IPS: A Place Where All Can Thrive

Category: Features

UT’s Institute for Public Service realizes its unique role in serving Tennesseans, and it is committed to doing so despite the many challenges the country is facing. 

With increasing racial tensions, IPS Vice President Herb Byrd III reminded employees of their role in promoting diversity throughout the Institute as well as the state.

“We have a role as educators, consultants and technical assistants within business, government and law enforcement systems to make a positive difference,” Byrd said. “We owe it to our country, our state, our customers and our co-workers who have endured untold discriminatory practices to change oppressive systems. We need a place where all can thrive.” 

In response to this call, the IPS Diversity Committee met via Zoom to discuss ways to make internal progress and contribute to the growth of IPS customers. The diversity committee crafted a message to employees that included how to have tough conversations with Black co-workers and provided resource links for ways to get involved with equity groups across the state. 

The diversity committee also created a movie club, similar to a book club, for IPS employees. The first movie shown was “Just Mercy,” which tells the story of world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson as he works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner. Employees registered to participate in a discussion on the movie and received HR 128 credit for participating. The diversity committee plans to suggest movies to watch throughout the year and schedule discussions for employees.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly impact the state, IPS Human Resources Manager Tomi Rogers offered support to employees through UT’s Employee Assistance Program, which is designed to provide free, confidential assistance to help employees and their families resolve problems that influence their personal lives or job performance. 

Through this program, all benefits-eligible UT employees have access to a wide range of resources for dealing with work/life balance, family issues, finances and more. It can provide support with whatever challenges may arise, including:

  • Depression, anxiety and stress
  • Family concerns
  • Financial issues
  • Living with chronic health conditions
  • Separation and divorce 
  • Grief and loss
  • Sleep issues 
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