Transgender Awareness Week takes place every year from November 13-19 and culminates in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th.
MongoDB is offering support through top-tier benefits<p>"MongoDB is committed to creating a safe space for all employees and offers support, benefits, and communities to empower belonging and inclusion.</p><p>To support our transgender employees, we're part of 1% of Cigna's client companies that offer expanded WPATH Standards of Care services. These benefits include: health plan coverage for medically necessary treatments, such as hormone therapy and gender affirming surgery; services to help employees navigate health care plans; resources to educate family and friends on LGBTQ+ topics; and support to help employees during their transition journey.</p><p>Internally, MongoDB has LGBTQ+ affinity groups including Queeries, Queer Collective, and Underrepresented Genders in Tech. These communities encourage an open exchange of thoughts, organize impactful events, and provide education to allies. MongoDB's internal Decoding Inclusion events amplify intersectional voices, including within the LGBTQ+ community. These sessions are open to all employees and share foundational knowledge to further our understanding of differences."</p><p><em>Learn more about MongoDB</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/mongodb" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Zynga is building allyship and community<p>"Zynga is united in our support for our LGBTQ+ community globally, specifically our Trans employees through several initiatives, including zPride. zPride is a global employee resource group that provides community, tools and insights that build and educate while fostering a culture of inclusivity and belonging for our LGBTQ+ employees and allies. zPride's efforts include events, panel discussions, education, and more that bring our LGBTQ+ employees together and build allyship.</p><p>Zynga also provides healthcare coverage for services and supplies for transgender reassignment surgery for employees as well as dependent children who identify as gender-nonconforming."</p><p><em>Learn more about Zynga </em><em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/zynga" target="_blank">here</a></em><em>.</em></p>
Equinix Metal is fostering belonging<p>"Equinix CEO Charles Meyers states it best when he commits to making Equinix a place 'where every employee can confidently say, "I'm safe", "I belong" and "I matter."' Equinix demonstrates that commitment in a variety of initiatives to support Trans employees and the broader Trans community, including offering expanded employee health benefit services to include coverage for Transgender benefits following the standards of care as recommended by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.</p><p>We also support PrideConnect, Equinix's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, which has included a deliberate focus on programming to educate and support transgender health and well-being, culture of understanding and belonging, and advocating internally to meet the needs of the transgender community across a variety of metrics.</p><p>Our HR team has pathway programs with organizations to connect diverse candidates with career opportunities at Equinix.</p><p>Additionally, we acknowledge sensitivity to the importance of gender identity by way of introducing pronoun identification on our internal directory systems. Equinix is also working with the Human Rights Campaign to be included in the upcoming Corporate Equality Index."</p><p><em>Learn more about Equinix </em><em>Metal </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/equinix-metal" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Lockheed Martin is enabling the transitioning process<p>"Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) supports Trans employees by providing guidance to our human resource business partners (HRBP) for the transitioning process, including a written plan which provides specific steps and actions to ensure a smooth transition that addresses areas such as badge updates, potential security clearance changes, employee profile updates and developing individualized communication and transition plans for future coworker-management interactions.</p><p>Further, MFC global diversity and inclusion has provided training to management and HRBP which covers Trans awareness, gender identity and expression, policy statements, terminology, communication-building exercises, restroom use guidance, roles and responsibilities as well as support resources. Overall, MFC works to facilitate a culture of respect by supporting Trans employees and raising awareness in the workplace regarding the challenges Trans employees face. Lockheed Martin has a commitment to build a safe and inclusive work environment in where all employees are treated fairly in accordance with the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct, while maintaining a discrimination-free work environment."</p><p><em>Learn more about Lockheed Martin </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/lockheed-martin" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Dell Technologies is partnering with the trans community<p>"As members of the global community, we are committed to working to increase understanding and to encourage LGBTQ inclusive policies in the localities where we work. In 2020, we celebrated our 16th consecutive year receiving a 100% on the HRC's 2019 Corporate Equality Index, which recognizes the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ equality.