Diversity Network Spotlight: Disability & Allies
In 2008, Travelers created Diversity Networks — voluntary organizations led by employees dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. Open to all employees, the networks help foster the retention, development and success of our employees through networking, mentorship and community volunteer opportunities.
We recently sat down with members of our Disability & Allies Diversity Network to learn more about the impact of their involvement.
Claim Account Executive Tara DiBilio pours drive and passion into the Disability & Allies Diversity Network (D&A DN) at Travelers. Residing in Dallas, Texas, Tara has left an everlasting mark on the program.
The D&A DN originally caught her attention because of her degree in education and her interest in the neurodiverse community. She is now the Learning and Development Co-Lead for the D&A DN and currently spearheading an American Sign Language program for all eight Travelers Diversity Networks. She also attended the Disability:IN conference where she and two other employees accepted the DEI 100 Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion honor for the fifth year in a row on behalf of Travelers. She says the conference has expanded her knowledge and understanding to an even greater degree. Shortly after joining the D&A DN, Tara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her personal experience led her to create the MS group within the DN which serves as a support system for herself and other members that have or know loved ones with the condition. She says, “It created the desire in me to become much more involved.”
Since her enrollment, Tara says her involvement has completely changed her perspective on disabilities and everyday life. It’s become important to her to make sure that even newer members within the DN feel included enough to share the same sentiment. She assures, “I have a deeper understanding of the need to spread acceptance, empathy, and a safe place for everyone.”
State Product Director Saphire Hathorne, from Ricardson, Texas, connects her personal life to her participation in two Diversity Networks at Travelers.
As a black woman, she found a supportive community within the Black & African American & Allies Diversity Network that gave her a platform to discuss and overcome challenges in the workplace. Her firm commitment to our Disability & Allies Diversity Network originated from her desire to learn how to best prepare her son with Williams Syndrome for the corporate and social world post-high school. She says, “After he got out of high school it was very difficult for him to find a job, even though I knew the skillset he had.”
She is constantly inspired by working with others who face similar challenges to her son and do not let their disabilities hold them back from achieving their goals. She says, “I hope to one day see more employers realize that a person’s abilities are far more important in the workplace than their disability.”
Since joining the D&A DN, Saphire has developed strong relationships in and out of the company. She’s had the opportunity to be mentored by senior executives and finds it immensely rewarding to volunteer. She also had the chance to attend the Disability:IN conference amongst her peers.
Saphire reminds us, “We’re all human beings. Everybody has something to contribute to this world. I’m glad I have the opportunity to work for a company that encompasses values of people with different walks of life.”
Though he is a loyal member of all eight Diversity Networks, Alan Wirkman has developed a personal and profound connection with Travelers’ Disability & Allies Diversity Network. Appointed affinity coach of the D&A DN, he is constantly creating new strategies to make a difference.
As a parent with a child that has a neurodiverse disability, Alan was motivated to learn more about how to support his family at home and at work. He says, “You spend most of your days at work and the people that you work with become a part of your family. It’s important to understand the challenges they have and to learn about experiences that you may share.”
Alan’s leadership position within the DN has allowed him to grant and receive incredible opportunities. He recently attended the Disability:IN conference. At the conference, he was able to interview people with disabilities and prepared them for a successful job interview. Alan says, “We have to be understanding of accommodations. We need more people comfortable with sharing the accommodations they need. It’ll change our culture, and we will continue to have some really strong talent.”
Alan continues to grow his awareness within the disability community. As a parent, a colleague, a mentor, and a leader, he understands that his support and compassion towards others can foster change and create a safe place in the world and the workplace for people with disabilities to be unapologetically themselves.