skip navigational linksDOL Seal - Link to DOL Home Page
Photos representing the workforce - Digital Imagery© copyright 2001 PhotoDisc, Inc.
October 10, 2008    DOL Home > ODEP > New Freedom Initiative > Circle of Champions - 2007   

Information Exchange - October 25, 2007

Circle of Champions October 25, 2007 meeting

Shirley Davis, Director of Diversity Initiatives, (standing) welcomed Circle of Champions participants, including ODEP Acting Assistant Secretary Karen M. Czarnecki (center) and ODEP Special Assistant Loretta Herrington (right) to SHRM headquarters for the semi-annual information exchange on October 25, 2007. SHRM, which is an ODEP Alliance partner, has hosted the meetings for the past two years.

SHRM/ODEP Alliance Update
Presented by Shirley Davis, Director, Diversity Initiatives, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

The SHRM/ODEP Alliance has resulted in the following:

A new mentoring initiative

  • The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and SHRM are collaborating to host a Groundhog Job Shadow Day at SHRM headquarters for people with disabilities.
  • ODEP will help to identify schools in the DC area that have students with disabilities who are interested in participating

The development and distribution of materials to foster a national dialogue on disability employment policies and practices

  • Online HR News articles that either focused on or included disability employment strategies
  • An article by Rebecca Hastings, SHRM's online writer and editor, on "Disability Etiquette Starts with Common Sense"
  • On October 30 from 2 - 3 pm, SHRM will host a webcast, "The Talent Pipeline to Top Students with Disabilities," that was developed cooperatively with ODEP staff

Three new employer tools ready to launch in 2008

  • An online, interactive eLaws Advisor on Disability and Employment, with personalized, "plain English" guidance on employer responsibilities under the five major Federal disability nondiscrimination laws
  • An online Employer Toolkit that can be downloaded and then customized by employers, adding in their own business/organizational resources, key personnel, and links
  • A pocketsize reference booklet with basic information, resources, and tips on hiring and employing people with disabilities

ODEP Initiatives Update
Presented by Karen M. Czarnecki, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

  • ODEP continues to be a priority for Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, who values the work ODEP does to advocate for the recruitment, employment and retention of individuals with disabilities.
  • The 2007 NFI Award Ceremony was full of inspiring stories, including those of the new business NFI Award winners, also newly welcomed to the Circle of Champions.
  • For FY 2007, ODEP has prioritized the publication and dissemination of its policy documents, effective practices and collaborations.
  • Leveraging present and past activities, including United We Ride, Memoranda of Understanding with the National Endowment of the Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, the expansion and utilization of customized employment, Guideposts for Success, pilot project research, the Circle of Champions, and the alliance with SHRM, ODEP has sought to educate its audiences about its policies and increase the adoption and replication of effective strategies that promote the employment of people with disabilities.
  • ODEP has the strategic framework we now need to operate as one cohesive agency with one vision and one mission.
  • ODEP continues emphasis on policy with the first ever ODEP Policy Summit to be held in the Spring 2008.
  • The corporations and individuals who participate in the Circle of Champions have made a commitment to hiring and advocating for employment of people with disabilities, and ODEP looks forward to Circle members participating in the Policy Summit.

Workforce Excellence Initiative Update
Presented by Loretta M. Herrington, Director, Workforce Excellence Initiative, ODEP

  • In March and April, 2007, Ogilvy Public Relations began a "One ODEP" branding exercise with members of the ODEP Policy Teams, as well as the Education and Outreach and Operations staff.
  • What emerged was a robust list of target audiences and key stakeholders, and key messaging that helps ODEP best tell its story.
  • Through this process, a vision of ODEP emerged: a vision of an organization driven by insight and intelligence.
  • In addition to the emergence of message themes, it became apparent that there were areas of common ground across ODEP, issues on which several or all of the teams work to facilitate the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities. They include: Veterans, Youth and Universal Strategies and Design.
  • From Customized Employment to current research to strategies for the arts sector, the Balboa model and transitioning youth with mental health disabilities, ODEP has worked to promote the work of the policy teams.
  • Ms. Herrington praised Circle members for their commitment to "our collective mission."