</p><p>Our well-established Pride employee resource group has created a Transgender Taskforce to represent transgender team members and team members with transgender family members by providing resources and a voice for the transgender and gender diverse community worldwide. We have also implemented a Transgender Toolkit that provides employees with guidance on everything from how and when to communicate about transition, to restroom accessibility. We are established sponsors of the National Out and Equal conference and have a partnership, including an internship program, with the GenderCool project."</p><p><em>Learn more about Dell Technologies </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/dell-technologies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Deloitte is increasing visibility<p>"We are proud of our commitment to an inclusive work environment where all our professionals can connect, belong, and grow. This commitment includes our continued support for the LGBTQ+ community, both internally and in the communities in which we live and serve.</p><p>Specifically, our employees can be recognized by the gender, if any, they most identify with, and use the corresponding bathroom or the gender-neutral bathrooms we have included in new offices where we occupy a full floor. Deloitte also provides opportunities for people to connect through Inclusion Councils as well as our BRGs, including GLOBE for LGBTQ+ and ally professionals.</p><p>We frequently share stories from our people who identify as transgender internally,</p><p>particularly for International Transgender Day of Visibility and Pride month, and in November 2018, Deloitte signed the Business Statement on Transgender Equality to tackle discrimination against people who identify as transgender or gender non-binary, or who are intersex."</p><p><em>Learn more about Deloitte</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/deloitte1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Waters Corporation is diversifying their hiring pipelines<p>"At Waters Corporation, we know that providing a safe and inclusive environment enhances the workplace, allows employees to thrive in their careers, and contributes to the employee community. We encourage all employees to come to work as their authentic selves and our guidelines and facilities allow them to do that, including comprehensive Gender Transition Guidelines, LGBTQ+ friendly health benefits, gender-neutral restrooms in our two largest sites, and an active LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, as well as a larger Diversity Circle that include ERG's for Gender Equality, Veterans and Multicultural Employees.</p><p>We have also enacted diverse recruitment hiring practices where there needs to be at least two diverse candidates in the interview process prior to making an offer to ensure we're always considering a diverse slate of interviewees."</p><p><em>Learn more about Waters Corporation</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/waters-corporation" target="_blank"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Schneider Electric is empowering their employees to live their truths at work<p>"At Schneider Electric, diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of our core values. We empower every employee to bring their whole, authentic selves to work. For us, having inclusive benefits and policies are the minimum baseline—they are workplace rights for everyone! Some of the benefits we offer to support our transgender community include fertility care, gender reassignment surgeries, and accessible counseling and psychological care through our Employee Assistance Program.</p><p>Our diversity ambitions are bold and breathe life into our company. Our LGBT+ and Allies Employee Resource Group (ERG) is focused on visibility, education, inclusion, and allyship. We recognize that to be a truly diverse and inclusive company, we must actively promote these values as part of our company culture. Psychological safety and emotional tax are not topics taken lightly here. That's why, with our ERG, we are creating safe spaces within our organization to find allies, speak openly, learn, and support each other.</p><p>Another one of our Core Values is 'Learn Every Day' and we offer several learning opportunities that support LGBT+ inclusion and allyship. Our trainings feature the stories and unique experiences of our own employees, like a recent module, 'Building Empathy on Transgender Inclusion.'</p><p>Because of these initiatives, our transgender employees are more empowered than ever to live their truths at work. Even now, when supporting each other in person is not an option, the LGBT+ and Allies ERG hosts virtual live events to bring people together, promote visibility, and cultivate inclusivity here at Schneider."</p><p><em>Thanks to Scheider's</em><em> Christina McCormick, National President of their</em> <em>LGBT+ and Allies ERG</em></p><p><em>Learn more about Schneider Electric</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/schneider-electric" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Freddie Mac is investing in learning about the trans experience<p>"Freddie Mac is committed to creating an inclusive environment for our diverse employees. Specific to our support for our transgender employees and the transgender community, Freddie Mac enables the Pride Business Resource Group (BRG) that serves the LGBTQ+ and ally community. The Pride BRG has led trans-inclusive events including transgender awareness learnings, panel discussions highlighting transgender experiences, and keynote speaker events featuring advocates for transgender and gender non-conforming people.</p><p>We also have established guidelines and health care benefits through our medical insurance provider for employees and dependents undergoing gender reassignment or hormone replacement therapy.</p><p>Additionally, Freddie Mac commissioned a <a href="http://www.freddiemac.com/research/consumer-research/20181001_lgbt_homeownership.page" target="_blank">first-of-its-kind study</a> to research the LGBT housing experience. The study found that members of the LGBT community are less likely to own a home, are more mobile, fear discrimination when buying a home, and prioritize living in LGBT-safe neighborhoods."