraid across the board. People are afraid to understand ableism because it means, ‘I have perpetuated my ableism and pushed that on to somebody else.’”

“I’ve done that. Not intentionally, but I have done that. And I now understand that. I think, yes, not because we’re Walmart, but because for any employer, it’s a delicate conversation.”

Learn more about Walmart.
Watch more interviews from the Disability:IN conference.