Founded in 2008, the Dignity & Respect Campaign aims to create a better world for all by improving understanding of differences of background, religion, and socioeconomic status to change individuals’ behaviors.
The Dignity & Respect Campaign is a social enterprise, working to tackle societal problems in an effort to improve communities; its profits are reinvested back into the business or local communities.
Although the campaign is rooted in diversity and inclusion, Candi Castleberry Singleton, founder and CEO of Dignity & Respect Inc., wanted to “cast a wider net.” By creating training programs with a broader focus, she hopes to build cultural awareness, encourage respectful interactions, and help individuals find common ground with those who are different from them.
“We didn’t want people to feel like [the campaign] was something they had already experienced,” Singleton says, “so we started using the words ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ because that is something all people want.”
The organization works primarily with schools, communities, and workplaces that wish to be proactive in their inclusion efforts to underscore the value of engaging in respectful interactions.
“We provide an opportunity [for people] to think about how [they] engage with others who have differences of opinion, and how to do that in a way that leaves people feeling whole,” says Singleton.
Participants must first pledge to treat everyone with dignity and respect in daily interactions — an oath they demonstrate by committing to practicing the campaign’s 30 Tips of Dignity & Respect. These practices emphasize that even the smallest actions can have the biggest impact; tips include “be flexible,” “lend a hand,” and “remember, we all make mistakes,” among others.
Reinforcing the tips are the campaign’s 7 Pillars of Dignity & Respect, which focus on individual, team, and organizational engagement. The pillars represent behaviors that help to create an inclusive environment. Workshop facilitators present each pillar as an individual module, with each one building on its predecessors.
While the campaign’s customized training program is offered for a fee, its 30 Tips and 7 Pillars are free on its website, as are videos to help guide viewers.
Although Singleton says most people want to treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve, she thinks we can all do a little better. She also believes that the training the campaign provides is critical for instilling a passion for inclusion in young people. For this reason, public schools can participate at no cost.
By educating others on the importance of respect in all interactions, the campaign hopes to not only change individuals’ behaviors, but also ensure that all people feel welcome and included in all environments.
“In some cases, we engage with someone who finally feels like they have a voice or that they finally exist at an organization,” she adds. “It is those phone calls, emails, and testimonials that make me say, ‘This is why we do what we do.’”●
Lauren Healey is a contributing writer for INSIGHT Into Diversity. For more information on the Dignity & Respect Campaign, visit dignityandrespect.org.