</p><p><em>Learn more about Freddie Mac</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/freddie-mac" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Raytheon Technologies is building understanding<p>"Raytheon Technologies has created Gender Transition Guidelines to help foster dialogue and understanding of transgender issues in the workplace. They include overall recommendations for employees, managers, and Human Resources on how to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for employees undergoing transition at RTX, as well as specific information on topics such as restroom access and privacy rights.</p><p>In addition, we have several LGBTQ+ Community resources available on our internal Stronger Together Resource Center. The company also supports our RAYPRIDE ERG through funding and developmental opportunities such as a recent webcast on using our courage to help create a more inclusive environment for everyone."</p><p><em>Learn more about Raytheon Technologies </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/raytheon-technologies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Bristol Myers Squibb is working to combat LGBTQ+ health disparities<p>"At Bristol Myers Squibb, we recognize and celebrate the diverse experiences and views of our workforce, and encourage every employee to bring their full authentic self to work so they can fully engage in our mission of helping patients prevail over serious diseases.</p><p>Our PRIDE Alliance People and Business Resource Group is a vital part of that effort by helping to ensure a diverse and inclusive culture that empowers LGBTQ+ inclusion, awareness, and engagement.</p><p>BMS supports the TGNC community both internally and externally in many ways, including by implementing Trans Inclusive Guidelines to help colleagues and teams navigate the transition process; including gender-affirming healthcare in our benefits offerings; actively recruiting trans and other LGBTQ individuals into our workforce; purchasing from LGBTQ-owned businesses; actively supporting the trans social justice movement including sponsorship of local and national organizations; and working with allied health organizations to combat health disparities experienced by the LGBTQ+ community.<br><br></p><p><em>Learn more about Bristol Myers Squibb </em><em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/bristol-myers-squibb" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p>
T. Rowe Price is advocating for allyship and awareness<p>"T. Rowe Price is cognizant of the challenges transgender people face globally, including transphobia, regressive legislation, restricted access to medical support, and violence. To heighten awareness and to support trans people at the firm and in the broader community, we: share educational resources and stories, and support nonprofits that combat discrimination and provide resources to the transgender community. </p><p>Throughout Transgender Awareness Week, our LGBTQ+ business resource group (BRG), PRIDE @ T. Rowe Price, will publish a series of blogs, videos, stories, and calls to action to our internal social network site, which hosts over 4,000 users. The BRG highlights global community outreach initiatives associates can support, on behalf of trans employees, educates on current legislation affecting the trans community, and encourages associates to become an active ally and help end transphobia."</p><p><em>Learn more about T. Rowe Price </em><em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/t-rowe-price-group-inc" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p>
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the Department of Labor has focused on the theme "Increasing Access and Opportunity" for 2020, which is also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
NSA is enabling diverse perspectives<p>"At the National Security Agency, bringing together diverse experiences and perspectives is a key part of solving ever-changing mission needs. We ensure that employees have reasonable accommodations, access to assistive technology such as braille readers, independent communication tools for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, magnifying software, sign language interpreters, personal care attendants, closed captioning services as needed, and more. In addition, our People with Disabilities (PWD) Employee Resource Group (ERG) helps identify and address barriers to the PWD community. The PWD ERG helps all members of the workforce by ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. To achieve success in hiring and retaining the best talent, NSA continuously works to create a culture that is welcoming, inclusive, and open to different perspectives. 'NSA staff really helped to make what could have been an intimidating experience seem very comfortable and welcoming,' says NSA employee Timothy O."</p><em>Learn more about NSA </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/national-security-agency-nsa" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em>
Contrast Security is rewarding employees for their effort, not their limitations<p>"At Contrast, we celebrate our employees and their unique qualities in a number of ways. One example is how we've increased access to opportunities for our employees through our employee performance management process. Our organization has established a uniformed cadence for employee check-ins to address performance related issues. In addition, the check-ins enable managers to not only address performance challenges but to readily identify limitations in performance due to an employee's disability. Our managers are trained to reward and promote employees for their efforts and not their limitations. Lastly, we've revamped our 2020 talent strategy to ensure we're engaging with communities that not only have talent pools of individuals who are unrepresented, but talent pools of persons with disabilities."<br></p><em>Learn more about Contrast </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/contrast-security" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em>
