When looking back over the past two years, our Bender story is one of perseverance and commitment.
I want to thank our customers who have stood by me and been strong partners, even during these tough times. They have proven that diversity does not have to take a back seat when times get tough. Instead, they have renewed their commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities and in some cases expanded that commitment.
I am so proud of my team who has proven, once again, their drive, ingenuity, and determination to support the mission of this company. They work every day to bring down barriers to opportunity for people with disabilities.
In 2022, as we continue to grow our talent programs and other services, we are focusing on the following:
Mental Health Awareness. This past year we tragically lost our beloved president, Mary Brougher, to a hiking accident. Losing Mary is the worst thing that ever happened to me. She was much more than an employee – in truth she was a sister to me. As many of you may be aware, Mary lived with mental health disability and was a strong advocate for mental health awareness. Throughout 2022, we will be working to raise awareness about mental health stigma.
Ending Ableism. In my opinion, ableism remains the top barrier to employment for the disability community. Ableism prevents people from recognizing the talents, skills, and competencies available in this community. Instead, a focus is put first on the disability, then the person. People with disabilities share in the same dreams and lifegoals as those without disabilities. Our products and services focus on breaking down these attitudinal barriers and replacing them with strategies for inclusion that focus on ‘no pity.’
Intersectionality with Disability. Equity and inclusion for people with disabilities is very important to me. It is a crusade I have dedicated my life to. However, I feel it is important for people to recognize that inclusion of people with disabilities means inclusion of everyone. Disability is a part of life for people from every community. For those who have a disability and also are a member of a community of color, the LGBTQ+ community, or another marginalized community, having a disability can feel like double-jeopardy. I have spoken about this often in the past, and it continues to remain an important goal of our organization.
Inclusion Innovation. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been forced to change – how we work, access essential goods and services, maintain relationships, and engage in recreational activities. We have shown that we can, when needed, give up the status quo for what is different and untried. Throughout this period, we have seen some things change what the future will look like by seeing the positive results of applied innovation. Throughout the coming year, we must look at how we can use this same approach to identify inventive solutions to inclusion of people with disabilities.
Based on current predictions, the coming year will continue to present new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, we are poised at Bender Consulting Services, to have another great year. I look forward to continuing our work with you in the coming months.