When Irene Pérez found out she'd gotten a blue badge job at an Amazon site in Zaragoza, Spain, she cried with joy. “It was the best day of my life!” she recalled.

For Anxo Blas, an Amazon employee at another site, joining the company was a "dream come true."

Earlier this year, I shared progress on our 2021 work. And over the past several months, I've worked to get a better understanding of what diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) means to Amazonians and what work would be most impactful to our teams. Like many of you, I’ve also spent time reflecting on the many things going on in the world and the tenacity it will take from all of us to make Amazon more inclusive than our world outside.

Pérez and Blas joined Amazon as a result of two Amazing Amazonians’ vision to hire associates living with Down syndrome and learning difficulties for the first time.

For Christianne Ester and Rosa Gedeon, the best thing about working at Amazon is the freedom to think big: "For us," Ester said, "the goal is changing lives."

That's exactly what they did when they came together in May 2022. Gedeon, an HR business partner for Amazon Logistics Spain, worked with site leader Ester from an Amazon site in Vigo, Spain, to write a document outlining their idea. They worked with a local organization to identify the right candidates for jobs.

In Europe, less than 5% of those living with Down syndrome or related learning difficulties are able to find employment. The number is higher in the U.S., though only about 3% have full-time jobs.

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"Many people think that those of us with disabilities are incapacitated. We're not,” Pérez said. “Being here now at Amazon, I'm proof of that."

With 16 people working in Spain, Gedeon and Ester's program is now set to launch in more countries, Ester said. "The program has had such an impact worldwide and we've now been asked to support the program in other countries. I hope we will keep achieving our goal."

Next, learn how Amazon builds diversity, equity, and inclusion into its culture.