At Cherokee Nation, we are committed to creating a safe, caring, and supportive workplace. As the region’s employer of choice, we know that safeguarding the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of our staff is important to the entire community.
With over 70% of the Cherokee Nation workforce made up of women, one issue we take very seriously is the prevention of domestic violence. I am pleased to report that over 4,250 employees, or approximately 98% of our workforce, have completed the domestic violence training course created by the Cherokee Nation Human Resources Department. Going forward, all new employees will receive the training as soon as they are hired.
The national numbers are staggering: acts of domestic violence occur every 15 seconds across the country, 8 million work days are lost each year due to domestic violence, and 4 out of 5 American Indians – women and men – have experienced violence in their lifetime. A 2016 study found that more than one in three Native American and Alaska Native women had experienced violence in the past year.
Then, with the COVID-19 pandemic upending our routines and isolating many families, we saw domestic violence rates soar. Promoting healthy relationships for employees and their families has become more important than ever. That’s why I signed an executive order last year requiring heightened security measures for all Cherokee Nation employees.
As part of this effort, we have created the comprehensive training required, as well as a new Cherokee Nation Human Resources Department Self-Reporting Policy. Many of us face complicated home and family situations. Training is therefore essential to manage these problems with empathy and efficiency. By educating ourselves, we can intervene before a situation escalates.
The Cherokee Nation training explained how to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence and prevent abuse to co-workers, friends and loved ones. The sessions also guided survivors through the steps they can take to get to safety and seek help for themselves and their children.
In addition to helpful training, employees received information about internal resources, such as the ONE FIRE Employee Assistance Program and Victim Services Program, as well as external resources, such as the regional non-profit organization. nonprofit Help in Crisis and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
This is a difficult and sensitive issue, but we tackle it head-on through education, conversation and victim services. As Cherokees, our culture teaches us to strive to live in harmony and with respect for one another. As human beings, we all deserve to live and work without fear.
My administration is dedicated to providing protective coverage for all Cherokees and those on our reservation in northeast Oklahoma. We do this through our criminal justice system when necessary, but also by setting up support networks to identify and prevent dangerous situations before they escalate.