Renee Smith, founder of A Human Workplace and past ICSEW conference presenter has a few virtual gatherings this week on Working Alone Together. One of the webinars is geared to those who identify as women and ‘Standing Together for Love and Justice’ focuses on leaning into the work of overturning racial injustices.
From Renee Smith:
Take time this week for self-compassion and connection
We are each facing a lot, holding so much…The pandemic. Opening the economy. Grief over the attrocities of racial injustice. We want to take wise actions, to listen and learn, to figure out what we can do.
Our nervous systems, bodies, minds, emotions are overloaded. I know I’m feeling it – I am guessing you are too?
To stay present and strong for ourselves and for those who depend on us, it’s a good time for self-compassion, for community and human connection.
Join us to connect with others, lower your cortisol, recover your energy and mental focus while experiencing practices you can use again and again.
Working Alone Together – for anyone: June 9 • 9:00 – 11:00 AM PDT
Hosted by Lori Heffelfinger and James Jackman. Learn more here.
Women Working Alone Together – for those identifying as women: June 10 • 9:00 – 11:00 AM PDT
Hosted by Shannon Patterson and Gina Lavery. Learn more here.
Standing Togther for Love and Justice – for anyone: June 11 • 1-2:30 PM PDT
Hosted by Derick Carter, Greg Flynn and Renee Smith. Learn more here.
Next Week: More Human Now begins. Join us!
This new 6-part series will help you move intentionally through the grief and overwhelm of these times by cultivating human skills, using evidence based practices for well-being, and moving toward qualities you care about – now.
June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21 • 1:00 – 2:30 PM
Hosted by Renee Smith and Greg Flynn. Learn more here.
ICSEW is deeply honored to share the message below from the Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) business resource group, many of whom are part of the ICSEW community. BUILD exists to improve the experiences of current and future Black employees, increase the representation of Black people in leadership positions, give voice to Black perspectives in policy decisions about Washington communities, and build each other up as we move forward.
We, as the ICSEW community and as individuals, have a responsibility to find ways to eradicate racism, discrimination and disparate outcomes not only within the organizations where we work, but in our daily lives. It may seem overwhelming – but small, concrete actions, like speaking up and not being silent in the face of racism, can make real change happen.
ICSEW is committed to building an environment of opportunity and equity for all. Included on BUILD’s webpage is a list of resources that can further support our friends and colleagues.
Thank you to BUILD for moving Washington forward.
Amal Joury, ICSEW Chair
A Message from BUILD
Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) brings you a special message from our Leadership. For more information, support, and resources, visit our website: BUILDWA.org
We are not okay. How could we be? Continued acts of violence toward members of the black community have shaken our souls, left ineffaceable images in our minds, and fractured our hearts. Within our community, there is fear as we wonder who among us is next? Anger as we contemplate why these acts continue to happen. Sadness as we reckon with the fact each atrocity reaffirms that all people are clearly not created equal. At the intersection of all of our emotions is the realization that the existence of racism has yet to be openly acknowledged. A mere utterance of the word solicits cringe-worthy responses by those who attempt to justify the motives behind the actions that create injury within the black community; while giving rise to discomfort in others who would rather it remain a secret locked deep in the bowels of our social structure where it has no impact upon them. Continued denial of what is so clearly obvious is both shameful and disgusting and continues to perpetuate the disenfranchisement of a people.
No longer can we sit silently idle while our communities are subjected to the racial contract that has plagued our country. To continue to deny that racism exists in our culture would be comparable to denying oneself of the nutrients that are essential for survival. Abstinence in the short-term is possible, however, long-term deprivation would result in catastrophic injury and suffering. The deprivation of equality and the preservation of racist ideals have caused catastrophic injury and suffering to the black community for far too long. We can no longer elect to occasionally treat the symptoms of racism in our society. This disease must be eradicated completely. A remedy, however, cannot be achieved without the admission that racism still exists. As Dr. King (1968) posited in his speech at Grosse Point High School:
We will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is. It is the nymph of an inferior people. It is the notion that one group has all of the knowledge, all of the insights, all of the work, all of the purity, all of the dignity. And another group is worthless, or on a lower level of humanity, inferior. To put it in philosophical language, racism is not based on some empirical generalization which, after some studies, would come to conclusion that these people are behind because of environmental conditions. Racism is based on an ontological affirmation. It is the notion that the very being of a people is inferior.
