Kaiser Permanente has Embraced Diversity Since its World War II Beginnings

Oct 25, 2012 8:45 AM ET

Kaiser Permanente has embraced diversity since its beginnings in the World War II shipyards, and the organization’s ranks have included many disabled individuals who made significant contributions despite their handicaps. Harold T. Willson, a wheelchair-bound Kaiser Permanente financial analyst, was one such person.

Willson, disabled in a 1948 mining accident, successfully lobbied leaders of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to make the high-speed train system accessible to the disabled.

BART, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was under construction in the early 1960s when Willson learned that the plans did not call for disabled access. He raised his objections and insisted on alterations. Willson’s quiet persistence made BART leaders stop and listen.

Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s long history regarding diversity on the History of Total Health Blog