Valuable 500: Milestone for companies helping those with disabilities

At Bancroft, we have seen the potential in those living with developmental disabilities for over 135 years. We, as an organization, have witnessed what can happen to whole families, and even entire communities, when those with disabilities are empowered to live their best lives.

But we are just one organization, in just one corner of the world. That is why I am so proud and grateful to hear that the Valuable 500 has welcomed its 500th member.

The Valuable 500 comprises 500 multinational, private-sector companies that are dedicated to “putting disability on the business leadership agenda” and creating a global, positive impact on those living with disabilities. It is made up of 20 million employees in 36 countries and was formed at the 2019 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland in an effort to improve lives. It includes a number of New Jersey-based companies (Johnson & Johnson, Public Service Enterprise Group and Unilever) and a number of companies with a strong presence in the state.

As we speak, members of the Valuable 500 are developing adaptive products, focusing on engagement and communication, and creating job opportunities and improved workplaces for those with disabilities.

This is a big deal. The impacts are far-reaching and the potential that will be unlocked cannot be underestimated.

For organizations like Bancroft, the Valuable 500 shines a big, bright light on those we support in the best way possible. And it says to the world — in a louder voice than we could ever have — “inclusion matters.” It speaks to the benefits of collaboration between companies from across the world, and those in our own backyard, like Comcast and Johnson & Johnson, that are part of the initiative.

At Bancroft, the people we support need the business community; the 3,000 people who come to work each day to make lives better for those with autism and developmental and intellectual disabilities need their support as well. And the families we partner with need to know that there are voices out there much louder than theirs who are taking what was once only imagined and making it a reality.

We hear about when companies on the global stage make mistakes, fail to protect their customers or do the wrong thing. We need to acknowledge when they get it right — and reaching for the stars in a collaborative effort to improve people’s lives is always the right thing to do.

There is no other way to make tangible change than to have everyone working together to better the lives of those in our world and help to make “One world. For everyone.”

Toni Pergolin serves as CEO and president of Bancroft, one of the largest human services providers in New Jersey.