More and more businesses and companies are beginning to recognize that what happens in the home can have a profound impact on what happens in the workplace.
Brandie de la Rosa has been a techy person for her whole career, with an extensive background in computer science, but she’s also always been very concerned about domestic violence and its effects on women, children, families, and communities. A year and a half ago, she brought those things together as she founded e3 Inspire to help train employers and employees to notice the signs of domestic violence, to provide a supportive environment for victims and survivors of domestic violence. E3 inspire also provides resources to those in danger while creating procedures to prevent and protect companies from dangerous situations.
“I did some investigating and I was finding that there wasn’t really anything like it … anywhere,” De la Rosa tells Madison365. “I did a lot of research and talked to people on how their companies handled this type of stuff. I did my due diligence to see if there was market need.”
And, as it turns out, there was a tremendous need. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men become victims of domestic abuse. Domestic violence has a huge impact on companies, that most are unaware of. If your employee is experiencing violence at home, it carries over to the workplace in a variety of ways that puts a damper on productivity.
“I found that there was a problem. And, as that IT [internet technology]-geared person I’m used to fixing problems. I knew it would be challenging, but that’s why I got into IT in the first place. This came naturally to me. Let’s figure this out. And it snowballed from there.”
Her E3inspire company educates companies on the impacts of trauma on the workplace. What it means to the bottom line, and how to cut costs. De la Rosa’s mission is to educate, empower, and engage – the three E’s
“Sometimes companies want to know how much this will cost them and I let them know that they are already paying for it,” de la Rosa says. “Here are the numbers of what you’re paying specific to domestic violence.
According to de la Rosa, companies lose $8.3 billion each year nationwide in lost revenue and health care cost associated with domestic violence, which is money that can be saved by putting employees first.
“Sometimes, companies will say, ‘Well, we don’t have a problem. We’ve never had a problem!’ But one in four women; one in seven men have been affected,” de la Rosa says. “If you have a company of a couple-hundred-plus, here are your chances. This is a ticking time bomb.”
“I talk to people about cutting costs, employer retention, and increasing productivity and letting them know what the real numbers are on how domestic violence impacts your workplace,” De la Rosa adds. “It’s engaging the entire company. It’s also putting them as a gold standard. That’s something they can brand when they are hiring employees. Just like mental wellness being a benefit. We give incentives for going to the gym. Well, this is mental wellness, as well, that you can put on your brand and market.”
But let’s back it all up for a second.
Before there was e3inspire, it all started with a domestic violence app that De la Rosa created back in 2014. This First National Resource Centric mobile app was a huge step forward to bringing about much-needed assistance to those who have experienced the trauma of an abusive relationship. It is disguised on a cellphone to provide information on things like shelters and emergency numbers to get help in dangerous situations.
“A domestic abuse pamphlet gets thrown away pretty quickly. If somebody does go to a shelter, they are given information in a pamphlet format and paperwork,” De La Rosa says. “The first thing that person will probably do when they leave is toss it because they don’t want that to be seen at home.”
Safety planning is a widely advocated intervention to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence and De la Rosa’s app makes it easy and secretive. The app includes immediate information, in English and Espanol, about shelters, legal information, safety plans, interactive features, and more. Currently, the app has information for four states – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Georgia. De la Rosa wants to have all 50 states.
The app gives you information that you need and safety tips if you are in trouble. It provides snippets of technology and a quiz to determine if you are in potentially a dangerous situation.
De la Rosa’s entrepreneurship – merging technology for the fight against domestic violence – is pretty unique.
“It’s definitely something I didn’t see myself doing when I was young,” laughs de la Rosa, who is originally from Rockford, Illinois. “I was kind of thrown into this world in so many ways. I had to figure out how I was going to use my powers for good, so to speak. My whole world was the IT world for 20 years, but at the end of the day when more and more things started happening, I was like: What can I do to make things better? What little piece can I possibly do?
“And I never thought about quitting my day job. And I never thought about starting my own company. I thought it would be something I would do on the side and that is where it was going to live,” she adds. “But then I started seeing more and more need and I started opening my eyes to things and I said, ‘Something’s gotta change.’ I can’t point to somebody else. I’m gonna do it.”
