Dec. 09 2015

Six NYC Businesses Win Age Smart Employer Award for Outstanding Workplace Practices

Brooks Brothers, NYU Langone Medical Center and Amy’s Bread among those honored for policies and practices to hire, retain and engage workers of all ages

The winners of the 2015 Age Smart Employer Awards were announced today at a ceremony attended by experts in aging and employment, elected officials and a diverse set of New York City businesses and their employees. The six winners plus five finalists were chosen from among 52 applicants for their policies and practices which encourage different generations to work productively and effectively side by side. Winners, their best practices, and the representative accepting the award, are:
•    Amy’s Bread, a bread and pastry bakery with 250+ daily wholesale customers, has an explicit focus on retaining older workers who brought stability as the business grew, restructures physically demanding jobs and uses older workers to train younger ones—Amy Scherber, Owner.
•    Brooks Brothers, LIC Factory & Alterations Center, which manufactures 1.5 million ties a year for this world-renown clothing retailer, has an average employee age of 54. Management consults with older workers on equipment and process design, restructures assignments, and offers unusual flexibility for a factory setting—Luis Nava, Director of Operations.
•    Eneslow Pedorthic Enterprises, a footwear company in Manhattan, focuses on older workers in its hiring practices, emphasizes skills training and cross-training, and allows workers to “dial up or dial down” hours as they near retirement—Robert Schwartz, Owner.
•    Metro Optics Eyewear, a Bronx ophthalmic services company, with a strong commitment to hiring, training, promoting and retaining workers from the neighborhood and a culture of flexible work arrangements, mentoring, and reimbursing costs for optician certification and licensing—John Bonizio, Owner.
•    NYU Langone Medical Center, a national premier medical center in Manhattan, recruits “mature” candidates, offers extensive training opportunities, a retiree option to be an in-house temp pool, and innovative benefits—Nancy Sanchez, Sr. Vice President and Vice Dean, Human Resources and Organizational Development and Learning.
•    Sunnyside Community Services, a community-based organization in Queens serving 14,000 people annually, identifies people with career advancement potential and offers access to career ladders within the agency—Judy Zangwill, Executive Director.

The Age Smart Employer Awards recognize and honor the forward-thinking leadership of these businesses and provide resources and support to encourage others to follow. People are living longer and working longer all over the world. In New York City, the workforce includes almost 700,000 adults ages 55 and older, or 18 percent of the total workforce. The awards are led by the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“Older workers are a growing resource and businesses are looking for ways to capitalize on their energy and talent. These Age Smart Employers are ahead of the curve in recognizing their skills and experience,” said Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, presenting the awards as director of the Age Smart Employer Awards program and associate director of the Columbia Aging Center. “These employers are a model for other businesses; they show how using practical, flexible, and responsive policies and practices can realize the benefits of an aging workforce.”

“Many older persons wish to stay in the workforce, or re-enter it, and this can be important in improving physical, mental, and emotional health, while keeping people engaged in their community. I applaud the visionary employers we are honoring this year who recognize the win-win of having policies and practices that support older workers in the workplace as it is a critical part of making New York an Age-friendly city," said Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, president of The New York Academy of Medicine.

In accepting the award, the owners and representatives from the winning businesses stated:

"Winning this award is an honor for our company. At Brooks Brothers, our people are our greatest assets, and It is meaningful to be recognized for the effort that we put into fostering and retaining their experience,” said Luis Nava, Director of Operations of Brooks Brothers, LIC Factory & Alterations Center. “Being age smart means more productivity, reduced recruiting and training costs and an ultimately a further commitment to quality for our customers."

“We are pleased and honored to win the Age Smart Employer Award, because we really value the contributions made by the older employees at Amy’s Bread,” said Amy Scherber, owner of Amy’s Bread. “They take pride in their work, they have a great deal of experience and knowledge that they share with co-workers, and they are responsible. When I started my company at age 32, I never thought about aging, but as the years have gone by, many of my staff and I have grown up together, and we have a great deal of respect for each other. I feel very proud to be recognized for this, and to be able to provide a great place for older people to work.”

“We are honored to accept the Age Smart Employer Award on behalf of the entire Eneslow family,” said Robert Schwartz, owner of Eneslow Pedorthic Enterprises. “Without the career professionals we would not still be in business. We appreciate the skills and dedication of each and every Eneslow staff member who add value to our enterprise and customers. Age is only a concept. We embrace the youthfulness and maturity that helps make Eneslow an age smart employer.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer delivered remarks at the awards ceremony and urge employers citywide to follow winners’ examples and integrate age into workforce diversity and work-life policies. Stringer, who has worked throughout his career on building a robust, inclusive economic and work culture, stated: “The Age Smart award winners truly reflect the diversity of New York’s economy. Making our workplaces welcoming to people of all ages and backgrounds is good for employers, employees, and our economy as a whole and I thank these businesses and non-profits for leading by example.”

Additional finalists for the award who were also honored at today’s ceremony are:

•    Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen—restaurant and caterer with remarkable employee retention, shift flexibility and offers a retirement plan, a rarity in food service industry.
•    CBRE—world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment company, which offers a wellness program, flexibility and mentoring.
•    Indiana Market & Catering—high-end special events catering company employing innovative peer-to-peer voting system to retain and motivate workers.
•    North Bronx Healthcare Network—provides high-quality healthcare, regardless of ability to pay, and is recognized for its employee benefits, phased retirement program and recruitment of older volunteers
•    VISIONS—a nonprofit that promotes independence of people who are blind through training, programs and support for caregivers, recognized for hiring retired therapists and flexible hours and schedules.