Meet Peter Church, AVANGRID CHRO & RAINN | #SAAPM
Meet Peter Church, Chief Human Resources Officer at AVANGRID and member of the National Leadership Council of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM) and to stand in solidarity, the Avangrid Foundation has become the newest Foundation partner to RAINN, the nation’s largest support network for victims of sexual violence. Peter answers a few questions about his involvement with RAINN and explains more about this important issue during #SAAPM.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your role at AVANGRID?
I lead the Human Resources and Corporate Administration functions at AVANGRID. Very broadly, Human Resources at our company is responsible for the attraction, development and retention of our workforce in support of our business strategy while supporting a culture and work environment of sustainability, innovation and growth. I joined the company in the fall of 2018, having most recently come from a healthcare company based in Minnesota. I was born and raised in Connecticut and have been in Human Resources for more than 20 years.
How did you come to be associated with RAINN?
Scott Berkowitz, President of RAINN, and I met several years ago. Through him, I had the opportunity to meet other members of RAINN along with some amazing survivors. Their organization has been evolving quite a bit these past several years as numerous high profile social issues have come to the forefront of public discussion, including the #MeToo movement. The services RAINN offers as an organization have grown along with their need for additional support.
The current numbers tell an unacceptable story about sexual assault in our country. Every 92 seconds there is an assault. One out of every six women is a victim of rape or attempted rape. RAINN has been there to offer their services and care for people I know personally and professionally.
Why does RAINN matter? Why does it matter to you?
RAINN stands at the epicenter of a social crisis that transcends all parts of our country. They offer education and advocacy along with support for survivors when, at many times support is tough to find.
One of the amazing services RAINN offers is their National Sexual Assault hotline. For anyone seeking information or support, the line is safe, free and anonymous. The service is available both via phone and online.
The individuals who take those calls are on the front lines, each and every day. RAINN matters for many reasons but, on any given day, those phone calls are being answered. They offer that essential element of care and support to whomever is calling during those moments that matter.
How is addressing sexual violence in its many forms relevant to the workplace?
The basic and foundational expectations of a workplace are that it is a respectful work environment, free from sexual harassment. Each of us, regardless of where we work, should be able to feel comfortable and safe in our workplace.
Experiencing sexual violence of any kind, including sexual harassment, often carries long lasting negative effects. It causes trauma and negative emotional, physical, or mental health issues. Survivors of sexual violence often experience intense shame and guilt because of feeling they are somehow to blame for the assault or harassment. There are also many mental health effects associated with experiencing sexual violence, including post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety and depression.
One aspect of the trauma that comes from sexual violence that can be difficult for survivors to heal from is the profound loss of control over their own bodies. Experiencing sexual violence in the workplace can be especially difficult because of workplace hierarchy.
It is both essential and a great responsibility we have to ensure ongoing safety in our work environments.
The Avangrid Foundation has a commitment to promoting human rights and justice. The partnership with RAINN further strengthens efforts to address issues of sexual assault both locally and nationally across all the communities we serve. We envision a world where we can further educate our employees to be part of a global solution. Education and awareness are essential for a global call to action.
The Avangrid Foundation is dedicated to support of related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals including establishing public-private partnerships, encouraging sustainable communities, and promoting good health and well-being.