Joyce Bender

Paychecks Not Pity™

It was nearly 30 years ago when I started Bender Consulting Services, Inc. I knew then that the company had the potential to make a difference in how businesses viewed hiring people with disabilities, but I never imagined just how far the company would grow from hiring six people our first year in business to supporting employers at the national level.

Having been working with people with disabilities to connect them to employment opportunities on a pro bono basis prior to starting Bender Consulting Services, I was already well acquainted with the qualities that this segment of the population brought to the table: loyalty, ability to think outside the box, and willingness to go the extra mile continue to be competencies that make some employees stand out from the general workforce, and these were the qualities I saw in the people I was working with. Having worked in employment throughout most of my career, I was astonished by some of the lengths that my employees were willing to go to in order to find and keep a job.

I had one employee whose powered wheelchair broke down on the way to work who called the police, not for assistance to get home, but for a stretcher to carry him into the building where he could work until his wheelchair was fixed. Another employee called us to inform us that he was ok after being hit by a car and not to worry because he would only miss one day of work. These are just two examples, but there are so many others.

I have had employees who have gone decades without using a sick day, employees who have shown up while on vacation, even during the holidays, to ensure projects that would impact the inclusion of people with disabilities were running smoothly. I have had so many hiring managers call me to share stories about how my employees have impacted their teams.

I share these stories when talking to new potential customers who are interested in engaging talent from the disability community to illustrate what studies are now beginning to show. People with disabilities have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Hiring people with disabilities isn’t just about doing the right thing; it is about return on investment. This is why I have the motto: Paychecks not Pity™.

To me, Paychecks not Pity™ is about giving people with disabilities an equal and fair opportunity at competitive career opportunities, not because you feel badly for them or pity them, but because they have the qualifications to do the job. As Tony Coelho, author of the ADA says, “I may fail, but at least I would have had the opportunity to succeed.” If a person does not perform well or does not meet expectations, then that person should face the same consequences that a person without a disability would face. However, in my experience, people with disabilities will take that opportunity and treasure it, nourish it, and demonstrate to you that they have earned the opportunity.

I tell people all the time when they ask why I am successful that I am successful because of my employees. It is the people with disabilities who we hire, whether directly or as consultants, who go to work and do a great job every day. Nearly 100% of the employers I work with will hire a second person with a disability after hiring through Bender. Why? Because our employees demonstrate what I have always known – people with disabilities don’t just want to work, they want to excel. A study conducted by Accenture found that people with disabilities are more aspirational than their non-disabled peers. The results of this study do not surprise me. I have seen first-hand what my employees are capable of. As a person with a disability, I know the motivation to prove yourself when given an opportunity – not just for myself but for others out there living with a disability who are still waiting for that chance.

If you are looking to fill a job and want to hire a great employee, you must include people with disabilities in your talent pool. Whether you are just getting started on disability inclusion or are looking to increase hiring in this area, contact us today to learn more about our talent programs.

If you are a person with a disability looking for a career opportunity, visit our career page to learn about our open jobs.