By Ralph Reid, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and President of the Sprint Foundation
It is shocking to know that during a single 24-hour survey period in 2011 more than 67,000 victims of domestic violence in the United States found refuge in emergency shelters or received some other assistance to escape their dire circumstances [2011 National Census of Domestic Violence Services]. Experts tell us that the problem remains persistently prevalent today.
The statistic became personal for us at Sprint recently when we learned that one of our customers, a domestic violence abuse survivor, asked Sprint for assistance with her account. Initial discussions with us did not provide her with a resolution that satisfied her needs. The brave survivor then worked through Change.org to encourage Sprint to make sure other survivors of domestic violence who want to separate their account from an abuser’s account would receive the help they need more readily and consistently.
Sprint did not take this customer’s experience lightly. We worked with her to resolve her situation and then determine what we could do to help others.
Our existing policies allowed for customers in these situations with special circumstances to receive accommodations. We realized, however, that we could make this clearer for our representatives. We took quick action to add to the support information used by our customer care teams. We are reinforcing to our employees that domestic violence is one of the circumstances for which a customer would qualify for special consideration.
We are striving to do more. Domestic violence is a serious social issue, and encouraging heightened awareness is among the ways we can do our part to end it. We will get there. The steps we are taking in this direction include educating all Sprint employees about the prevalence of domestic violence and the resources available to assist those affected by it. We have shared information via our employee intranet, communications with our managers and banners placed prominently on our work sites.
We are proud to be partners with and support other organizations addressing this issue. Over the past 20 years, the Sprint Foundation has given more than $1.1 million to various domestic violence prevention organizations throughout the nation. Some of those include the Hope House, Rose Brooks Center, Inc. and the Chicago Abused Women Coalition.
Sprint has a long history of putting the safety of our customers, employees and other community members first. We see this every day with programs such as 4NetSafety, our free Internet-safety program for teens and tweens. Families and educators are encouraged to learn more at www.4NetSafety.com
. In addition, our Focus on Driving program (www.sprint.com/focusondriving
) encourages drivers to remain safer behind the wheel. We are committed to protecting the privacy of our customers and we have products and services that can give lower-income, elderly and disabled customers access to life-saving emergency services.
Wireless communications can be a catalyst for change. Recently, cellphones and wireless technology provided a lifeline during political uprisings and in the aftermath of deadly natural disasters. In the case of domestic violence, wireless communications can be a lifeline for victims and survivors, as well.
The way we use our wireless devices has made them more personal than ever before. We realize it is imperative for wireless carriers to earn the trust of our customers. Sprint always will strive to make positive changes, generate awareness of important social issues and do the right thing.