Today is National Disability Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26th, 1990 – a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. At Green Room Communications (GR), not only do we strive to support those who live with a disability through our advocacy efforts, but we are committed to cultivating a culture of inclusivity and equal opportunity for our team members affected by a disability.
One of the most critical ways we do this is by leading with empathy and offering flexible, remote working options that enable our team members to balance their professional growth with prioritizing their, and their loved ones’, health and well-being.
According to a recent study by AARP and S&P Global, 75% of parents and family caregivers report a moderate or major increase in stress and 60% of women who juggle work and caregiving responsibilities are now providing more care than before the pandemic.
As we continue to seek ways to support our employees, we gathered the below insights from our team about their personal experiences caring for loved ones with disabilities while at GR.
LeighAnne Castimore, Executive Assistant
My son, Henry, is 12 and was diagnosed with autism at age two. It became abundantly clear within the first few years of diagnosis that working full-time, in-person, would be impossible. After the initial pandemic shutdown, I realized remote workplaces were gaining popularity and thought a remote option may be a good fit for me. I stumbled upon GR and learned during the interview that they supported remote roles even prior to the shutdown. It was comforting to know that this was a policy not created due to COVID, but one that was already part of their culture. GR understands and supports work/life balance more than any company I’ve ever worked for. I can tend to my son’s needs as they present and balance my work responsibilities. I heard GR’s Managing Partner, Deb Fowler, once say, “You can have it all!” and I say it all the time now. You really can have it all when you have the right support.
Maryanne Caruso, Consultant
I’m a caregiver for my elderly mother. I take her to all doctor appointments, manage medication, grocery shop and make sure she has meaningful social and wellness components in her life. She recently fractured her pelvis and will be in rehab for a while, and I will be navigating through this process as her advocate. My former role would have had me back in NYC without flexibility, compassion and empathy for my situation. Now, I have the flexibility to be productive in my career while making sure my mother gets to all appointments, gets the best care and has an engaging quality of life. One silver lining of the pandemic is that many other companies are now recognizing the importance of work-life balance, which we can all benefit from.
Allison Pishko, Senior Vice President of Client Navigation
My younger daughter has a rare genetic mitochondrial disease which resulted in her suddenly losing her sight at age 20. Once I returned to GR, after initially taking leave, the flexibility of their model provided me the opportunity to attend doctor’s appointments with my daughter while knowing I was able to return to my work when I had the opportunity, and that I had an incredible team that had my back when I needed to be out. The adage of “you never know what people are dealing with” is true, and in my case, my child developed a disability seven years into my career at GR. If this was not the flexible, supportive environment it is, I am not sure I would have been able to continue working here. I was always supportive of team members who needed to flex their time to take care of a child with a disability or special needs, I just never imagined I would have been one of them.
Jen Zoller, Vice President of Client Navigation
I’ve been with GR for just over two years and have never felt more strongly that I am in the right place at the right time. As a working mother of three kids, one with Down Syndrome, it is critical that I have a level of flexibility that allows me to manage work and life. Parenting a child with special needs requires advocating for your child, but also, advocating for yourself. Cutting out my commute time and being closer to my children’s daycare is a critical component that helps me get my work done and handle unforeseen appointments that pop up. Most importantly, it gives me a better peace of mind to focus on work, but pivot quickly if I ever need to. I’ll admit that working from home requires a tremendous amount of discipline, reliability, time management and effort to be engaged with your teams and clients. It is a privilege that I work hard to protect, because ultimately, I would not be able to do what I do without it. Lastly, I want to encourage people to, instead of focusing in on what people ARE NOT ABLE to do, focus on what they ARE ABLE to do so we are celebrating the individual’s abilities.
To join in recognizing and supporting the disability community, visit the ADA National Network to learn more.