CONTINUE YOUR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY
As you plan your activities and commitments for the balance of 2021, you're invited to take advantage of the ongoing opportunities RLF is committed to providing so that you may continue your leadership development journey!
Throughout the remainder of 2021, RLF is offering Continuing Education Events (CEEs) which are great opportunities for you to reconnect, recharge and renew. The currently planned CEEs throughout the year include:
1. Any RLF grad wanting to refer someone for a 2022 RLF program must email that person’s name to RLF Administrator Joanne Jackowiec (firstname.lastname@example.org). The email should contain:
2. Joanne will process / track the request by:
**The $500 Referral Award will not qualify if the candidate name was previously submitted by an RLF sales representative, RLF facilitator, RLF Alumni, or large company.
by KIMBERLY SHARP
RLF was a profoundly life-changing experience for me; I rediscovered my authentic self, found my purpose and was welcomed into a community that I remain connected to today. I struggled with hearing loss for some time but never spoke about it until I was back in the safe space of RLF during a Continuing Education Event in 2019. I would have never found the courage to share my story publicly without RLF.
I am sharing my story in hopes of ending the stigma of being deaf or hard of hearing.
DISCOVERING I WAS DIFFERENT
Like many children, I received a hearing test in elementary school and was told I had nerve deafness. I didn’t really know what that meant, and my parents and teachers took no extraordinary measures on my behalf. I learned to live with my mild hearing loss until six years ago, when I began to use the extra volume functionality on my cell phone, lean into the speakerphone to hear during conference calls, and ask coworkers to repeat themselves. Business functions like networking events and dinners became difficult to navigate. I could no longer deny that my hearing loss, which was stable for most of my life, had drastically deteriorated.
RECEIVING A PROPER DIAGNOSIS
I am fortunate to live outside Boston, where I have access to Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE), an international center for treatment and the world's largest vision and hearing research center. At 40 years old I was diagnosed with moderate sensorineural hearing loss; a permanent and progressive hearing loss that occurs when the delicate nerve fibers of the inner ear are damaged. This diagnosis was difficult to receive – thoughts immediately flooded my mind… Would I lose my ability to hear completely? How long would that take? How difficult is it to learn ASL (American Sign Language)? How would I communicate with my family and friends? Would I forget how to speak if I couldn’t hear anything? Could I continue to work?… the list was endless. It took me time to process my diagnosis and come to terms with it.
My team at MEE got to know me. Understanding my lifestyle as a consultant and my hobbies outside of work aided in the development of my treatment plan. My plan included devices (hearing aids and noise cancelling headphones), as well as therapies and medications to help with my tinnitus and significant balance issues.
ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES
In my effort to learn more about the deaf and hard of hearing community I quickly realized that I am one of the lucky ones. I have access to and the financial means to receive ongoing treatment and have consistent full-time employment. My experience is drastically different from what most people in the community face.
These statistics are eye-opening, but they don’t begin to explain the mental and emotional impact hearing loss has on many members of the community. Studies conducted by the National Deaf Center show that deaf individuals experience social‐emotional difficulties at a rate as high as two to three times that of their hearing peers. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonverbal communication, such as body language accounts for 55% of total communication and 38% is related to tone – leaving just 7% for the spoken word. While masks have become common place as a matter of ensuring public health and flattening the COVID curve; they significantly compound the social isolation that exists in the deaf and hard of hearing community. So much of living an active life in a hearing world stems from an ability to comprehend facial expressions and to read lips. If you have a deaf or hard of hearing friend or colleague, try wearing a clear or “smile” mask like the ones from ClearMask when you are with them.
BE AN ADVOCATE
The working deaf and hard of hearing community face many challenges; by educating yourself you can become and advocate and together we can provide a more inclusive workplace. Here are a few simple suggestions to implement in your company:
Leading with empathy and kindness is more important than it’s ever been before. RLF gave me the tools to feel confident in showing up at work as my authentic self each day. On this journey, I’ve learned that being inclusive means creating an environment where everyone feels the same sense of belonging, where our differences are viewed as assets and not liabilities. I hope that as a community of RLF graduates and business leaders we remain grounded in the core principles of RLF; demonstrating the courage to humanize our workplaces by staying curious and learning from each other while sharing our own unique experiences.
Kimberly Sharp is an RLF Facilitator , a Senior Consulting Manager for Rizing Consumer Industries, and a Northeast RLF 2017 Graduate.
As a Senior Consulting Manager with Rizing Consumer Industries, Kimberly is the data practice lead working with companies as they embark on their own data journeys. Kimberly provides executive education and mentoring to new data leaders by imparting the lessons she learned along the way and she does it with the singular purpose of unlocking data’s value as a strategic asset. In addition to her advisory work with Rizing, Kimberly is actively engaged with the data community. She is highly regarded as a thought leader – publishing articles and speaking at various industry events. Kimberly is a member of the Society of Information Management and ASUG’s Enterprise Information Management Think Tank.
Passionate about increasing the opportunities for women in IT and Retail, Kimberly founded Rizing’s first employee resource group, WIT (Women in Technology) whose vision is to, “accelerate the leadership path for Rizing women so that they can reach their full potential in an inclusive workplace.” She is also an active member of the Network of Executive Women. Stay connected with Kimberly on LinkedIn.
RLF Alumni across the U.S. gathered for a number of virtual Continuing Education Events (CEE's) throughout 2020-21, and collectively engaged in deep discussion and reflection based upon topical books chosen by the organizers of each CEE. Check out these excellent leadership development books selected for multiple CEE's across the country during the past year ...
Click here to view previously-published "Leadership Tips" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.
Click here to view previously-published "Book Suggestions" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.