Michael is among 62 Station Support Representatives — a role tailored for neurodiverse hires — working at Chevron stations today.
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Chevron Stations Inc. (CSI) is committed to creating and maintaining a productive and inclusive work environment, one where perceptions of people are based on their abilities, not their disabilities.
A key piece of this commitment is the company's Neurodiverse Hiring Program, through which CSI works with nonprofit organizations to hire candidates with various neurodiverse situations or disabilities, such as Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other spectrum related conditions.
The program got its start in 2019 as the CSI Diversity and Inclusion Hiring Initiative, a neurodiversity employment pilot program that placed 10 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in positions at CSI stations in California's Central Coast region, including Santa Barbara. For the pilot, the retailer partnered with PathPoint, a nonprofit agency that supports people with developmental disabilities by helping them strengthen workplace abilities, build life skills and develop meaningful relationships. CSI developed the role of Station Support Representative (SSR), tailored for the neurodiverse hires.
The pilot was a success and in 2020, CSI's general manager approved the Neurodiverse Hiring Program to move forward and be represented across all CSI approved locations.
Since then, the retailer has sought out new agencies to support all its districts, and is now working with more than 10 nonprofit organizations that provide CSI with clients who are ready to join the workforce. Today, a total of 62 SSRs are working at stations throughout California, and the Seattle area was added recently. The program has been sanctioned by the Chevron Corp. Global Office of Diversity, and it's been recognized with multiple awards.
The program is ongoing with plans to continue staffing locations with SSRs. The retailer’s objective is to place SSRs at critically staffed locations, where support is needed. The overall goal of the program is to have neurodiverse hires represent 2 percent of CSI's Customer Service Representative workforce and help address current hiring challenges.
To learn more, Convenience Store News recently caught up with Julie Beltran, a training specialist for CSI's company-owned, company-operated (COCO) retail stations and one of two coordinators for the Neurodiverse Hiring Program.
CSN: What is the hiring process for the Neurodiverse Hiring Program?
Beltran: The nonprofit agencies have job developers who work with people with disabilities, teaching life skills and preparing their clients to enter the workforce. Once they have a client ready to work, they apply online for the SSR position. I meet with the selected business consultants and station managers to introduce them to the program, set up the interview, and then the hiring process begins.
CSN: What is the onboarding process for the new hires?
Beltran: Our Recruiting Team Lead created a job description, interview packet and hiring process that were all supported by our Human Resources Department. The Training Department then created Station Support Representative training materials, SSR Onboarding and SSR Annual Recertification, which is computer-based training that is taken when hired and annually.
CSN: Please explain the role of the Station Support Representatives in the stores.
Beltran: Responsibilities of the SSR include merchandising shelves, merchandising beverage areas, stocking vendor deliveries, general maintenance, cleaning fuel dispensers and restrooms, customer service, and other station support as needed with ongoing development support from CSI. The Station Support Representative is accompanied by a job coach from the Department of Rehabilitation to support them and provide guidance throughout their daily tasks.
CSN: How does the program benefit the Station Support Representatives?
Beltran: The program gives an opportunity for employment at a well-established corporation. We pride ourselves in providing quality fuel and convenience store offerings, and excellent customer service. We provide a safe place to work in a team environment. This program provides an opportunity to create independence and financial stability, and being part of the community can also help provide a sense of self-worth.
The SSR is hired as an employee of Chevron Stations Inc. and has all the same benefits, including up to 20 hours per weekly pay via direct deposit, vacation accrual for part-time employees, health and wellness benefits available for purchase, 401(k)/retirement savings plan eligibility, Educational Tuition Assistance Reimbursement, CSI Loyalty, and Service Anniversary Program. There is also an opportunity for promotion to a Customer Service Representative position.
CSN: How does the program benefit the Chevron organization and its workforce?
Beltran: Recently, we have implemented the program to our critically staffed locations and the retention rate of our SSRs is 86 percent. Six of the SSRs who were originally hired in 2019 just celebrated their four-year anniversaries. We have a need to keep our stores fully staffed and the SSR position has provided support for our everyday tasks. SSRs have proven to be reliable, consistent and valuable contributors to our workforce. And it gives our employees the opportunity to work in a diverse and inclusive environment.
CSN: What does this program mean to you personally?
Beltran: In 2019, the pilot was rolled out when my job responsibilities included overseeing stations in the Los Angeles and Ventura County areas. Two of the stores I managed became part of the Neurodiverse Hiring Program and four Station Support Representatives were hired in my territory [those celebrating their four-year anniversaries]. During the pilot, I attended training sessions provided by PathPoint to prepare myself and my employees on how to work, communicate and understand the diversity of disabilities.
This program means the world to me because I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life by providing a job at a company that cares about people. Our motto is "People First, Excellence Always." On this journey, it really opened my eyes to the need for employers to invest in hiring people with disabilities. The majority of our SSRs are on the spectrum and have Autism. I have learned that only 8 percent of people with disabilities have jobs. I value the opportunity to continue to mentor station employees by sharing the experience of working with someone who is disabled, giving back to the community, and creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.
When I check in with the managers, they share their experiences with me. Some examples include: "Julio is the best employee I have working here, he works harder than anyone;" "Alan is my right-hand man, I don't know if I could work without him;" and "Samantha always greets the customers with a smile!" Five of our SSRs recently received the Employee of the Month award. I stopped into the Santa Barbara station to congratulate our SSR Philip on his four-year anniversary and he said he loves his job and loves to come to work.
Convenience Store News — with underwriting support from Altria Group Distribution Co., The Coca-Cola Co., The Hershey Co., WorkJam and Constellation Brands — has launched an industrywide initiative to facilitate engagement among all stakeholders in the convenience channel around diversity, equity and inclusion. This platform is designed to be a catalyst for discussion, innovation, engagement and action.
The Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion program is part of The Convenience Inclusion Initiative, a multifaceted effort by Convenience Store News to champion a modern-day convenience store industry where current and emerging leaders foster an inclusive work culture that celebrates differences, allows team members to bring their whole selves to work, and enables companies to benefit from diversity of thought and background.