Guest Blog by Doris Gonzalez, Director, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs for the Americas, IBM. Originally posted October 24, 2016.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that one in three students says they have been verbally or socially bullied in school. The reasons for the bullying are as varied as the hurtful comments that are hurled – words intended to make someone feel that they don’t belong.
This month, during National Bullying Prevention Month, IBM is kicking off a global anti-bullying initiative to help IBM volunteers and others present “Teaching Respect” materials to schools, community centers and nonprofit organizations that serve students ages 14 to 18. It’s one of the ways we hope to help young people better understand the importance of self-acceptance and respecting – and celebrating – differences.
At IBM, we embrace our diversity and value every individual. We know that diversity, varied perspectives and experiences, and safe and accepting environments are essential to innovation. By encouraging and supporting diversity, we enable a more enriching work environment that gives rise to stronger business outcomes.
GLSEN, a national education organization focused on ensuring safe and culturally affirming schools for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning)) students, developed the Teaching Respect materials at IBM’s request. The program rolls out today and tomorrow in Orlando, Florida, where the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities are still healing after the June 12th Pulse nightclub mass shooting.
We will hold volunteer events at Orlando’s Boone High School and other locations where students were impacted by the shooting, and with the Girl Scouts of Citrus, where participants will earn a “respect” patch for their Girl Scout sash. Subsequently, our Teaching Respect activities – enabled by IBM volunteers through IBM’s On Demand Community – will take place in communities around the world.
If these activities are able to help even one student to look in the mirror and appreciate themselves for who they are, our efforts are well worth the investment of time and expertise of our volunteers.
Teaching Respect to Become my superSELF, an anti-bullying event for Girl Scouts, takes place Wednesday, October 26 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Plaza Live in Orlando. Girls in grades 6-12 are invited to attend. Registration ends Wednesday at noon and costs only $1 per person. Register now.