This is an article first posted on Holistic in 2022
Holistic met Martha Kendler this past spring when we worked with her to create and co-facilitate a Neurodiversity Allyship training for CircleCI. We recently had the chance to interview and learn more from her about her accomplishments, and contributions to the DEI space. Thanks so much for chatting with us Martha!
What does your professional background look like?
Before I go into my professional background, I think it’s worth mentioning that I grew up in a family with twelve children and was especially close to my sister Becca who has cognitive disabilities. My relationship with her makes me see myself as a people connector above all else and is both the inspiration and foundation for my business accomplishments.
I run a company, Product Accessibility LLC, that allows me to help business leaders reach more employees and customers through increased accessibility and inclusion. I’m a Certified Professional of Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). My work involves building business cases and securing executive buy-ins on plans to launch successful disability inclusion and awareness programs, digital accessibility projects, and ways to enrich employee culture while enhancing business outcomes.
Before I began my own company, I was a senior market leader of a Fortune™ 100 company and was also an impact leader for their 400 member Disability Alliance Employee Resource Group, where we earned annual recognition as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.
How have your past career experiences informed how you think about DEI?
I’ve been lucky enough to work for employers who were always driven to prioritize fair treatment and availability of opportunities for their employees and clients.
When I focus on universal accessibility within my own work, I know that it is only one component in the grander scheme of DEI work. But defining and delivering DEI is a highly personal process! I know that by sharing my own story, I become more relatable and am able to build trust within the business community. We still have a long way to go, but the business world has made great strides in seeing the value of personal experiences.
Tell us a bit about how you define diversity, equity, and inclusion. What’s your philosophy?
DEI work is all about inclusion, and Product Accessibility LLC works with consumer product and service businesses to reach everyone in their target market through universal design and accessibility. Universally accessible products and services improve the way things are done and what can be achieved.
Specifically in this past year I’ve invested in DEI culture, accommodations, and leadership skills by educating myself on neurodiversity in the workplace. I’ve completed coursework, networked with neurodiverse professionals, and overall gained a better understanding of the offerings of local service providers. It is important to remember that DEI is an ongoing process, not a task to complete.
What is the most challenging aspect of facilitating?
The greatest challenge of facilitating lies in the preparation process. Disability Education and Training isn’t a one-size fits all for any group. It requires me to prepare for a variety of environments.
What is the most rewarding aspect of facilitating?
Maintaining engagement can be challenging in a world that is as fast paced as ours, but the greatest reward lies in the moment when a person discloses their personal connection to an individual with a disability. It’s the moment when sentiments of trust become tangible and say to the person that they feel comfortable in their presence. It might be the first time they’ve ever felt that comfortable disclosing such information, and it’s always special.
What is your favorite part of facilitating?
I love working as part of a team interested in disability inclusion! I’ve gotten to do client work alongside Lisa Alvarado and Gillian Peña this year (check out our selfie below!)
And lastly, what do you do for fun? What are some of your passions outside of work?
My family just skied Big Sky, Montana this year! I have three children and love the outdoors.
JULY 1, 2022COMMENT