Innovative Corporate Practices and Strategies

Manpower: An International Study of the Aging Workforce
Presented by Martha C. Artiles, Chief Diversity Officer

General Overview

  • The Global Talent Landscape is experiencing a very real talent crunch
  • People are aging and there are not as many entering the workforce
  • There are similarities between the mature workforce and people with disabilities
  • There is a major talent shift
  • There are many misconceptions around mature workers; employers often will not look at resumes of this populations
  • Between 2025 and 2030, worldwide, there will be 12 million people exiting the workforce
  • Japan, Italy and Germany will be especially affected

Mature Workers' Study Findings

  • 28,000 employers were interviewed
  • Only 14 percent have recruitment strategies; 21 percent have retention strategies
  • Singapore tops the list for good recruitment strategies, with government pressure to do so plus corporate recognition of its importance
  • Japan tops the list in retaining employees and addressing age discrimination

Effective Corporate Recruitment Strategies include

  • Use of Recruitment Specialists
  • Partnerships with national and local organizations
  • Strategic hiring of mature workers to fill talent shortages

Effective Corporate Retention Strategies include

  • Performance-based compensation
  • Respect
  • Sense of belonging
  • Honest feedback
  • Recognition
  • Training/development for career advancement
  • Flexible work practices

U.S. Specifics

  • A 10 million-worker shortage is predicted by 2010
  • We have an aging workforce and a reduced number of new entrants
  • 43 percent will be retiring in the next 10 years


  • Manpower has prepared two White Papers:
    • "The New Agenda for an Older Workforce" (more globally focused)
    •  "Gray Matters: Engaging the Older Workforce" (more U.S. focused)
  • Knowledge transfer is not being looked at by companies; 75 percent in the U.S. do not see this as an issue
  • There is a connection between reasonable accommodation and strategies for an aging workforce; therefore, we need to leverage this knowledge for the aging population
  • If you factor in all workforce elements, a mature worker does not cost the company any more than a younger worker

CVS Caremark Corporation: The Snowbird Initiative and Recruiting Minority Job Candidates
Presented by Steve Wing, Director Government Programs

Preliminary Remarks

  • Participation in the Circle has resulted in partnerships ,including AAAS/Entry Point, TecAccess, & EARN
  • On October 23, 2007, CVS and ODEP signed an Alliance

Snowbird Initiative

  • CVS' Senior Vice Presidents look at research
  • CVS recently engaged in a study with the University of Boston and the University of Kentucky that found more action was needed to engage and retain their employees; the study is due to be released at a conference in March
  • As a result, the Snowbird Initiative was launched
  • There are now have over 1,000 participants and the initiative is so popular that the managers are competing to have the "snowbird" employees return as soon as possible
  • This program is also popular with the spouses of the employees. CVS has found that if the spouse is happy, they will have greater success retaining the employee

Other Retention Initiatives

  • CVS has partnered with faith-based groups to develop affordable mortgage programs; the 46th person in DC has closed on a home (many of these employees are hourly employees)
  • The Pathways to Pharmacy Program targets inner city minority youth; CVS is reaching out to elementary, middle and high school students with shadowing and employment programs
  • The company's goal is a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities
  • CVS partnered with New Visions in DC initially with six youth with disabilities, and have now placed 24 individuals with disabilities in their stores in photo positions
  • CVS has also partnered with Ken's Kids in Philadelphia

Additional Comments

  • 17 percent of the company's workforce is over 50; four employees have 60 years of service
  • CVS is partnering with the National Council on Aging for a March conference, and would welcome participation by Manpower and ODEP.
  • ODEP may want to identify the Chief Diversity Officers of companies for participation in ODEP's planned policy summit


