Announcing The Second Ruderman “Best in Business” Award: Recognizing Companies That Hire People With Disabilities
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Announcing The Second Ruderman “Best in Business” Award: Recognizing Companies That Hire People With Disabilities

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer directs Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion which fosters inclusion of people with disabilities through the Philadelphia Jewish community. She loves writing/editing for “The New Normal” and for WHYY’s newsworks. Her latest book The Little Gate Crasher is a memoir of her Great-Uncle Mace Bugen, a self-made millionaire and celebrity selfie-artist who was 43 inches tall and was chosen for this year’s Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month Book Selections. She’s recently shared an ELI Talk on Standing With Families Raising Kids With Disabilities and has released a journal designed for special needs parents.

Last spring, the Ruderman Family Foundation partnered with the Jewish Week Media Group to produce its first Ruderman “Best in Business” supplementrecognizing exemplary businesses that have demonstrated a history of employing people with disabilities, training and supporting them and developing innovative approaches to maximizing employee’s abilities. Ten businesses were selected through a national nomination and review process and were profiled in both a print and online supplement.

The companies ranged from local and independent, like Words bookstore in Maplewood, NJ, to large chains like Wegman's and Publix grocery stores. They included high tech firms and a cartooning collective. One of the winning companies, Rising Tide Car wash, which was created to utilize the repetitive skills of people with autism, is going on to train other companies on how to hire, train and support people with disabilities.

Since the supplement launched last spring, there have been more stories trending about companies that support employees with disabilities. The Starbucks "dancing barista" who has autism appeared on the Ellen Show and went viral. The BBC recently released a documentary series called Employable Me, following people with disabilities in their job searches. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month (which takes place in October), the Employment #WithoutLimits social media campaign showcased people with every kind of disability working in a wide range of professions.

However, we know that there is still much work to be done. The unemployment rate for workers with disabilities is twice that of workers without disabilities. We need to change the perception that people with disabilities aren't competitive employees; we need to showcase the real examples of how hiring people with disabilities is good for a company's bottom line.

Building upon the success of our inaugural issue, we are now planning for the second Ruderman “Best In Business” supplement, featuring even more stories about the innovative companies across North America that are doing the important work of hiring, training and supporting people with disabilities.

We invite you to help us spread the word about our #BestBiz16 campaign. Share this blog on your social media, nominate a company that you know in your community.

To participate, please complete the online form with information about your business or a company that you know about with exemplary practices for people with disabilities. Click here to nominate a business today. Nominations will be accepted through May 25th.

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