“I made the decision to change my life.”

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On today’s episode of Up To Speed, producer Jess Bonardi shared the following updates:

V Teamer Profile: Michael Herbert

Imagine hiding something for 47 years.

Michael Herbert, Senior Director of Operations Support for Global Network & Technology, has lived for decades with a bone disease called hereditary multiple exostoses. The disease caused bone tumors to form throughout his body, impairing his ability to walk.

When Michael was growing up, he and his family didn’t talk about the condition in wider circles, but it couldn’t be completely hidden in public. “I know what it’s like to be treated differently based on how you look,” Michael recalled. “It had a huge impact on me in terms of my confidence. The feeling of being less than.

During his 27 years at Verizon, Michael did his best to conceal his condition. He often wore long-sleeved shirts to hide his arms. “If we were in a conference room, I would try to be the last to leave, lest someone walk behind me and see the way I walk.”

Later he had a daughter, who underwent several surgeries to treat the same disease. The pandemic gave him time to reflect on the emotional weight he carried and the example he was setting. “I realized that I couldn’t go on like this. I had to stop letting him control me. It’s not healthy for me. It’s not healthy for my daughter.

He started thinking about his condition in a positive light and talking about it openly. “I spoke to my leadership team at Verizon and received tons of support and encouragement.”

Michael also made the decision to become a community leader with the ADVANCE Employee Resource Group. “It’s not easy to talk about a disability, but if I can help one person who is going through something similar, and get them to change the way they think about it, and get them to present themselves as her authentic self, so that’s a huge accomplishment.

Michael is grateful to have made this difficult but extremely positive change in his life. “Verizon has created a safe place for me and words cannot express how grateful I am.”

He has words of encouragement for people who struggle with a disability or feel self-conscious about any aspect of their appearance: “It’s good to be different.”

Click here to learn more about ADVANCE and how you can get involved.

Verizon wins inclusiveness award

Our V Teamers work every day to create a more inclusive and equitable world, and we’re proud to announce that, for 2022, CAREERS & the DISABLED has named Verizon one of the Top 50 Employers for People with Disabilities.

Launch of disability innovation

This week, we launched the second cohort of our Forward for Good Disability Innovation Accelerator. Seven startups were selected for the accelerator, based on the solutions that leverage 5G, MEC and other advanced technologies they are developing for the disability community. And what makes it even cooler? Five of the groups have founders or leaders who live with a disability. Startups receive $50,000 to support building and scaling their innovations, as well as technology coaching, expert mentorship, and connections with potential partners and funders.

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