  • UCLA's Anderson School of Management is launching a leadership institute for middle managers with disabilities
  • A management model for inclusion of employees in the workforce is needed
  • Manpower will provide tips and techniques on intergenerational studies
  • Manpower has a mentoring program for small business
  • Abilities Fund is developing an entrepreneurship program for people with disabilities; John Kemp requested assistance in developing criteria
  • Aetna (Raymond Arroyo) has started working with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance (GLAAD) on certification
  • Debra Ruh offered that there is nothing in place for an entrepreneur with a disability to obtain 8a certification; the ROI presenting the case for this is needed
  • Loretta Herrington stated that ODEP will organize a working group to develop a small business vendor ROI model around disability employment issues; Chris Button will be the policy lead; Raymond Arroyo/Aetna, Martha Atiles/Manpower, Debra Ruh/TecAccess, Susan Mazrui/AT&T, John Kemp/USBLN volunteered to participate

ODEP Reports

Overview and Summary on Workplace Flexibility Research
Presented by Christopher Button, Ph.D., Supervisory Policy Advisor

  • Where there are flexibilities and possibilities in a workplace, there are flexibility applications that benefit employees with disabilities
  • The Customized Employment research grants have yielded rich applications for the flexible workplace
  • Traditional flexibility practices have been combined with new strategies
  • The Customized Employment model has been expanded to non-disabled populations
  • ODEP is working with the Sloan Foundation on webinars and seminars on the applicability of Customized Employment for all workers, including people with disabilities

Employment-Related Transportation Options for Workers with Disabilities
Presented by Michael Reardon, Supervisory Policy Advisor

  • It is important to look at factors in addition to employment training for individuals with disabilities
  • Life activities such as getting up, getting dressed, getting out of the house, and getting transportation to work need to be considered
  • Insufficient access to health care and transportation are the two major barriers to employment for people with disabilities
  • "United We Ride," led by the U.S. Department of Transportation, has been a joint planning initiative, with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and ODEP as the lead agencies
  • Two major conferences have been held with representation for all 50 states
  • The initiative has not focused on employers, but business input is now being sought
  • The question was asked if the Circle members would use tax incentives
    • Debra Ruh/TecAccess stated they would be interested
    • Mark Feinour/Bank of America offered that they have partnered with a local shuttle provider resulting in increased satisfaction among their associates
    • Barbara Haight/Booz Allen Hamilton noted that there are very few accessible taxis available during the day
  • Mike Reardon reported that they are working with one of the taxi associations
  • Raymond Arroyo noted that in the disability community there seems to be segmentation by disability, but that is not how business works; we need to think in terms of partnering with specialty organizations (e.g. HR, Finances, Nursing, etc); specific job skills need to be aligned with the corresponding employer industry

Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers: Lessons for Advancing Employment of Individuals with Disabilities
Presented by Carolyn Veneri, Senior Policy Advisor

  • ODEP has initiated a study on mature workers, including retention and return to work strategies
  • The study began by identifying a group of companies recognized for their effective strategies
  • The study is currently in the final stages and should be completed by the end of December
  • Focused conversations were held with Circle of Champions participants

Report on Mentoring and Soft Skills Research
Presented by Rhonda Basha, J.D., Supervisory Policy Advisor

  • ODEP has focused its research on transitioning youth and young adults between 14 and 24 years old
  • Results showed that youth and young adults are not ready to work and mentoring is needed
  • Losing an employee can cost an employer up to twice that employee's annual salary
  • There is a generational change in attitudes toward work including job hopping
  • Reverse mentoring is being examined
  • The participants in the Circle of Champions are invited to become part of the conversation on mentoring
  • Circle participants have participated in conversations that led to a draft soft skills fact sheet that will be sent out for comments
  • ODEP was the lead agency for a Youth Development & Leadership Conference, "Blazing the Trail," that was held in August 2007
  • A White Paper based on proceedings from the conference is being developed; ODEP would like to work together with Circle participants on leadership related issues
  • A paradigm shift on mentoring from one day to a more committed relationship is happening

Business Dialogue on Accessible Technology and Disability Employment: A Springboard to Action for the Changing Workplace
Presented by John D. Kemp, Esq., Executive Director, USBLN®

