Word Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ is one of only nine businesses nationwide to receive the inaugural Best in Business award from the Ruderman Family Foundation, recognizing businesses that have shown exemplary practices in hiring, training and supporting people with disabilities.
The Foundation, in partnership with The Jewish Week Media Group, announced the recipients of earlier this month. Both large corporations and small family owned businesses located in North America were eligible for the award.
Words is well known locally for its philosophy of opening its doors to all — particularly to the autism community — and now that reputation is spreading wider.
“Our philosophy of job crafting, initially created to provide jobs that meet the skills and interests of our autism employees and trainees, has been adapted to apply to all of our employees,” said owner Jonah Zimiles, who explained further, “Inclusion means welcoming and inviting individuals with special needs to participate in our community to the fullest extent of their abilities and interests.”
Other businesses awarded the Best in Business recognition include larger entities like the Long Island Marriott Hotel (Long Island, New York), Publix Super Markets (Sunrise, Florida), Wegmans (Columbia, Maryland). Small business awardees included BagelToons (Detroit, Michigan) and the Rising Tide Carwash (Parkland, Florida).
Other winners include Megleen Inc. (Scarborough, Ontario), Green Distribution (Secaucus, New Jersey), ULTRA Testing (New York, New York), and Accessibility Partners (Silver Spring, Maryland).
“Everyone has a fundamental right to be included in our society and the best way to achieve full inclusion is through meaningful employment,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “What these Ruderman Best in Business winners understand is that inclusion is good for the bottom line. Not only are they providing the path to full inclusion for people with disabilities, but they are gaining loyal dedicated employees who change the environment of their workplaces, so all employees feel good about their places of employment. These businesses are leading by example and we believe that their example will inspire other business owners to make their workforces more inclusive for people with disabilities.”
Each of the businesses demonstrated a history of employing people with disabilities, training and supporting them and developing innovative approaches to maximizing employee’s abilities. A panel of seven experts selected the winners from among the many nominations that were submitted online.
“The Jewish Week is proud to partner with the Ruderman Family Foundation, which has led the way in advocating for those with disabilities, giving voice to those who often go unheard, and challenging all of us to be more aware of and sensitive to those who may need our help,” said Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week Media Group.
Currently in the U.S., the unemployment rate of adults with disabilities hovers between seventy to eighty percent. The goal of the campaign is to shine a spotlight on these businesses and show that an inclusive workplace is good for an employer’s bottom line. Gaining a competitive edge means employing the best people available. The Foundation calls on all employers to open their doors to workers of all abilities in order to create a more fair and flourishing society.
To learn more about the campaign and the ten winners, visit here.
For more information on the Ruderman Family Foundation, visit: www.rudermanfoundation.org