Sojourner House Executive Director took part in Women & Workplace Wellness panel discussion

By Lindsey Hayakawa

Jan. 25, 2021

Self-care. Work-life balance.  Effective coping strategies.  Addressing harassment.

All of these are crucial topics to discuss. And that they were, during “Women & Workplace Wellness,” a recent virtual panel discussion hosted by Ola Jackson, owner of Onyx Women Network (OWN).

The candid discussion, sponsored by Highmark and Allegheny Health Network, took place on Dec. 29. “Our Women and Workplace Zoom event was so badly needed at this time.  It turned out to be one of the most successful online events that we had.  The response great,” said Jackson.

One of the panel participants: Sojourner House’s very own Executive Director, De’netta Benjamin-Miller.

 “De’netta Benjamin-Miller brought so much insight to our attendees,” said Jackson.  “I was so impressed with her presentation.  She was so knowledgeable about the needs of so many women who simply don’t know where to turn to get support and resources on self-care and work-life balance.”

Led by moderator Pretty Kitty On Ya Radio Brown, the panel also included Elizabeth A. Carter, Ph.D., Director of Market Segment Finance at Highmark; and Lory Janelle Dance, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Associate Professor of Sociology and Ethnic Studies, and Associate Director of the Institute for Ethnic Studies.

The panel first discussed the definition of self-care and how to incorporate it into the workplace. 

Benjamin-Miller defined self-care as “being vulnerable enough to talk about or express your feelings and problems.”  She also suggested creating a ‘self-care kit’ to keep in the office or workspace so that one can always be prepared to provide self-care. Dance elaborated by recommending incorporating self-care that fits you and to find people that are supportive of you. 

Viewers submitted questions via the Zoom chat.  One notable question asked for advice for someone who is not allowed to work from home when needed, while juggling elderly caregiving and child care. 

Carter advised, “Talk to your supervisor about what you are dealing with and how it impacts your workflow, yet ensure that the work will still be done.”  Benjamin-Miller suggested talking with Human Resources if your supervisor is not helping with a solution.

“HR will work with you to create a schedule that works for both you and your employer,” Benjamin-Miller said, also mentioning the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to give time off to employees caring for a loved one who has a serious medical condition.

Last but not least, the panelists were asked how to address sexual harassment at work when you feel scared and intimidated?  All three panelists offered the same advice: Speak with your supervisor, and use your voice to seek justice.