Bounteous is bringing accessibility to all projects, online and off<p>"Inclusivity is intrinsically embedded in our core values and we understand that a diverse workforce is more empathetic, collaborative, and innovative. This translates to flexible work-from-home schedules, take-what-you-need paid time off, weekly wellness surveys, and well-championed ERGs. For team members who want to work from one of our collaboration centers, we ensure that our physical space is also comfortable, safe, and accessible. A good example of this is our recent Chicago headquarters expansion. In addition to adjustable desks, hoteling and private spaces, gender-free restrooms, and mother's rooms, we purchased new ADA-compliant equipment, lowered countertops in our kitchens and bathrooms, and added handles to all doors. At Bounteous we believe every experience—online or offline—deserves to be treated equally for all users, regardless of ability. When we co-innovate with our clients to transform their digital landscapes, accessibility standards and best practices are front and center to be inclusive of the widest possible audience. Check out some of our thought leadership on this topic:<br></p><p>·<a href="https://www.bounteous.com/events/2020/03/20/midwest-drupal-camp-how-my-disabilities-made-me-better-developer" target="_blank"> How My Disabilities Make Me a Better Developer</a></p><p>·<a href="https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bounteous.com%2Finsights%2F2020%2F04%2F16%2Faddressing-accessibility-concerns-virtual-conferences%2F&data=02%7C01%7Csarah.baker%40bounteous.com%7Cfb28bc8db5f54026c12008d866273586%7C9d343c00481447ebabcde3a0761d628b%7C1%7C0%7C637371665888261411&sdata=DMkrtT5HiKCMlo0twq%2FX5%2B0XVVhjoLxcG4bJh6iDaIE%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Addressing Accessibility Concerns for Virtual Conferences — A Case Study</a></p><p>·<a href="https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bounteous.com%2Finsights%2F2019%2F05%2F16%2FCelebrating-Accomplishments-Web-Accessibility%2F&data=02%7C01%7Csarah.baker%40bounteous.com%7Cfb28bc8db5f54026c12008d866273586%7C9d343c00481447ebabcde3a0761d628b%7C1%7C0%7C637371665888271396&sdata=jfMP5tiLlFEfpWKySciwMAjyBylx%2F52TdQeqLTxv1Do%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Celebrating Accomplishments & Becoming A Resource in Web Accessibility</a></p><p>·<a href="https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bounteous.com%2Finsights%2F2019%2F03%2F22%2Forange-you-accessible-mini-case-study-color-ratio%2F&data=02%7C01%7Csarah.baker%40bounteous.com%7Cfb28bc8db5f54026c12008d866273586%7C9d343c00481447ebabcde3a0761d628b%7C1%7C0%7C637371665888271396&sdata=SsHxgKOlgB4lqZgpPNeGgGfQQrNM%2BDqTUTuKoZRikEE%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Orange You Accessible? A Mini Case Study on Color Ratio</a></p><p>·<a href="https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bounteous.com%2Finsights%2F2018%2F07%2F19%2Faccessibility-508-ada-wcag-essential-knowledge-and-actions%2F&data=02%7C01%7Csarah.baker%40bounteous.com%7Cfb28bc8db5f54026c12008d866273586%7C9d343c00481447ebabcde3a0761d628b%7C1%7C0%7C637371665888281390&sdata=J5wQy7O2ZTac1hhrhPxf4HqX9ItVWhVbgw2mOWJQch0%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Accessibility: 508, ADA, WCAG – Essential Knowledge and Actions</a></p><p>·<a href="https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bounteous.com%2Finsights%2F2018%2F05%2F17%2Fempathy-web-accessibility%2F&data=02%7C01%7Csarah.baker%40bounteous.com%7Cfb28bc8db5f54026c12008d866273586%7C9d343c00481447ebabcde3a0761d628b%7C1%7C0%7C637371665888281390&sdata=ptPxwB69ch8a3j%2B71rnFWaBTGKI1MDSh11Tg1PNN7Vk%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Empathy in Web Accessibility</a>"</p><em>Learn more about Bounteous</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/bounteous" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em>
Deloitte is collaborating on inclusion<p>"At Deloitte, everyone contributes to our DE&I efforts. Everyone has a role to play. Our inclusive culture inspires us to try new things, speak openly, and be bold and empowers us to connect, belong, and grow. Our goal is to understand, engage and support people of diverse abilities to contribute to our growth and success. We are dedicated to supporting people with disabilities through a variety of ways throughout the entire employee lifecycle. Disability:IN named Deloitte one of 2019's "Best Places to Work For Disability Inclusion. While being recruited or at any other time in the employee lifecycle, candidates and employees can request an accommodation. Our Inclusion Councils bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences and engage in activities and events related to inclusion, well-being, development, and community involvement. Many of our offices have BRGs, including AbilityFirst chapters, which collaborate with our Inclusion Councils."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Deloitte</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/deloitte1" target="_blank"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Spotify is creating spaces to share<p>"At Spotify, our Able ERG serves as a community for employees with disabilities and their allies. Through various channels, we have discussions about everything from ADHD hacks to supporting a partner with a disability—and beyond! Even with the wide range of lived disability experience, having a place to go where people have had similar stories of exclusion inside and out of the workplace is invaluable. In terms of working with the efforts of the company, we've had a chance to work closely with the Global Workplace Services team on efforts to ensure that the office is accessible and inclusive, as well as with HR on inclusive hiring efforts and meeting accommodations. Our community hopes to help Spotify continue to build an accessible, welcoming environment while also raising awareness throughout the company of the talents and perspectives of our members."