Taking the Pledge: October Is Dignity and Respect Month at Pitt

Issue Date: 
October 3, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh is participating in Dignity and Respect Month during October that is part of a broader year-round campaign that seeks to promote inclusion through behavioral and organizational change. University faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to make a simple pledge demonstrating their commitment to treating others the way they wish to be treated.

Pitt’s Office of Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Inclusion, along with the Staff Association Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, have been working to promote the broader campaign—the Dignity and Respect Campaign—on campus. They have held several pledge drives at the University over the past year, most recently during Freshman Orientation Week. Organizers extend an open invitation to Pitt’s individual schools and departments to hold a pledge drive within their units.

University faculty, staff, and students can “take the pledge” one of three ways: online at www.dignityandrespect.org; on Facebook at the Dignity and Respect Campaign page; or by texting “RESPECT” to 94253. The pledge simply states, “I, ____, will treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

“We, in the Office of Affirmative Action, Diversity and Inclusion, are so pleased that the University of Pittsburgh is a partner in this effort to create a more inclusive community. Many times we forget that the regular interactions we have with others can have the biggest impact. Treating everyone we encounter with dignity and respect is the foundation for appreciating and embracing our differences, and helps to make our University community a better place to live, learn, and work,” said Shari Manges, a diversity specialist in Pitt’s Office of Affirmative Action, Diversity Inclusion.

The Dignity and Respect Campaign began in 2008, when the Center for Inclusion at UPMC introduced an internal program, the Dignity and Respect Initiative, to health system employees. UPMC employees were encouraged to take a dignity and respect pledge—and were also asked to suggest behaviors that represent dignity and respect in the workplace. UPMC used the employee feedback to create “30 Tips of Dignity and Respect,” which laid the foundation for the current campaign.

Today, more than 20 Pittsburgh-area organizations and companies as well as organizations nationwide participate in the program. The campaign became a Pittsburgh Community Initiative in 2009 with a proclamation from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declaring October as Dignity and Respect Month in the city. The month offers an opportunity for individuals and organizations to engage in events, activities, and service projects.

But the hope is that that efforts are made year-round to meet the campaign’s goals, and at Pitt, they are, Manges said. In 2010, Linda Demoise, academic support coordinator for the INVESTING NOW program and tutoring coordinator for the Pitt EXCEL Program, both in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Cheryl Ruffin, an employee relations specialist in Pitt’s Office of Human Resources, were named Dignity and Respect Champions for the months of July and November, respectively.