Tone at the Top

Chicago Says No More CEO Breakfast

By Kristie Paskvan


Mesirow Chairman and CEO Richard Price, and CFO Kristie Paskvan with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, featured speaker at the Chicago Says No More CEO Breakfast at Mesirow Financial, January 31, 2017.

This January, I met with a number of CEOs about a new workplace initiative to assist employees affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. 1-in-3 women and 1-in-7[1] men will experience some sort of relationship violence in their lifetime. That means you and I both probably socialize or work with people that have been affected, but we just don’t know it, because most victims and survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence.

DV and SA survivors are three times more likely to be depressed or to miss workdays.[2]  There are 18.5 million mental healthcare visits annually due to intimate partner violence.

Companies across the U.S. spend upwards of $8.3 billion annually on absenteeism,[3] medical costs and lost productivity related to DV and SA. By implementing a workplace violence program that adds specific policies and training initiatives on DV and SA, companies can make a positive difference in the lives of these employees. Some organizations provide additional time-off for court appearances. I’m aware of a company that allows business units to pay for temporary housing.[4] And annual training for managers to educate them on how to confidentially refer employee issues is critical.

It takes leadership and vision to understand the long-term benefits of these policies. And that’s where CEOs, COOs and other company executives are critical in championing support for human resource departments to implement these initiatives. The “tone at the top” frequently sets the values that permeate an organization, and an executive suite that understands and embraces these difficult topics for the benefit of their employees will garner both accolades and a more productive workforce.

Kristie Paskvan, Chief Financial Officer of Mesirow Financial, is the Founder of Chicago Says No More.

If you are interested in learning more about the Chicago Says No More Workplace EAP initiative to help employers assist their employees affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, please contact

And, lend your voice to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault by taking the pledge at

[1] CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

[2] World Health Organization

[3] Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

[4] See blog by Mary E. Toomey, SPHR, a member of the Chicago Says No More Steering Committee, its Workplace Employee Assistance Program Task Force and Vice President of Human Resources at Bank of America;

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