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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-26-07

<em>From left to right: Albert K. Blackwelder of Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Anthony L. Burfoot,<br> 
Vice Mayor of The City of Norfolk, Chair Earp, Francine M. Tishman of Abilities, Inc., Ronald R. <br>
Peterson of Johns Hopkins Health System, Richard J. Morgante of the IRS.</em

From left to right: Albert K. Blackwelder of Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Anthony L. Burfoot,
Vice Mayor of The City of Norfolk, Chair Earp, Francine M. Tishman of Abilities, Inc., Ronald R.
Peterson of Johns Hopkins Health System, Richard J. Morgante of the IRS.

EEOC PRESENTS ‘FREEDOM TO COMPETE AWARD’ FOR BEST PRACTICES IN EMPLOYMENT

Five Employers Honored for Programs Promoting Access and Inclusion

WASHINGTON – Naomi C. Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today presented the agency’s third annual “Freedom to Compete Award” to five employers from the private and public sectors for best practices that promote access and inclusion.

The award recipients include a leading internationally recognized hospital center, a non-profit health care provider, a major bureau of a Cabinet-level agency, a city government, and a disability advocacy organization.

“In today’s competitive global economy, employers must cast a wide net to attract the most diverse range of talent available,” Chair Earp said at a morning ceremony at agency headquarters. “The Freedom to Compete Award showcases the most innovative employer programs to promote fair and open competition in the 21st century workplace without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age or disability. We applaud the 2007 winners, whose practices serve as models for employers across the nation.”

The awards are part of the EEOC’s Freedom to Compete Initiative, a national outreach, education and coalition-building campaign launched in 2002 to provide free and unfettered access to employment opportunities for all individuals. The central theme of the initiative is that every individual deserves the opportunity to compete and advance as far as his/her talent and ability allow without regard to discriminatory barriers. The 2007 award winners are:

Johns Hopkins Health System: For developing a series of programs to increase job opportunities for area youth with disabilities; more efficiently handling disputes among its employees, including EEO disputes; improving upward mobility for both new hires and permanent staff, including those from under-represented groups; and enhancing the skills of its service workers. Through these programs, 41 students with disabilities have been placed in internships, 259 employees have completed training programs, approximately 60 employees have earned high school diplomas, and approximately 90 percent of discrimination charges were resolved without an investigation.

Emory Crawford Long Hospital: For its “Project Search Program,” which was created to assist hospitals experiencing shortages of nurses and medical technicians by employing young people with developmental disabilities (DD) to assist with routine tasks that do not require medical expertise. As a result of the program, 32 students with DD have transitioned to paid jobs in a variety of hospital departments.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): For its “Lions World Program” to facilitate the hiring and retention of individuals with visual impairments. The IRS extends commitments to hire qualified individuals with visual impairments upon successful completion of pre-employment training that utilizes adaptive equipment and assistive technologies. To date, 673 persons with significant visual impairments have been hired by the IRS through the program. The IRS has also directly hired 126 visually impaired computer programmers.

The City of Norfolk: For its “Pathways to Public Service Program,” which was designed to remove barriers to public employment for people of color, women, and individuals with disabilities. The program targets individuals of various ages and experiences and provides mentoring and real-world work experience in the public sector. Pathways to Public Service has resulted in numerous hires for the city.

Abilities, Inc.: For its “Experience Counts Program” to assist mature workers with disabilities or age-related limitations to regain meaningful employment. The program aims to educate employers about the value of hiring or retaining older workers and to assist mature job seekers in realigning their careers. As a result, 187 mature workers have obtained meaningful employment. Of those, over 70 percent were unemployed for more than six months prior to receiving services. Abilities, Inc. plans to expand the program to include veterans with disabilities who are returning to civilian life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the Freedom to Compete Initiative, the EEOC has been forging strategic alliances and partnerships with a cross-section of stakeholders to influence positive change in the workplace. Additional information about the initiative can be found on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/compete/index.html.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available online at www.eeoc.gov.