Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Verizon and the Family Justice Center Institute - Everyone Wins!

Right now I am in San Diego at the International Family Justice Center Conference. And what, you may wonder, is a Family Justice Center? And why would a big company like Verizon care about one?

How many places do you suppose a person who is a victim of domestic violence has to go to get help for themselves? For their children? Well, in San Diego they asked and found out 32 -- 32 places! That is too many places -- especially for a person who is not safe.

And so they created a Family Justice Center -- one place where a person could go and get the services needed -- medical, advocacy, food, clothing, job training, legal, etc -- all in one place. What an idea!

I have been privileged to serve on the President's Family Justice Center Initiative as 15 model Family Justice Centers were formed across the US through grants from the Office on Violence Against Women. And now there are Family Justice Centers across the US -- and around the world. And now I am privileged to serve on the National Advisory Board for the National Family Justice Center Alliance.

And now, throughout the U.S., survivors of domestic violence and their children will receive new and more effective services -- thanks to a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation to the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The grant, announced on April 4, establishes the Family Justice Center Institute, a technology and training arm within the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The center will use technology and best practices to streamline service and provide training for employees and volunteers.

The grant will be used to develop systems that:
1) Allow multiple agencies within a Family Justice Center to quickly and securely share information - so that victims will have to tell their story only once, rather than repeatedly conveying their traumatic experiences to various social, medical, legal and public safety professionals.
2) Create protocols for the development of electronic "safety deposit boxes" - helping domestic violence survivors to keep important documents secure.
3) Develop online training for Family Justice Center employees and volunteers nationwide - enabling them to share information, attend online courses and learn best practices.
4) Link the management systems of five pilot Family Justice Centers - creating consistency and information-sharing models among these centers, which will be selected during the grant period.
5) Assess technology needs - to evaluate practical uses of online client resources, text messaging and video messaging to support Family Justice Center employees and clients.

Verizon has been a longtime supporter of Family Justice Centers across the country, beginning with a Verizon Wireless HopeLine grant to the San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002. Raising awareness of domestic violence and aiding in its prevention is a key focus of the Verizon Foundation. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $5.5 million in grants to aid in domestic violence prevention.

Isn't that perfect? A company using what it does best -- technology -- to help keep families safe and to help make communities better!

And think of this -- Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless employ a combined approximate 250,000 people across the US. Now -- if 21% of those are victims of domestic violence (as full-time employed adults, using the results of the national survey that the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence did in 2005) -- where are those people going to go if they need help? To services in 32 places? Wouldn't it make much more sense for those employees and their families to go to Family Justice Centers where they are safe and get access to services in one location? That is a great investment of resources -- not only for Verizon employees, but for everyone in a community.

For more information about the Family Justice Center model and the National Family Justice Center Alliance, visit

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland Signs Executive Order Instituting Domestic Violence Policy For State Agencies

A new executive order from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland gives state agencies almost 14 months to comply with a new policy aimed at reducing and handling domestic violence in the workplace.

On April 17, 2008 Governor Strickland signed an executive order that creates the Barbara Warner Workplace Domestic Violence Policy, named after an Ohio Department of Health employee who was a victim of domestic violence and later killed in 1997 by her husband. The order also creates a state committee comprising representatives from several agencies and sets a July 1, 2009, deadline for state agencies to have enacted the policy.

A growing domestic violence problem outside the home was behind the governor's decision to sign the executive order. “Domestic violence in and outside of the workplace has become increasingly prevalent," Strickland said in a statement. "As an employer, the state must foster a safe working environment for all employees and provide the resources necessary to assist a worker who may be the victim of a domestic violence situation."

Under the new policy, state agencies are required to post a list of resources for workers, change personnel policies if needed, adjust workers' duties or assignments when domestic-violence issues arise, grant leave requests for victims and take action against workers identified as perpetrators. Actions can include contacting law enforcement and firing the employee.

Agencies also are barred from disciplining or discriminating against employees deemed domestic abuse victims or survivors for acts resulting from a domestic-abuse situation, or disclosing information to other workers beyond the extent necessary.

Obviously, the state of Ohio has determined what many companies and employers know, that domestic violence is an issue that impacts the workplace in terms of absenteeism, healthcare, productivity, turnover, and workplace safety -- and that an enlightened and proactive employer can do something to limit these impacts.

