Special Guest Blog for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Sandy Moonert, North Carolina Program Director for Enable America

Intro from Stan C. Kimer: My first blog in October was focused on the connection between schoolyard bullying and workplace harassment (link), since October is Bullying Awareness Month. And since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a very key area in the diversity mix, I knew I also wanted to add focus on this in my blog.

I am very grateful to Sandy Moonert, who enthusiastically agreed to write about very important collaborative efforts around engaging people with disabilities in the work place. I first met Sandy when I worked with her on a half day session around the toughest areas of diversity – I covered LGBT and she superbly handled people with disabilities. I knew then she was a special person truly passionate about her work who I wanted to keep in touch with.

The Carolina Hurricanes 5th annual Enable America Mentoring Career Day

The Carolina Hurricanes 5th annual Enable America Mentoring Career Day

Costco of Durham's first Enable America Career Exploration Day

Costco of Durham’s first Enable America Career Exploration Day

Each year during the month of October, many diverse and inclusive employers celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an initiative of the Department of Labor-Office of Disability Employment Policy. At Enable America we partner with employers to host Career Mentoring Days, matching job seekers with disabilities to mentors who provide employment information, career coaching, and encouragement. The mentoring company and its employees are exposed to a talented pool of resources while the mentees or job seekers further their understanding of the industry, company and position which they are targeting. Building these bridges of knowledge and education is the mission of Enable America, an advocacy for increasing employment of persons with disabilities, wounded warriors and disabled veterans.

Enable America works with 24 employers across the State of North Carolina, including the Carolina Hurricanes of Raleigh and Costco of Durham (pictured above). This October the Carolina Hurricanes held their 5th annual Enable America Career Mentoring Day. Hurricanes employee Johnny Gill spent the day with Richard referred by the DHHS Division of Services for the Blind, providing a behind-the-scenes view of the hockey operation and career advice; as well as involving Richard in the planning of an upcoming Hurricanes promotion. Also in October, Costco of Durham held their first Enable America Career Exploration Day when General Manager Brian Minion and his staff hosted 20(!) job seekers referred by DHHS VR, Rainbow66Storehouse, Durham Veterans Administration, Becoming of Durham, Carolina Outreach, Community Partnerships, and Ft. Bragg WTB. Job seekers learned about Costco’s unique company benefits and position in the retail industry, as well as employment opportunities and process. Networking opportunities like the Hurricanes and Costco mentoring days give job seekers a competitive edge and can help accelerate their job search while expanding visions of what is possible, for both the job seeker and the employer. Thank you Carolina Hurricanes and Costco of Durham for your inclusive culture!

Enable America’s mission continues throughout the month of November when in addition to persons with disabilities, the nation recognizes National Disabled Veteran Employment Awareness month. Recruitment is underway for wounded warriors, disabled veterans and persons with disabilities to attend mentoring days offered by Enable America in partnership with Eaton Corporation, SAS, Lenovo and Duke Energy. For more information, visit www.EnableAmerica.org.


About Enable America: Established in 2002 by attorney Richard Salem, Enable America builds bridges between employers, social service agencies, and people with disabilities, including disabled veterans and wounded warriors, through programs that improve employment opportunities. The organization’s Community Connections, Business Connections, Employment Mentoring, Job Skills Workshops and VetConnect programs unite members of the disability community and business community to raise awareness and increase employment opportunities for the more than 56 million Americans with disabilities. Information and success stories can be found www.EnableAmerica.org.

A Special Blog for Bullying Awareness Month 2013 – Two Schoolyard / Workplace Scenarios

SCENARIO 1: Becky the Slut

Becky always seemed to grow fast for her age, and her breasts started to develop earlier than the rest of the girls in her class. One day, the junior high bully James gave her a little shove in the hallway and remarked, “Look at Becky and her tits! She’s a slut and a whore!” while a few of the other boys with James laughed. Becky went to her school’s guidance counselor in tears and told Mr. Williams what had happened. Mr. Williams simply told her, “Boys will be boys. Just ignore him. By the way, you don’t want everyone in the school to think you are a tattletale, do you?”

Bullying in schools if unaddressed will lead to workplace bullying and harassment

Bullying in schools if unaddressed will lead to workplace bullying and harassment

Fast forward 15 years. Becky is an attractive woman with a degree in accounting working in the Finance department of a large company. She is working late one evening when her boss calls her into his office and shuts the door. He stands very close to her, actually lightly touches her breasts and tells Becky that he really likes her and wants to give her a very good review at the end of the year. He makes it quite obvious what he is expecting from her in order for her to get that “good review.” Becky decides to not report this harassment, she always remembers what her junior high guidance counselor told her and she certainly does not what to get the reputation as the office squealer. She now dreads coming to work every day and her productivity has declined. In fact, it seems that in her office, a few other attractive women in the accounting department are distracted from their work, and the Human Resources department and the senior leadership are puzzled at the declining productivity and morale among the staff. They don’t have a clue.

SCENARIO TWO – Charles the Sissy

Charles was always a small for his age and not very good at athletics, but he excelled in music. The band director actually asked Charles to play a trumpet solo at the next class assembly at his junior high. The next day, a small group of bullies shoved Charles against the locker and the ringleader Robert laughed and said, “This is the little faggot that stays in his room all weekend playing his little trumpet and with dolls.” Charles did not know what to do, he was quite conflicted and did not want to be a “sissy tattletale.” But he went to the guidance counselor Mrs. Thomas and reported what happened. She told Charles that he did the right thing and was very brave to report it, since bullying is something that can damage a lot of people and has to be stopped. Later Mrs. Thomas met with Robert and his parents, enrolled Robert in an excellent three week anti-bullying class which included Robert addressing his own insecurity issues, and told his parents that if Robert was ever involved in another bullying incident, he would be expelled from the school permanently. Not wanting to have to fork out $15,000 per year to place Robert in a private school, his parents were quite stern with him when they got home.

Fast forward 15 years. Charles and Robert now work at the same company. When Charles’ boss mocked him for not participating on the office’s softball team, and asked him if he was a girl or a man, Charles reported it to the HR department. An investigation found that this manager had bullied a few other employees and hence fired. Robert (the former junior high bully) was promoted to be the new manager and he worked hard to make everyone on the team felt welcomed and valued for their individual contributions within the department. Productivity increased and at one department meeting, Robert even shared about the time he was once a bully in junior high, but how he went to special class where he learned that treating everyone with respect leads to better relationships and a better life for everyone.

SUMMARY: Corporations should care about and support anti-bullying campaigns in schools. Today’s unaddressed bullies become tomorrow’s harassers and bullies in the workplace, and destroy corporate morale and productivity.

LINK TO LAST YEAR’S BLOG which includes several resources.