When Robert James, Supplier Diversity Manager from Highmark, called and told me Bender Consulting was selected by Highmark as a Protégé in Governor Wolf’s newly launched Mentor Protégé program, I was thrilled. What a great honor to be selected as Protégé by the company that helped me found Bender Consulting Services. Launched by Governor Wolf, this program levels the playing field for diverse, small businesses in Pennsylvania as they compete for state contracts.
Governor Wolf shared, “We have a responsibility to ensure that opportunities to compete for state contracting are diverse, inclusive and fair. We have taken an aggressive and innovative approach to achieving that goal, and the Mentor-Protégé Program is another resource that we can now point to in those efforts.”
Only four companies in Pennsylvania were selected to be Mentors. Highmark Health was one of the four. I cannot think of a better company to act in the role of a Mentor than Highmark. Even more important to me, not many companies would choose a US Business Leadership Network certified disability-owned business enterprise (DOBE) as their Protégé. Bender Consulting intends to maximize this opportunity, serving as an example as to why diverse, small businesses should compete for state contracts.
On March 9th, I had the honor of being announced publicly in Harrisburg as Highmark’s Protégé and speaking to the audience. Robert James spoke about the commitment of Highmark Health, not only to small businesses, but diverse, small businesses. I felt so proud that Bender Consulting Services, Inc was selected as one of the first two companies to participate in this innovative and prestigious program, especially being selected by Highmark as a woman-owned business and DOBE. Participating in this program will equip Bender Consulting with the tools to compete for state contracts, which is a new market for Bender.
Bender has been very successful in the private sector and federal government nationwide, but we have had limited activity supporting state government. I believe this experience will give us the opportunity to impact the hiring of people with disabilities at the state level.
This is a great day for disability-owned businesses in Pennsylvania! Seeing Bender Consulting Services selected by Highmark as their protégé means the playing field is equal; diversity includes disability. You will see more small business owners with disabilities competing for state contracts.
As I said that day at the Capitol, this program demonstrates Governor Wolf believes diversity does include disability, and that makes me proud to say he is my Governor.