10.17.2016People

“My disability doesn’t define me”

By: Prasanthi Pavuluri

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 20 percent of people in the U.S. have a disability.  To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, we’ll be sharing stories, videos, social and multimedia to recognize the important role disabilities play in the workforce. #InclusionWorks

Disabilities play an important role in the work force, but they don’t define everyone who has one.

“I’m an employee who contributes to the company’s success,” said Rhonda Bingel, a supervisor  of business operations for public policy and law. “Verizon doesn’t look at me as a person in a wheelchair."

We spoke with Rhonda about the role disabilities play in her daily life at Verizon.

How would you describe the culture at Verizon?

I love working here. I feel privileged to work for a company that respects and values my ideas. It’s a powerful connection that I see in action every day. Where else can you find a community of great people who are passionate about helping others and who have the support to do so?

How has Verizon supported your career development?

I joined the company in 2003 and Verizon has given me all of the support I need to develop my career, including earning my bachelor’s degree and my pursuit of two master’s degrees. That demonstration of commitment stems from understanding the power of a diverse workforce. Who we are goes well beyond our gender, race, education, sexual orientation, or if we have a disability.

I’m responsible for managing Verizon’s legal support in eleven states. It’s a big responsibility. I may have a physical disability, but who I am and what I can do is all about the whole package I bring to the company every day.

How would you describe diversity & inclusion at Verizon?

I truly hope this is evident to everyone. Diversity and inclusion strengthens every part of our business from hiring and building strong teams, to using diverse suppliers that support local economies, to developing products and services that improve how our customers live, work and play.

What do you want your peers to know?

Some people’s first reaction to me is to move out of my way or offer special assistance. I’m grateful that everyone cares. It shows compassion, but I don’t want empathy or special treatment. I’m passionate about my job. Through the support of the Verizon family, I’ve been given the freedom to truly shine. I believe my peers who have less obvious disabilities would say the same. I want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.

About the author(s): 
Prasanthi Pavuluri works in employee communications at Verizon.