His words maintain their relevance in American culture some 52 years later. Violent acts of racism have eroded the hope of a nation at a time where the strength of togetherness held remarkable value. The uncertainty of our current circumstance coupled with the global pandemic amplifies the intensity of the times. Now more than ever we call upon those who can speak truth into power, bravely denouncing the oppressive acts that have created dissension within our communities. We must be willing to display a courageous vulnerability as we share with others how these tragedies have impacted our lives. We must engage in a unified dialogue not to cast blame on a villain; rather partner in a collaborative fashion to generate ways in which we can raise awareness, educate others, and reconstruct the social agreement around race in our communities. In the words of Fredrick Douglas, “the feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the priority of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against man must be proclaimed and denounced” (Douglas, F., 1852).
To our community, Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity stands with you. Our hearts are fractured along with yours. We see you, we love you, and honor you. With open arms, we welcome you to join us as we continue this dialogue at our next general membership meeting June 18th (calendar appointment linked below). You are not alone…we are not alone. Together we will let every voice be heard. Together we will continue to persevere. Together we will prepare to rise united and meet this moment.
The Washington State Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity business resource group exists to improve the experiences of current and future Black state employees, increase the representation of Black people in leadership positions, give voice to the Black perspective in policy discussions about Washington communities, and build each other up as we move forward.
Please share this information and encourage your colleagues and state-employed family and friends to attend and get involved! We are a formal, enterprise-wide resource group conducting official state business. Participants are not required to take leave to participate. If you experience any challenges to participating, please let us know.
The women of our grandmothers’ time lived in a very small and narrow sphere, but civilization has advanced by many leaps and bounds. Now Washington can prove to the world the greatness of our evergreen state is not determined by the number of acres it contains or its population, but by the characters of its men and women who today are extending to all women of America the privilege of the a ballot.
–Frances Haskell, first women elected to Washington State House of Representatives on ratification of the 19th amendment granting women’s right to vote
Secretary of State Kim Wyman was moved to tears as she read the quote by Frances Haskell, the first woman elected to Washington State’s House of Representatives during the ICSEW’s first ever virtual meeting May 19.
“It gets me teary every time I read that quote because it was those powerhouse women who got to serve in the legislature because the men and women in Washington state in 1910 had the foresight to say, ‘you know what? Women should have the right to vote,’” Wyman said. “Women have held almost every elected position in the state because of Frances Haskell.
ICSEW members attended the meeting via Zoom and Facebook live. In addition to talking about women’s suffrage in Washington state, Wyman also answered questions submitted via Zoom Chat and Facebook Live. She talked about the address confidentiality program, which keeps addresses of victims of domestic violence, stalking, trafficking and sexual assault from public records.
Wyman also talked about innovations Washington state has taken in a vote-by-mail system. Wyman noted that Washington is one of only five states in the nation that is entirely vote by mail and the Secretary of State’s Office has worked with partner agencies such as the FBI and Homeland security to ensure the integrity and protection of the elections as critical infrastructure.
Wyman also answered questions about who were ‘powerhouse women’ who have inspired her career. She talked about her maternal and paternal grandmothers. They were both single mothers in the 1940s who had been in abusive relationships. They both got divorced. “They were single women in a time when women were not single,” Wyman said.
“They both realized this was not the future they wanted for their children….They had the fortitude to work hard and instill that in their children and grandchildren. When I look back on those foundational elements and tie it back in with people li9ke Billie Jean King and Title IX, Title IX taught me to compete and gave me the keys to the workforce. I’m very proud of that family.”
After the presentation, Mentorship Subcommittee Chair Josefina Magana gave an update on the ICSEW mentorship pilot. The subcommittee is exploring virtual ways to proceed with the mentorship program, in light of the governor’s Stay, Home Stay Healthy Order. She said the mentorship subcommittee is still looking for around ten state employees to serve as mentors to other state employees in the pilot. If you are interested send an email to Stacy Hiatt by June 5, 2020. email@example.com. For more information, please visit the Mentorship Pilot Program page.
The Washington State Employee Assistance Program is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register today for these upcoming live webinars:
*New* Couples: Managing Your Way through COVID-19 (live)
Are you missing someone at your agency? Maybe a state professional development group? Do you want an opportunity to tell them so while also supporting charitable organizations? Or perhaps you’d rather send some cheer or encouragement.
