BY JANET MANDELSTAM
“There shouldn’t be an award for doing the right thing,” says Scott Wise, founder of Scotty’s Brewhouse.
Nonetheless, the Indianapolis-based company with restaurants in Bloomington and 18 other cities has been honored for its history of inclusive hiring and supporting people with disabilities.
The award, the Ruderman Best in Business Award from the Ruderman Family Foundation, recognizes “exemplary businesses in North America that have demonstrated a history of employing people with disabilities and developing innovative approaches to maximizing employees’ abilities.”
About 4 percent of Scotty’s 1,900 employees have disabilities, but Wise expects that number to grow to 10 percent by the end of 2017. The Bloomington Scotty’s, located at 302 N. Walnut, hired its first employee with a learning disability this year. He works in the kitchen, clears tables, and helps seat customers, says manager Scott Morris. “The staff has taken him under their wings,” he says. “This is good for our employees; it helps us grow as a team.”
Now the local restaurant is working with Stone Belt, a service provider for people with developmental disabilities, and earns kudos from John Hanlon, a job coach at Stone Belt. “They hired a client of mine to be a dishwasher and they put an effort into training him,” Hanlon says. He feels, that for Stone Belt clients, Scotty’s is an excellent place to seek employment.
When Scotty’s began its program of hiring people with disabilities, “I was worried about how our team and guests would accept this,” Wise says. Now, he notes, the staff stands behind the idea and the attrition rate among employees is way down. As for the guests? “We almost get business because of what we stand for.”
The new employees may be a little apprehensive at first. “We start them on easy tasks,” Wise says. Soon, however, they ask for more responsibility. “There are tears that we see when an employee with a dis- ability is given that first paycheck or told ‘you are hired!’ or even given their first uniform. They just need a chance.”