Conscious Organizations Put People First… Employees, Customers and All Families
Written by: Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
May 18, 2022
Advisory Board Member and family survivor, Elizabeth Turner is featured in the upcoming Introductory Course for the Certificate in International Humanitarian Assistance Response™, coming summer 2022 from the FAERF Institute. Elizabeth’s husband, Simon died in the 9/11 attacks in New York. Elizabeth was six months pregnant at the time with their first child, William. Elizabeth’s story is on video and used in Higher Resources and Aviem International’s Care Team Training. Additionally, Elizabeth has shared much about her recovery in various articles and presentations in her work with the Foundation. 
In this week’s Consciousness@Work, we highlight selected comments from Elizabeth’s recent interview. She discusses how she sees a business organization’s role and responsibility regarding their Humanitarian Assistance Response in the workplace.
CVC: Why should a corporation have a Humanitarian Assistance Response plan?
ET: An organization should have a plan because it shows they understand that their employees are their capital (resource). It does not matter what product, brand, or service they are selling. It is the people within the business that actually deliver to the customers and to the business owners, day in and day out. Employees know when they are working for an organization that cares about them.
Employees can read between the lines. In my personal experience, as an HR Director and working now as a psychotherapist, I see when employees know that an employer cares about them. They know whether they as employees are first, or if money and finances are considered more important. In the post-pandemic environment, it is crucial for employees to know how their employer feels about them. Some employees felt supported during the pandemic and some felt abandoned by their employers.
CVC: Describe the underlying philosophy that leaders in an organization should have toward responding to their own workplace trauma?
ET: Putting people first should be the philosophy of a company when responding to a trauma involving their workplace. As a former HR Director, a survivor, and now a therapist, I know what it is like to feel that you are a number on a payroll of a corporation. If leaders have the philosophy that people come first before a trauma occurs, the foundation for the response is already set.
If they recognize that every single employee who walks through the door is a person with a family and who has emotional attachments, the philosophy is set for whatever comes their way.
To further her discussion of how companies best support families following a disaster as part of the above question, Elizabeth referenced her own situation when her husband died.
Putting families first at the start of a traumatic situation is more important than the other processes a company may have in place for crisis response. In the traumatic situation where I was involved, the company leaders were on the phone and contacted all of the families without hesitation. The Board of Directors were all on the phone before HR team members could contact us. They were people who knew my husband. They did not get around a conference table to plan how they were going to respond to the families, they just got busy and contacted us.
They reached out and they were honest. They said, “This is horrific and we don’t know what we are going to do or how we are going to do it, but we are going to do this all together.” They then went to meet the families in their homes. They talked to us about every single thing, necessary in this time period. And even a year later they talked to us about what we would like to do as an organization about the anniversary. Families were first and any other decision had to come second.
Because of this, when they did feel they had made a mistake, the families still felt they were part of the dialogue. Nothing was given to us as a dictate. So even when things were wrong, the communication channels held.
CVC: What should an organization include in its Humanitarian Assistance Response plan?
ET: Communication, communication, communication—you need to have the communication right from the start— direct face-to-face contact with people. First and foremost, families need to have a point of contact. And it is important if the CEO has communications with the family, bringing other people in from different departments to help with various issues.
This does not mean the CEO needs to be in communication with the family every single day, but the CEO needs to be communicating with the family in the first couple of days. And while they don’t have to know all of the answers, it is important to explain what is being done to find the answers. It is important for the company to introduce the families to other agencies that are bring brought in to help the families work through the process.
These comments and more of Elizabeth’s interview will appear throughout all seven courses which comprise the certificate. True to our brand, survivors, along with business and industry HSR™ leaders will join together with other subject matter experts to present a well-rounded view on the topic of International Humanitarian Assistance Response.