The Combined Fund Drive is holding a 2020 Miss You Grams fundraising effort across state agencies. Between now and May 31, you can send e-grams to your colleagues to let them know you’re thinking about them, offer good tidings and more.
State CFD is offering six e-grams from which to choose. You can then leave a personalized message in your e-gram too!
Each e-gram donation is $2 and can be deducted from your paycheck through a CFD-provided link, and you can instantly send a personalize Miss You e-gram. To participate, select this link, fill out the form and choose the e-gram you’d like to send. Then an emailed e-gram will be sent to the recipient.
Effective today, state agenices will replace Employee Self-Service (ESS) with MyPortal, according to the Office of Financial Management (OFM). Currently, state employees use ESS to access earning statements, view leave balances, request leave time and update personal contact information.
MyPortal will provide the same access.
Why is ESS being replaced?
MyPortal offers a more modern user interface and improved accessibility for those who use assistive technology. This new platform will also allow the state to more easily implement future enhancements, such as basic timesheets or access to mobile applications.
Where can I find information on how to use MyPortal?
Most agencies have already posted information on their intranets and sent staff wide email messages. If you have any questions about how to access My Portal, contact your agency’s Human Resources Office.
Deadline for submissions is close of business Friday, May 22
Does your state agency do outstanding inclusion and diversity work? The Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network, (RAIN) business group is seeking nominations for its RAIN Outstanding Agency Award.
Formed in 2016 under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Directive 16-11, this state LGBTQ+ business resource group helps establish best practices for state agencies to “create a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, allies, and customers in Washington State,” wrote Best Practices Co-Chairs Marisa Sanchez-Reed and Jasper Marino.
“We look forward to receiving nominations from all state employees and strongly encourage those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community to tell us about the great work and many ways their agency encourages a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace,” the co-chairs wrote.
If you have questions please reach out to RAIN’s Marisa (she/her/they/them) or Jasper (they/them/he/him).
About RAIN:The Rainbow Alliance & Inclusion Network (RAIN), Washington State Employees’ LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group (BRG), is an equal opportunity resource group. RAIN welcomes all Washington state employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or other diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression groups, and their allies. RAIN encourages all members to bring their authentic selves to the BRG.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the May 2020 Washington State Employee Assistance Program Newsletter
In addition to fear and anxiety, COVID-19 is causing many to struggle with feelings of disappointment. Whether it is a cancelled celebration or a postponed vacation, If not managed in a healthy way, disappointment can lead to lingering feelings of sadness and even depression. Here are four positive steps to help work through feelings of disappointment.
1) Give yourself permission to be disappointed. Adults are often so uncomfortable with negative emotions that there is a tendency to try to rush past them. However, if you allow yourself to experience the disappointment, as well as any other feelings you’re experiencing such as sadness and anger, you stand a better chance of being able to process your feelings in a healthy way. Genuinely experiencing emotions, no matter how painful, is part of the human experience. As you learn how to move through negative emotions rather than circumventing them, you help strengthen your personal resilience.
2) Find support. There is an old Yiddish saying, “Man plans, and God laughs.” As you know, the unexpected can suddenly pull the rug out from under cherished plans. Maybe you also know that when you share your disappointment with someone you trust, you will find support. Talking about disappointment can help release some of its fuel. In addition, the person you share with can offer comfort and may help you gain additional perspective.
3) Identify what you value. Disappointment reveals what really matters. If you are dejected because your child’s graduation ceremony was cancelled due to coronavirus, what does that reveal about what you care about? Is it a reflection of how proud you are of them or how eager you were to celebrate their achievement? Or, did you view their graduation as your graduation as well? Digging deeper and understanding what is at the root of your disappointment can be a very healthy exercise. From there you can move on to other ways to honor what you value.
4) Channel your disappointment. Once you uncover what you value, you can channel the energy of your disappointment to positive actions honoring that value. For the cancelled graduation, as an example, perhaps that means offering to spearhead a virtual graduation ceremony or creating a video with personal messages of congratulations.
While you do not have the power to change things outside of your control, you are able to control how you respond. If you are dealing with a COVID-19 related disappointment, know that you are not alone and, there is the possibility of understanding, learning from and growing through disappointment. If you’d like support to dig deeper and better understand your feelings, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to the EAP for support, at 877-313-4455