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Spotify</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/spotify" target="_blank"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Mindbody is celebrating progress<p>"Mindbody's ERG A11iance is here to create a culture of accessibility at Mindbody by raising awareness among employees, customers, and consumers and empowering them to take tangible, actionable steps. In other words, we're here as an accessibility advocacy group, spreading information, advocating for change (within the MB product line and the company culture), and celebrating each step MB takes towards accessibility for ALL."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Mindbody </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/mindbody" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
MongoDB is making resources accessible<p>"MongoDB continuously evaluates and adds to our disability benefits offerings. We provide standard short-term and long-term disability pay and address accommodation requests to aid employees in working more comfortably and effectively. MongoDB also offers services and resources such as behavioral and mental therapies; apps for virtual therapy; veteran-specific mental care; family forming assistance; and services for cosmetic surgeries to improve or alter appearance related to appearance-based self-esteem issues and gender dysphoria. We promote a culture that increases access and opportunity for all employees and are in the process of creating an employee resource group to bring together people with physical and/or neurological disabilities. Here, members can connect with others and help MongoDB identify benefits that best serve them. Our internal Decoding Inclusion events share foundational knowledge about D&I topics, including disabilities. These events are accessible to employees across the globe and build a community amongst employees."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about MongoDB</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/mongodb" target="_blank"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
LogMeIn is recruiting thoughtfully<p>"At LogMeIn we're building a workforce that is a better representation of the world around us. Where everyone can do their best work and be their authentic self. We believe a business that's built by everyone works better for everyone. We have partnered with Recruit Disability, CareerCast's Disability Network, and DisabilityJobs.net to ensure we are including and inviting differently abled workers into recruiting process. Additionally, we offer working flexibility, including schedules and locations, that are adaptable to the many different needs of our employees. Lastly, we are able to collaborate remotely using our own technology, such as our GoTo Suite of products, that have been designed to meet and exceed the many different accessibility requirements of our customers and employees."</p><p><span></span><em>Learn More about LogMeIn <a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/logmein-inc" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p>
Elastic is building and leading with empathy<p>"At Elastic, accessibility is an integral part of equity and inclusion. We want to ensure that <a href="https://www.elastic.co/blog/culture-accessibility-awareness-day-at-elastic?ultron=eb&blade=powertofly&hulk=web" target="_blank">Someone Like Me</a> and <em>you </em>feels welcome and have the tools necessary to <a href="https://www.elastic.co/about/our-source-code?ultron=eb&blade=powertofly&hulk=web" target="_blank">come as we are</a>. That's why Elastic managers and interviewers take Minus the Bias training to avoid issues of unconscious bias and to promote psychological safety at work. We can improve, but we're working on it. Our Accessibility Working Group is an employee-led, equity-seeking group that works to create and develop a disability-inclusive workplace by building awareness and empathy towards people with disabilities, understanding and addressing the barriers faced by employees living with a disability, influencing adoption and integration of accessible and inclusive practices across all Elastic teams, and investing in employee education and training. As for products, <a href="https://www.elastic.co/blog/making-kibana-accessible?ultron=eb&blade=powertofly&hulk=web" target="_blank">Kibana is working towards Level AA compliance</a> and we are continuing to improve accessibility components for better navigation of all our products."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Elastic</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/elastic" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Bristol Myers Squibb is helping people with disabilities prevail<p>"Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is a global pharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.<br></p><p>DAWN (Differently-Abled Workplace Network) is a People and Business Resource Group for BMS employees that fosters an inclusive work environment where employees with disabilities are valued and encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work, use their diverse perspectives, and contribute in a unique and meaningful way. DAWN strives to develop a culture of disability inclusion by increasing the talent pool of job candidates with disabilities through inclusive targeting efforts such as STEM mentoring programs and virtual career fairs; enhancing culture through inclusion best practices, captioning, self-ID, and addressing stigmas; supporting diverse disability suppliers (DOBEs); addressing public health disparities that impact people with disabilities; and adding signature programs that support employees with disabilities and their families such as an employee Cancer Support Network."