Having a lot of friends and people close to her who have been affected domestic violence has also inspired her work. “My sole purpose is to help the victims,” she says. “The by-product is helping the companies save money and supporting their staff.”
With e3 Inspire, she goes in and finds out what policies and procedures a company is already working with around domestic violence.
“It’s never easy to talk about, but it is getting easier. People are scared. Imagine if you are the vice president of a company and you are going through this … are you going to want to talk about it at work necessarily? You’re embarrassed … your position and all of this,” De la Rosa says. “But if it’s made acceptable by your employer and they tell you that you can come and talk about this and they will support you and this is how they will support you … that’s much different.”
De la Rosa has worked out some interesting partnerships with a couple organizations that are really making an impact on the community around domestic violence.
She works with College Hunks to help out women in need.
“There was a moving company in southern California that helps victims of domestic violence and I reached out when I first started my company to find out about them. They are very open. The CEO was this incredible woman – Scarlet Vaughn – and she was all about reaching out to the community,” De la Rosa says.
“At a drop of the dime, if something happens and a shelter or an organization reaches out to me where they have somebody who is, has housing but no furniture. Or they have housing and they need to get their furniture from their old place to their new place,” she continues. “A lot of time in an abusive situation, you are financially strapped. Literally, if something happened right this moment, I could call Scarlet and tell her: ‘We have a family; here’s what they’re looking for – We need two toddler beds, sofa, kitchen table’ and she will be on it right away.’ They are there delivering everything – rugs, lamps, you name it.”
Another one of those companies that she partners with is Fresh Safe Start. “They will pay the first month’s rent and the deposit. [Fresh Safe Start CEO] Becky Branton has partnerships with different places throughout Madison and in Lodi,” De la Rosa says. “They have partnerships with Piggily Wiggily to get groceries and household supplies. Again, if a woman leaves a scenario, she can get much-needed help.
“These are resources that I bring to the workplace. People don’t even know that they exist,” she adds.
As a proud Latina, De la Rosa is aware that in the last decade or so, Latinas have really begun to show their strength in the business world and the entrepreneurial world. But they still lag in numbers overall. It’s changing, but it’s still a white man’s world.
“It’s a very tough road being Latina … we are viewed differently. I was prepared for that,” De la Rosa says. “Being in the IT world as a woman and a minority was tough to begin with. It’s a man’s world. I walk in and they’re like, “Who’s the real person that’s going to set up our system?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re looking at her.’
“In the beginning, people doubted if I could pull this off. You know you have to deal with corporate-level people, right? Once they see me in action, they know that she’s got that,” she adds. “But the expectations of a Latina – and I hate to say this – is that you’re working in a restaurant; you’re working as a maid. You’re doing other things … not at the corporate level, much less starting your own thing.”
De la Rosa has been part of the Latino Chamber of Commerce’s incubator program for the last year, something she says has been really helpful. “I’ve been part of a lot of chambers throughout Illinois when I lived there. Chambers were always kind of old-school to me. This chamber is about full-on business development,” she says. “They have their emerging business development center. They immediately access what your idea is; what you are doing and talk about where you are looking to go. I’m resourceful, but there were a ton of questions I had. They are able to help in so many ways.”
They put her in front of the right people. “Here are some key people for your business that we can put you in front of. The connections were tremendous,” de la Rosa says. “The Chamber helped me understand how to deal with the financial pieces, how I was going to grow, what my projections were. Again, they put me in front of the right people. Mentoring. It blew my mind. I plan to stay with the Chamber long-term.”
The Latino Chamber has been helping her to grow her business e3 Inspire. De la Rosa says that job creation is a goal with her company.
“In the next couple of years, I hope to have hired a good handful of employees. I want to be able to create a seed foundation to help other start-ups, especially minority start-ups,” she says. “I want to continue to build out the brand.
Of course, I want to continue to keep helping victims. Within the next three years, I hope to be in every state. I’m already in four, so I want to continue to grow that,” she adds, speaking about her app. “At some point, I really want to give back, too. I want to help others and mentors others. I want to give back to this community.”