Women and LGBT in the Military

Women in MilitaryIt’s been known that minorities such as women and the LGBT community have not always been welcomed with open arms into the military. In recent history, there has been a stigma surrounding these groups joining the military and fighting for the United States.  According to The Atlantic, women were not allowed to “serve in all front-line combat roles for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command” until just two years ago.  And the LGBT community had their own obstacles, first to be allowed to serve in the military, and then the creation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) from 1993-2011, which created controversy and hardship for those affected.

However, it seems as though things are looking up for these two groups serving in the military. Below are two examples of how dignity and respect are portrayed by government officials and outstanding military women that are breaking barriers for our minorities.

Women in the Military

In the past two years, women have been making history and breaking glass ceilings in the military special forces. According to Defense One, “the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment has become the first special operations unit to have a woman meet the standards of its selection course.”

In fact, not one, but two women graduated from Army Ranger school in December 2016. This is extremely significant because Army Ranger school is the most grueling, both mentally and physically, training course in the Army. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Defense One’s Council on Foreign Relations, explains Ranger school is an “intense combat leadership course through swamps and mountains.”  

This achievement is also momentous because it is the first time a woman “earned a spot in the special operations forces.”  Although not every job in the military is opened to women yet, women have been making a difference in the forces for years. Lemmon explained that  “women soldiers joined Rangers on night raids, and searched and questioned Afghan women during raids to keep the women away from the combat operation then happening in their home.”

Although the process of merging women into the military and recently the special operation forces has been a long one, Lemmon said “women soldiers have proved their value to the mission and won acceptance as teammates as time went on.”

General James Mattis Testimony

Another example of how a person or persons has shown dignity and respect in regards to integrating women and LGBT in the military is General James Mattis’s testimony at his confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary. Senator Elizabeth Gilliland asked him whether he believed LGBT people “undermined the military’s lethality” and Mattis responded by saying he wasn’t “concerned about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with.” Mattis continued by saying “my concern is the readiness of the force to fight and make certain it is the top of the game. When we go up against the enemy, the criteria that everything that we do in the military, up to that point, when we put the young men and women across the line of departure, is they are at the most lethal stance.”

This surprised many, including Senator Gilliland and Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, who was elated to have heard Mattis’s answer. “When General Mattis agreed that women and LGBT troops can contribute to the military’s lethality, he was supporting the long-standing argument, backed up by a solid consensus in the research as well as the experiences of foreign militaries, that inclusive policy promotes readiness,” Belkin stated.

It’s encouraging to hear General Mattis’s respond with statements about LGBT in the military, in an environment that has, in the past, ignored or rejected gay rights issues.

To learn more about how your organization can implement dignity and respect on issues such as minority rights, check out our website and initiatives.


Uber’s Capabilities for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Partners

Chances are you’ve summoned a ride using Uber by now, or you know someone who has. A regular user or driver is likely to notice frequent updates to the app – in their own words, the transportation network company is “always working to make the Uber experience as hassle-free as possible for our riders and driver-partners.”

Besides setting a fleet of driverless cars out onto the streets of Pittsburgh (we’re growing to trust them!), Uber appears to live up to its statement with the inclusion of accessibility features.

Hard of Hearing? No Problem for Uber.

There’s a feature for that. How does it work? From Uber’s website: “The Uber Partner app includes capabilities for deaf and hard of hearing partners. These features are all completely optional.”

Uber partners who are deaf or hard of hearing need only make the setting active, which prompts their app to:

  • Turn off calling and use text-only messaging. “The ability to call a deaf or hard of hearing driver-partner is turned off for the rider – instead, riders are directed to text their driver if they need to communicate with them.”
  • Flashing trip request notifications. “The Uber Partner app signals a new trip request with a flashing light in addition to the existing audio notification.”
  • Add a prompt for the rider’s destination. “Once a partner with this setting turned on accepts a ride, the rider will see a prominent screen asking for their destination.”
  • Show a message to let riders know the driver is deaf or hard of hearing.

Lead The Way

Widely-known companies that provide features like this pave the way for inclusion in our workplaces, our tech, and even our social interactions. Where it could have been easy for Uber to just encourage diverse hiring, they identified an opportunity to actively welcome capable drivers who are hard of hearing by ensuring their experience, and the experience of those drivers’ riders, is the best it can be.

This is what the Dignity & Respect Campaign’s Lead the Way initiative is truly about: recognizing and promoting our companies, institutions, communities and apps! who support the potential of ALL and treat others with dignity and respect.

You don’t have to be Uber to make a difference. Dignity and respect can start anywhere, big or small. How can your organization can help to make the world a better place?

Learn more this Uber accessibility feature here.


Are You Registered to Vote?

Vote America, Register to VoteWe have a number of initiatives here at the Dignity & Respect Campaign to Build Cultural Awareness, Stop the Violence, Prevent Bullying, and Lead the Way – but it’s October 2016, and one of our initiatives works singlehandedly to push all the others forward: the one where we encourage you to get out and Vote!

How to Register to Vote

First things first: October 11, 2016 is the last day to register to vote in the November 8th election. That means you can register ON October 11, too, so don’t panic!

If you’re not registered or you’re not sure if you are, you can visit vote.gov to find out and complete your registration online, if allowed by your state (Pennsylvania, where D&R Campaign is based, does allow online registration). USA.gov provides a list of requirements, instructions for in-person registration, mail application, and other options and information. Each state has its own voting rules and requirements, so be sure you’re correctly informed for your state.

Does it take a long time to register? That’s a common myth. With all the necessary credentials, you can often be approved and officially registered within about a week, and the majority of the work is the government’s, not yours.