If you are not the state of Ohio and wonder what you can do, check out our CAEPV website for "six steps" to create a workplace program and a sample policy at

And if you are not convinced about the potential costs to business, check out our extensive list of sourced stats at -- if there is something to do with domestic violence and the workplace and it is updated and well-sourced, you will find it there!

Congratulations to Governor Strickland -- and may the State of Ohio's policy honoring Barbara Warner help to prevent the loss of future lives.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

SafeWork 2010 - Three More CEOs Sign On Pledging To Address Domestic Violence As A Workplace Issue

SafeWork Pledge: I am committed to addressing the issue of domestic violence in the workplace I recognize that domestic violence impacts my employees, my company and my business. Therefore, I pledge to take action, lead change, and raise awareness as a member of SafeWork 2010.

Congratulations to Jens Bang, CEO of Cone, LLC, Steve Jacaruso, CEO of Le Sportsac and Mary Ann Scully, President and CEO of Howard Bank in Maryland.

Why am I congratulating them?

Because they all recently signed the pledge you see above -- a pledge to take action, lead change, and raise awareness of domestic violence as a workplace issue.

They join the following CEOs that have already signed the Pledge:

Thomas J. Wilson, Allstate Insurance Company*
Louis C. Camilleri, Altria Group, Inc.*
Andrea Jung, Avon Products, Inc.*
Andrea Wong, Lifetime Entertainment Services*
William McComb, Liz Claiborne Inc.*
David B. Holl, Mary Kay Inc.*
Andrew R. Urban, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
Dr. Robert Pearl, The Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente*
Emanuel Chirico, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation
Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless*

*CAEPV Member Company

There is no financial commitment for signing the SafeWork pledge and becoming a member of SafeWork 2010. And those who do receive an awesome CEO Action Kit created by Safe Horizon with the assistance of CAEPV – and provided through the generous support of The Allstate Foundation. What could be simpler?

Companies can choose to act on the pledge in a way that works best for them, but the CEO Kit even provides SafeWork 2010 Action Steps to help! Some of the Action Steps are joining the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (, strengthening workplace policies that address domestic violence, hosting education and training sessions, and distributing educational materials about domestic violence to employees.

We hope to see 200 companies on this list by 2010! If you would like to join us, contact Melissa Madzel at

Maybe we will see your CEOs name on this list!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Upper Iowa University Women Rock!

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with some wonderful college women at a Women's Leadership Week at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa. Not only were the young women and the young men I met awesome, but I found out where Fayette, Iowa was :) Thanks to Beta Theta Omega Sorority for asking me to come!

The presentation was about "Independent Women" and women's leadership -- and hopefully I gave them some insights. I was also able to share about the really wonderful work that CAEPV member companies do to address domestic violence as a workplace issue, and how I have the opportunity, every day, to see the very best of "Corporate America" as the people I work with in these great companies go about the business of protecting and sometimes saving the lives of their employees. Just think -- if these young women leave UIU understanding that there are companies committed to addressing domestic violence as a workplace issue, they will be more aware of these policies and programs as they seek careers and will perhaps be catalysts for these programs in their places of employment in the future. That is very exciting to me.

And as always, I can never leave a presentation without talking about healthy relationships and how to talk with someone you care about if you are concerned for a friend or loved one. I just feel like it is so important -- no matter what topic I'm given to speak about.

So -- I get to the end of the presentation and say "Now for something completely different. . " and talk to them about something I know they will use as much as all the other "tips" I've given them -- how do you ask someone you care about if they are in a relationship that may be abusive or unhealthy? This is what I shared:

"You know I really care about you, and you are important to me. I've been noticing you are not yourself lately (note warning signs here) and I am concerned about you. I would rather have you mad at me than anything bad ever happen to you, so I just want to ask you – are you safe in your relationship?"

What was interesting to me was while I was somewhat "off topic" in bringing this subject up, I could see from the faces in the room that it clearly resonanted with them. They had experience. They knew about this -- and they needed to know what to say.

I am never sure about adding that to presentations -- but last week I was sure. And I will never forget the women's leadership conference I was at when I talked about this issue with women leaders from all over the US. When I was done, a very successful executive woman stood up and said, "In case you think this does not happen to women like us, I want you to know this happened to me in my first marriage."

And then people kept sharing. It was amazing. And a reminder that it happens to everyone and anyone and it is important to tell our daughters and sons and friends and co-workers about what to look for and what to ask.

So thanks, women of UIU, for giving me the opportunity! And although I hope you never have to ask, I know that you probably will.