At the time of writing, I am in Phoenix, Arizona, enjoying some rather good weather. Not a holiday, but, together with Validium’s co-founder Anne Payne, attending the 2013 Employee Assistance Professionals World Conference. With members in over 40 countries around the world, the Annual Conference is a great opportunity to meet with other professionals in the EAP industry and to learn more about the similarities and the challenges of supporting people working in different environments, languages and cultures. It is vital that we keep up with industry best practice and developments, and share ideas on delivering the most effective support in today’s ever-changing workplace. To this end, we’ve had representatives at the conference every year since 1998.
Conference proceedings began when we were privileged to listen to, and later to meet, Darrell Scott, who presented the Keynote Speech, “Rachel’s Challenge: Answering Violence with Kindness and Compassion”. Rachel Joy Scott was the first student killed in the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Rachel was just 17 years old when she was murdered and her story is about how her small but deliberate acts of kindness had profound effects on those she touched. Her story provides an inspiring example of how small, deliberate acts of kindness start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that empowers us to positively impact our workplaces, schools and communities. Rachel’s challenge exists to equip and inspire people to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of kindness, respect and compassion and there are people in every workplace that could learn from it. Rachel’s father, Darrell, founded the “Rachel’s Challenge” organisation and has personally addressed more than 5 million people in live scenarios (19 million when you include the appearance of Darrel’s family and helpers) worldwide as well as many more millions through TV shows such as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live”, “CNN” and “The Today Show”. Since its inception, 8 school shootings and 500 suicides have been averted. At the end of Darrell’s presentation, many seasoned professionals were struggling to maintain their composure. It’s worth having a look at Rachel’s web site; it seems she was an amazing young woman: www.rachelschallenge.org
A session on Domestic Violence reminded us of one of our own initiatives at Validium when we recently supported an EAPA UK branch initiative, involving the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV). This was to raise awareness of this subject and to help organisations with supporting employees affected by this issue.
A particular highlight of the event was when our dear friend and industry icon, Bernard E Beidel, CEAP, EAP Director for the US House of Representatives, was awarded the EAP Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award – congratulations, Bern!
At this time of year, the calendar seems to be full of conferences and events with the recent Employee Benefits Live show at London Olympia and the CIPD Exhibition in Manchester in early November. If you are attending the CIPD event, please drop by our stand (386) – we would be pleased to warmly welcome you and even perhaps provide some free consultancy on how we can help with any current or future behavioural health needs.