Disability:IN, recognized as the most prestigious membership organization focused on corporations who want to include people with disabilities in the fabric of their workforce, is the only organization that certifies an entity as a Disability Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE), a Veteran Disability Owned Business Enterprise (V-DOBE) and a Service Disabled Veteran Disability Owed Business Enterprise (SDV-DOBE). This program and certification started nearly a decade ago; it has grown and is recognized nationally by Fortune 500 employers with global outreach.

Disability:IN has created a strong Disability Supplier Diversity Network; supplier diversity professionals who attend the national conference every year and are the decision makers in procurement. In 2018, there were over 1500 attendees at the conference with some of the largest employers in America. Corporate leaders in Supplier Diversity met with many of the DOBEs and provided them with information on the process to work with their corporation.

Certification by Disability:IN is very prestigious for companies owned by an entrepreneur with a disability and highly thought of in the business world. It is not a token easily given out by Disability:IN and has a set of rules and processes that must be evaluated by a Disability:IN leader.

Each business must be 51% owned, operated and managed by a person with a disability and cannot be reliant on another entity to be successful. There is a very stringent series of checks to ensure the integrity of the organization. When you receive this certification, you are listed by Disability:IN and all corporations have access to you.

As an entrepreneur and Certified Disability Owned Business Enterprise, I cannot emphasize the power of this corporate networking opportunity. It is a “gift” to many small business owners, one they would otherwise never have access to. The majority of Disability Owned businesses would not get past the gatekeeper of a Fortune 500 corporation or have the undivided attention of an executive in procurement.  The DOBE leader is meeting with companies from Microsoft to Wells Fargo and have the opportunity to introduce their company and market their services. Also, this program provides a great opportunity to network and learn from other DOBEs who attend the conference…who knows, maybe one of the DOBEs can find a customer who is a DOBE. Caption First, a DOBE, became a preferred vendor of Bender Consulting Services over 15 years ago. They caption my radio show, Disability Matters with Joyce Bender, and do a great job.

For businesses this is a great way to make the commitment to disability inclusion at the company. I have been approached by companies in the past who have wanted to include Bender in their list of subcontractors on a federal contract bid, for the purpose of ensuring that people with disabilities are included in any hiring as a result of being awarded the contract. One of the questions that federal contractors may be asked during focused reviews is if their organization has enlisted the assistance and support of local, state and national organizations in recruiting and developing ‘on the job’ training opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As a private recruitment resource that specializes in the hiring of people with disabilities, Bender Consulting Services fits the bill as an effective solution that federal contractors can engage in to show credible action in this area. Incorporating DOBEs into the supply chain also shows a commitment to working with a diverse group of subcontractors, furthering organizational commitment to disability inclusion.

Another way that businesses have engaged with Bender is to participate in internal or external programs designed to promote the use of DOBEs and strengthen partnerships with those organizations. Highmark selected  Bender Consulting Services for the Pennsylvania Mentor Protégé Program Governor Wolf launched in 2018. In addition, states like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and soon New York have set-asides for certified Disability Owned Business Enterprises; Disability:IN has made that happen.

A Disability Owned Business Enterprise, certified by Disability:IN, is a powerful tool for Corporate Supplier Diversity today. It demonstrates to the workforce, which includes people with disabilities, and to the external market, and federal compliance officers the commitment to people with disabilities as valuable business partners. It is just good business sense!

I would encourage all corporate leaders in supplier diversity to contact Disability:IN to find a DOBE with the expertise you are seeking and any business owner with a disability to reach out and find out how to become certified.

Make a commitment today whether you are a business or an entrepreneur to work with or become a Disability Owned Business Enterprise—it really is good business!

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Contact us if you would like to discuss how Bender Consulting Services can be a part of your company’s success with disability inclusion or review our services.

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