  • On September 24, 2007, a Business Dialogue on Accessible Technology and Disability Employment was held in Orlando, Florida
  • The dialogue was funded through a sub-award from an ODEP grant to CESSI and was organized and conducted by the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) and the US Business Leadership Network
  • 25 large and small employers participated in the dialogue
  • Products of the dialogue will be two "Roadmaps" for enhancing employment of persons with disabilities, one for the Business Community and one for the Federal Government
  • Four successful business strategies have been identified:
  1. Secure leadership from the CEO and top corporate management and a network of other internal "champions"
  2. Make the business case that includes ROI, benefits to the company, and solving workforce issues
  3. Refine and advance corporate policies, practices, and programs to include people with disabilities
  4. Implement corporate infrastructures and organizational strategies that enable the company to realize and sustain its vision
  • Ten Actionable Steps for the Business Community
  1. Support forums and other opportunities that disseminate information through generic business organizations and associations
  2. Support business organizations whose mission includes disability employment strategies
  3. Support the establishment of a network of disability or accessibility managers working for businesses
  4. Support the establishment of a network of professionals with disabilities
  5. Promote new careers in business, e.g. accessibility managers
  6. Promote procurement policies such as Section 508
  7. Promote organizations that establish accessibility standards
  8. Support disability study programs that empower persons with disabilities to become financially literate and become a true market force
  9. Adopt pledges and pacts by and among businesses to purchase only accessible information and communication technology
  10. Encourage business foundations to support business initiatives designed to enhance employment of persons with disabilities through accessible technology

Policy Discussion

ODEP Policy Summit

Loretta Herrington reported that ODEP will hold a major employment policy summit in the spring of 2008. The following are topics currently being considered:

  • The impact of technology
  • The changing workplace outlook as result of the Baby Boomers exiting the workforce
  • Increased interest and opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship
  • Managing mental health issues in the workplace
  • Emerging recruitment and retention strategies
  • Preparing youth for the workforce
  • Preparing the workforce for Generation X

The following summit ideas were exchanged:

  • Reverse Mentoring opportunities are important
  • Simplicity is a good thing
  • Sessions need to speak to business
  • Use the perspective of the employer
  • Have a keynote speaker who gets it
  • Look at the nexus of technology transfer to the aging population
  • Consider EEOC Commissioner Christine Griffin's statement that "Hope is not a Plan" and be prepared to offer a plan
  • Ken Dychtwald's "Workforce Crisis" addresses what companies must do now to survive the impending talent crisis
  • Show how to leverage what you are already doing and apply it to people with disabilities, including lack of skilled workers, retirement trends, the global/international perspective
  • Consider structuring the summit with multiple tracks so it is an opportunity for companies to send a team
  • Partner with industry organizations in order to reach diverse businesses
  • Business partners can involve their suppliers
  • Consider scholarships or sponsorships for small companies
  • Each NFI awardee can reach out to two businesses
  • Apply economic data to the future and what it means for large, medium and small businesses
  • David M. Walker, U.S. Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office, was suggested as a keynote speaker
  • Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, was suggested as a keynote speaker
  • Stay at work and return to work issues are of interest

Wrap-Up and Next Steps

  • The Circle agreed to develop a model for encouraging vendors to hire, retain and promote people with disabilities
  • At the next meeting, there will be a presentation that focuses on job skills that meet employer needs in the areas of finance or sales
  • Long term mentoring to include the USBLN® youth advisory committee will be looked at
  • ODEP's Research and Evaluation Team will present.
  • ODEP will continue, as part of the National Dialogue efforts, to feature the "Faces of ODEP" on its website
Profile for October 1, 2007 Profile for October 2, 2007 Profile for October 3, 2007 Profile for October 4, 2007 Profile for October 5, 2007 Profile for October 8, 2007 Profile for October 9, 2007 Profile for October 10, 2007 Profile for October 11, 2007 Profile for October 12, 2007 Profile for October 15, 2007 Profile for October 16, 2007 Profile for October 17, 2007 Profile for October 18, 2007 Profile for October 19, 2007 Profile for October 22, 2007 Profile for October 23, 2007 Profile for October 24, 2007 Profile for October 25, 2007 Profile for October 26, 2007 Profile for October 29, 2007 Profile for October 30, 2007 Profile for October 31, 2007

Phone Numbers