A couple of months ago, I was very happy to join Legacy Business Cultures after several very stressful and disheartening months of searching for employment after my graduation from Cleveland State in May, 2011. I can’t even count how many interviews I went on and how many resumes I sent out in that period of time, but I didn’t seem to fit anywhere.

Throughout high school and college, I worked at the typical teenager/young adult jobs. There was a pizza place, a debt collection agency, and even a fancy restaurant in downtown Cleveland. They weren’t horrible jobs, and they paid alright, but I was usually miserable. I was treated like just another number in a high turnover position.

The pizza place hid me in the back because I wasn’t one of the pretty, perky, outgoing girls. The older women at the debt collection agency would ignore me when I said hello. And the restaurant downtown isolated me because I was shyer than the other hostesses. I never felt valued. I felt rejected just because I was a little different. The few respectful co-workers that I did encounter were the exception, not the rule.

I wondered if I would ever find a job that I loved and was also valued at. That’s why I am really fascinated with Legacy’s Connecting with Respect workshop. It teaches business professionals the foundations of respect and how to improve the culture in their workplace.  The program emphasizes the action of being curious instead of suspicious when one sees differences in another person. I find this idea incredibly important because for so long, I was merely seen and labeled as “the quiet girl” and any value and hard work I brought to the company was usually dismissed.

I think being able to see past these immediate labels and actually getting to know one’s co-workers is essential to a healthy culture in any organization. Dismissing someone just because they’re a little different could be detrimental and result in a great loss of talent.

Fairness, integrity, and respect should be taught and encouraged because as employee morale increases, so does the organization’s productivity. I’m very happy that Legacy practices what they preach and accepts me for who I am. Their faith in me enables me to do my best and take pride in what I do.  And I’m so glad that I can be a part of helping others create healthy and respectful workplaces as well.