Exercise Your Privilege!

While all U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions) are granted the right to vote, it should still be viewed as a privilege. Many minority men, and women of ALL ethnicities are still only one generation removed from having no voice. We must remember the sacrifices of our ancestors and take very seriously this privilege they fought so hard for us to have.

Resources for Citizens and Leaders

In collaboration with Diversity & Inclusion, we’ve created the “I Vote Because…” campaign. Download the flyer here to learn how you can spread the word and get out the vote. The message is this: we all represent different organizations, different parties, and different perspectives, but what we have in common is respect for differences and a commitment to get out the vote. Collectively we have a stronger voice. With ONE VOICE, we encourage you to cast ONE VOTE.

As a leader, no matter where you stand politically, you can make it known that voting is a privilege, a duty, and an action that COUNTS. If anyone needs convincing, Wikipedia has a great page on close election results.

And what can we all do? We can promote dignity and respect by using the facts and standing up and speaking out. Volunteer, attend, or support national and/or local efforts. Tell others how you did your part. Encourage others to join your efforts.  And to get that all started – make sure you’re registered to vote on November 8th!

Ladies Who Lead the Way

US Women's Soccer Team

Imagine it: you work for an organization that you love and that pays you well. You love the team you work with and even though the work is grueling and difficult, you enjoy it immensely. You dedicate yourself to both the company and your peers. You rise in the morning ready for the day’s challenges and you go to sleep at night feeling fulfilled.

But then you learn that another team in your organization – who does the exact same work as yours – is getting paid more. Significantly more. In fact, you are compensated only a quarter of what the other team is.

What do you do? How do you react? Do you fight for equality?


The Harsh Truth

This scenario might sound outrageous, but it’s a reality for the players who make up the US women’s soccer team. Despite their global success (three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships, for instance), these women are paid less than half of what the members of the men’s team are paid. According to goalkeeper Hope Solo, the men’s players “get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

Some people might attempt to explain this wage gap by making the argument that the men’s US soccer team draws in more dollars than the women’s since typically, more people watch male-dominated sports. But in 1999, when the women played the World Cup in the United States, they set records for both attendance and viewership. Then last year, the final World Cup women’s match between the US and Japan was seen by 25.4 million viewers on Fox, which broke yet another record for a men’s or women’s soccer game. Additionally, just last year alone, the women’s team raised $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team did. So why the difference in wage?


Ladies Leading the Way

Because of the consistent wage disparity between the women and men soccer players, five women on the team filed a lawsuit on behalf of their entire team. They are charging U.S. Soccer, the sport’s governing body, for wage discrimination; their case has been submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Carli Lloyd, the team’s MVP at the World Cup, stated in an interview: “We have been quite patient over the years with the belief that the federation would do the right thing and compensate us fairly.” Now she and a few of her teammates are bringing the issue to the public’s attention in order to call out the U.S. Soccer federation for allowing the wage gap to persist.


How You Can Lead the Way

By stepping up and filing a complaint, the five players of the US women’s soccer team are serving as champions – not only for their fellow team members and for other professional women athletes, but also for women in general. On average, women in the United States to date still make around 78 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Only by rallying together to talk about these disparities can progress be achieved. One way to participate in this specific issue is to sign this petition to voice your support for the US women’s team.

But aside from wage gaps, what other discrepancies are present in the workplace? What other inequalities are worth confronting – and are you, as an organization, prepared to do it?


This is what the Dignity & Respect Campaign’s Lead the Way initiative is truly about – both challenging and recognizing organizations, institutions, and even communities who treat others with dignity and respect. To join this initiative, be sure to sign up for our newsletters and stay current with our monthly projects and objectives.

Your organization can help to make the world a better place. Start today.

#LeadTheWay with Kindness

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”   -Ralph Waldo Emerson


In a world that seems to highlight conflict, violence, and tragedies over optimism and compassion, it becomes increasingly important to call attention to goodness when it is being spread. One such initiative is the unofficial holiday, Random Acts of Kindness Day, which typically falls on February 17th. Many organizations and groups in the past have actually promoted an entire week devoted to random acts of kindness, and developed resources to further that cause.  

But this year’s commemorative week looks a little different. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, one of the major organizations that usually leads the march on this endeavor, seems to have a different call to action brewing. Go to their homepage and instead of finding resources or information about how to participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week, you’ll find a massive bright orange banner that reads:  


“Let’s make 2016 the year of kindness.”


So instead of only promoting acts of kindness for one week or one day out of the year, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation seems to have focused their efforts on spreading thoughtfulness and love into all 365 days of the calendar year. As part of their mission, they are also promoting RAKtivists, or Random Acts of Kindness activists, to help develop a compassionate global community – which we feel is truly the ultimate example of a Lead the Way initiative.

At Dignity & Respect, Inc., we are excited by efforts that promote empathy and spread inclusion. Even though we support and celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day, we too believe that kindness should be a constant effort.


What Kindness Can Do

It’s true that we believe the spread of kindness and overall respect can make the world a better place for us all to live – but being kind to others can also serve our own overall wellness. In fact, performing acts of generosity has been proven to reduce the effects of stress. Some research has even been the impetus for physicians to recommend volunteer work to their patients as a way to increase health.

So where does one start? Spreading kindness can be as simple as buying a coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop. It can be as involved as making a commitment to donate time volunteering with a local nonprofit. It can be as easy as smiling at everyone you pass for an entire day – or a whole week. However you choose to incorporate kindness into your daily life, know how important it is. Know that you are playing your part to #LeadTheWay.