</p><p><em>Learn more about Bristol Myers Squibb</em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/bristol-myers-squibb" target="_blank"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Lockheed Martin is sponsoring education and advancement<p>"Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) is a member of the Florida Ability Inclusion Network (FAIN). This organization focuses on helping veterans and people with disabilities find a career in Central Florida. FAIN has not been active this year due to COVID-19, but normally the group sponsors biannual business initiatives in which local veterans, their spouses and people with disabilities meet with Lockheed Martin managers for coaching on their job hunting, resume development, interviewing and offer negation skills. Additionally, Able and Allies, an MFC business resource group, has a mission to build an environment that empowers employees with disabilities to contribute professionally to the full extent of their abilities. The organization strives to educate employees and leaders on disabilities and recommend best practices to promote a disability-friendly workplace. Able and Allies has been achieving this mission by participating in the Dallas mayor's employAbilitiy Job Fair, as well as sponsoring mental health and disability awareness webinars."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Lockheed Martin </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/lockheed-martin" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Snap Inc. is promoting respect<p>"One way we support employees with disabilities is through SnapAbility, one of our Employee Resource Groups. ERGs are created and led by members of the Snap Inc. family. They empower us to come together to celebrate a common cause, raise awareness, encourage advocacy, and refine our approach to recruiting. SnapAbility is a community for team members who identify as persons with disabilities, and it includes the many allies, guardians, and advocates who support them — both at Snap and beyond. Their mission is to promote empathy, respect, and kindness for all people, regardless of ability level or mental health status. By fostering open conversations around these topics, partnering with organizations like Angel City Games, and making Snap products more inclusive and accessible to all users, they're driving forward on this mission every day."<br></p><p><em>Learn more about Snap Inc. </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/snap-inc-co" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Yulia Genkina is a Curriculum Engineer on the Education team at MongoDB. In her day-to-day, she creates new educational experiences for others to learn how to use MongoDB. She loves what she does because she believes that access to learning should be free and available to everyone. Before working at MongoDB, she used to teach in a public school in New York City. Yulia is also an advocate for mental health and sat down with me to share her experiences and why she believes we need to break the stigma that surrounds mental healthcare.Jessica Katz: Thank you so much for sharing your story with me - I know how passionate you are about mental health awareness. I would love to learn about your experiences with mental health and what some of the challenges are that you've faced.
Yulia Genkina: Sure! My experience with mental health ranges from being in the role of a caretaker for those around me who struggle and need support, to me myself seeking mental health care and support.
I grew up in Russia, where there is a serious stigma around mental health, and for the majority of the population, mental health issues and complications are not viewed as medical problems. I've often heard people with depression being referred to as lazy and weak even if those people were beloved members of my family. In fact, my father still holds this very opinion despite knowing that I live with depression.
It is a very strange space to be in, especially given the fact that I grew up with a mother who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, a step-mother with clinical depression, and a sister with a borderline personality disorder. All these diagnoses require care, treatment, and compassion, just like any other chronic diagnosis. Good mental healthcare in Russia was hard to come by when I was growing up there, but I was hoping that the conditions of my family's mental health did not affect me too much when I was making the move to New York.
When I began teaching in New York City, it became apparent to me that there is a strong stigma surrounding mental health here as well. Many communities from which my students came had a very similar outlook on mental health to what I experienced in Russia. A lot of my students should have been provided with mental health care but they didn't receive the care they needed. The schools did not have enough resources to support its students or educators in that way either.
With regard to my mental health, I initially started seeking help to find a way and to get support to convince my husband to accept mental health care and start going to therapy. While going to therapy to find ways to support him, I found that I too was struggling a lot and was in need of help. At this point, we are both in good care of a fantastic doctor, taking care of ourselves, each other, and our loved ones to the best of our ability, which wasn't possible a few years ago.
