Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This is what South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster asked an audience full of business leaders at his domestic violence summit for the business community on October 25. It was co-sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
The Attorney General was not just giving a speech -- he meant it. He wanted to know what everyone in the audience was going to do about an issue that he believes is the number one crime issue in South Carolina -- and he wants the business community to join him in dealing with this issue. He wants business people to look at the business costs of domestic violence and to see how they can be proactive in addressing domestic violence -- and that was why I was there. I was there to talk to employers about how they can "do well by doing good" -- they can recognize domestic violence as an issue impacting their workplaces and employees, respond appropriately in the context of the workplace, and refer employees for assistance and services (and of course people can get information on our website at http://www.caepv.org/) . . .and fortunately we had wonderful service providers there with us from all over South Carolina.
But it was more than that. Attorney General McMaster wanted every person in the room to think personally about our response to domestic violence and we were personally going to respond. We heard from a wonderful young lady who shared her incredible story of courage and survival, and we heard from the AG about the dire statistics in South Carolina, and we heard from Verizon Wireless about the wonderful things they are doing as an employer. And then it was time for people to decide how they were going to step up.
So -- as October draws to a close, I guess it is time for all of us to ask ourselves the question that Attorney General McMaster asked everyone in that room in Columbia, South Carolina last week -- "What are YOU going to do about domestic violence?"
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Allstate Foundation Launches New Website to Provide Information and Resources to Survivors of Domestic Violence
The site is just one component of The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program, which provides comprehensive programming to energize, empower and equip domestic violence survivors with the resources, knowledge and skills they need to achieve safer and more financially secure lives.
Jennifer Kuhn, who is the program manager for the Foundation's Domestic Violence Program put it this way: “Financial control is an aspect of domestic violence that is frequently overlooked. Abusers frequently isolate their victims by controlling access to money and financial resources. Financial abuse can be more devastating than physical abuse in some situations. With our new Web site, www.EconEmpowerment.org, we provide critical resources and information to help survivors find financial independence free from abuse."
www.EconEmpowerment.org provides information on resources available to survivors, including:
Moving Ahead Through Money Management– The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program\'s financial empowerment curriculum – which includes financial tools and information that enable survivors of domestic abuse to (1) fully understand their financial circumstances, and (2) engage in short- and long-term planning to accomplish their personal goals. The curriculum provides:
Ways to locate and access local, state and national personal safety and financial resources;
Information on how to protect personal and financial safety in-crisis and post-crisis;
Strategies for dealing with the misuse of financial records; and
Tools to help people of all incomes and earning power work toward long-term economic empowerment.
The Allstate Foundation Education and Job Training Fund– A fund that channels small grants to adult domestic violence survivors to help them achieve their educational and professional goals. This covers education, training and job-related expenses including:
-Books and supplies for school;
-Job skills training;
-Certification and registration fees;
-Requirements for jobs, such as uniforms;
-Child care; and
Links to national and state-based domestic violence organizations – Each U.S. state & territory has a domestic violence state coalition that connects survivors and interested members of the public to resources, including shelters and emergency funding, in their local communities. Both national and state-based organizations also provide a wealth of information and tips for both survivors and others who wish to help.
www.EconEmpowerment.org contains links and key contact information for state and national organizations.The Web site also contains information for service providers, such as ways to enhance their organization’s financial empowerment services, and information on applying for grants. In addition, it offers information on volunteer opportunities through both local and national programs and organizations.
For additional information, visit http://www.allstate.com/foundation.
What I love about this is thinking "beyond" what people often think about with domestic violence -- and that is a person's financial situation in the long term. It is realizing that a person often needs financial tools and help to get the next level and to truly be independent. Heck -- I am honored to be a member of the Allstate Foundation National Advisory Board for their Domestic Violence Program, and in reviewing the financial literacy curriculum and all the tools and helps involved, I saw that I could really benefit from the information in the curriculum!!!!!
What Allstate is doing here makes a lot of sense -- it aligns with their business practices of making sure people are financially viable, and they are looking at an issue related to domestic violence that to date, not many are taking into consideration -- how to help build financial literacy and economic empowerment for people who are surviving abuse.
And I LOVE the idea of helping people with things like books, job training and certification, tuition, childcare, public transportation. . . the things that will really get them from Point A to Point B in life.
What a way to take what you do well in your book of business (financial stuff) and have it make a difference for victims and survivors of domestic violence!
Friday, October 12, 2007
On September 25, we released results of a new survey of employees of Fortune 1500 companies in conjunction with Liz Claiborne -- they released a parallel survey of Fortune 1500 top executives. We did this in partnership with Safe Horizon as we all worked together to launch SafeWork 2010 – a program to challenge CEOs to address domestic violence as a workplace issue. The idea is to get 200 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies to sign this pledge by 2010.
At any rate, in our parallel surveys, while we found that 26% of Fortune 1500 female employees were victims of domestic violence, and that 18% of all Fortune 1500 employees (male and female) identified themselves as such – guess how many victims the CEOs thought worked for them? (By the way this was very similar to the national survey CAEPV did in 2005 when we found that 21% of full time employed adults were victims of domestic violence.)
They guessed 6%.
At the same time, 90% of employees thought it was important for workplaces to have a program to train managers to recognize and respond to domestic violence as a workplace issue – while only 13% of CEOs thought that the workplace was really the place to do something about it.
Why the difference?
My guess is that employees and managers are “on the ground” and seeing these situations on a daily basis. They know that domestic violence is impacting the workplace – they know it is a productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, healthcare, and workplace safety issue. They are managing it.
But CEOs have a 30,000 foot view of things and they see the “broad strokes” – after all, that is their job. If someone does not tell them this is going on, how could they be aware of it?
One of the things we learned from the surveys is that if employees ask for it, CEOs say they are much more likely to make these kinds of programs happen.
SO – if you are an employee who wants this kind of program in your workplace, perhaps you can start the ball rolling by making your CEO aware of the impact domestic violence has in workplaces. You can find lots of information on that at www.caepv.org.
I wish the CEOs were right – I wish there were only 6% -- but since there are a lot more, we need to do everything we can to help make this issue “everybody’s business.”
Thursday, October 04, 2007
During the conference, the hosts invited those who were survivors of domestic violence to wear white roses that had been made available for them at the conference as a symbol of honor and freedom.
They did something else I thought was wonderful -- they invited anyone who had helped someone else in the workplace as a co-worker, boss, or manager to wear a gold heart in honor of that help. It was wonderful to see those gold hearts were gone in a flash!
If you are "wearing a gold heart" -- I congratulate and honor you! If you have reached out to someone in the workplace, if you have been part of developing a policy or program, if you have taken the time to recognize that a bruise may not just be a bruise, and too many office visits may not be benign, you are a "gold heart."
We need more people like you in workplaces -- and in the world!