JK: How have you grown through this experience and what have you learned about yourself throughout this process?
YG: I learned some cliche things that are nevertheless true. You can't truly care for others if you don't practice self-care, just like you can't truly love someone if you don't love yourself. But I also learned some surprising things about myself. In the past, I've been very supportive and happy for people who chose to take prescribed medication for their mental health, however, when it came to my turn in this journey and I had to make the decision of whether or not I was willing to try medication, I was scared.
There are so many myths around antidepressants, people who take antidepressants, and just any mental health-related medication, and I carried that stigma and fear within me as well. I thought, "I'm not the kind of person who needs medication! That's the last resort! What if I become dependent on antidepressants forever? That would be horrible!" I thought all sorts of scary things. This is especially silly given that my husband was already taking this same medication and he was doing great, and I was in full support of it.
What helped me snap out of this was my husband, my therapist, and family and friends who have also experienced mental health issues. For example, learning that my super awesome, always energetic, inquisitive, researcher aunt also took antidepressants at some points in her life, yet here she was living her best life, gave me hope. Learning similar things about other people through sharing my fears and experiences with them really helped me.
JK: How did MongoDB support you during this time and how do you think people with mental health conditions can be best supported?
YG: Having good health insurance through MongoDB is an incredible privilege with regard to mental health care. I've been utilizing company-sponsored memberships that are centered around mental health care as well like Headspace, which is a meditation app. The flexible work schedule we have at MongoDB has been invaluable too. I can schedule an appointment with my therapist when it's convenient for me instead of strictly before or after working hours. As long as I get my work done, taking out an hour a week for a therapy session doesn't negatively affect how my manager views me or my performance.
Similarly, I've been able to take PTO when needed without having to explain that I just need a self-care day, or that I'm dealing with a mental health emergency.
I think there are many ways to support others in their journey to taking care of their mental health. Here are some that I can think of right now:
- Don't attempt to be your friend's or employee's therapist. Instead, research how to best hold a non-invasive compassionate conversation with that person to let them know that you are there for them to help accommodate when needed.
- Establish a clear communication/support protocol where both parties have a guilt-free and pressure-free conversation about getting support when moments of a mental health crisis arrive.
- Don't assume. It can be hard to know when someone is struggling with mental health and needs support so never make assumptions. Instead, having respect, trust and clear communication are very important at all times.
JK: Why do you think it's important for people to be more open to talking about mental health?
YG: There is a lot of stigma around this subject, and with stigma comes a lot of misinformation and fear. This means that people don't know when and how to look for help, or there is fear of taking medication or trying different types of therapy. The thing is though, the more we talk about it, the more we learn. We learn that everyone is different and one approach may work for some but not others. We learn about the variety of ways in which people around us cope and grow, we learn to not assume, and most importantly we learn empathy.
I found that people are generally surprised when someone speaks about mental health openly, but are also relieved at the same time, to know that they are not alone. If we don't talk about these things then we might believe that everyone else's life is perfect while scrolling through Instagram, where everyone we see is living a happy, interesting, well-balanced life, and we think for some reason, we're the only ones who just can't figure it out. In reality, everyone struggles in some way or another, and we can all learn from each other and support each other if we actually talk about what we are going through.
JK: Why are you passionate about this?
YG: I've seen the lack of mental health care and complete denial of mental health importance ruin the lives of many people in my life. My immediate family has gone through so much turmoil with multiple people in the family having schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and other life-long conditions going untreated and ignored. I've seen so much suffering and denial while teaching high school in New York City as well. I don't wish this struggle on anyone, and from what I'm seeing there is a real mental health crisis in many communities in the US. If me speaking about this helps even a tiny bit, then I'll keep speaking up.
JK: What would you like other people to know about this issue?
YG: There is so much! Mental health is part of our physical health and needs as much care and attention as our physical bodies do. I always thought that I was a strong and independent person, who can take on pretty much anything that life throws at me (I know, a bit arrogant of me) but the reality is that no matter how strong and independent you are as a person, you are still affected by so many factors that are in and out of your control. Do your research, learn about yourself and your health.
Working on your mental health is similar to exercising, or eating healthy — it is another very important way to better yourself and your quality of life. Do more research to understand what is true and what isn't about the mental health options that are available to you.
If someone you love and are in close relationship with is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is as important for you to get help as it is for them. Caring for someone in this situation is difficult and has a profound impact on your mental health as well.
Take care. We're all in it together.
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