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PRESS RELEASE
3-8-06

EEOC PARTNERS WITH BUSINESS TO BUILD BEST PRACTICES FOR INCREASING DIVERSITY

Action Plan Emerges from Watershed Symposium with Corporate Leaders

WASHINGTON – In its continuing efforts to boost equal opportunity and corporate diversity through stronger partnerships with businesses, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Diversity Best Practices (DBP) and the Business Women’s Network (BWN) hosted a landmark symposium Tuesday at the EEOC’s downtown headquarters. More than 80 corporate officers and other executives from such companies as Lockheed Martin Corp., Coca-Cola and Eastman Kodak Co. were on hand to share their unique perspectives.

Bringing these diverse opinions under one roof advances an initiative spearheaded by EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez to recognize and reward best practices for creating a level playing field in the workplace. The symposium participants resolved to:

  • Build executive support, beginning with chief executive officers, for developing and advancing best practices. “For us, diversity is a business imperative,” said Marillyn A. Hewson, President of Kelly Aviation Center, of Lockheed Martin Corp.
  • Encourage companies and associations to apply for the EEOC’s annual Freedom to Compete Award, which was designed to showcase, recognize and reward specific practices and concrete activities that produce results and reflect an abiding commitment to access and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Build a partnership with the EEOC. “The agency must serve as a workplace partner, not simply a watchdog,” Chair Dominguez said. “This is an historic time. Your presence here today reflects the shared commitment and trust that we’ve built.”
  • Help small business. Companies will commit to assisting their suppliers and other vendors with training and support to work with the EEOC.

Edie Fraser, DBP president, founder and chief executive, welcomed Tuesday’s participants.

“Diversity Best Practices is proud of this historic collaboration with the EEOC as the agency strives to build unique and lasting partnerships with America’s corporations to enhance equal opportunity and diversity in the workplace through identifying and implementing best practices,” she said.

Chair Dominguez has long stressed the value of recognizing best practices as an educational tool to proactively prevent discrimination.

“Just as diversity boosts companies’ bottom lines, we have found that proactive prevention is money well spent for the agency,” she said. “By devoting resources to stopping discrimination before it occurs, we gain by freeing up staff time and money to concentrate on the serious discrimination that still affects too many of our nation’s workers.”

Former EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. “Gil” Casellas, who played a major role in framing Tuesday’s discussion, added: “I am so pleased to participate in a program that reaffirms the EEOC’s overarching mission of fostering equal opportunity in the workplace and celebrates those employers whose diversity practices are models for unleashing the enormous talent of our richly diverse population.”

EEOC Vice Chair Naomi Earp, Commissioners Leslie Silverman, Stuart Ishimaru and Christine Griffin also participated in the program, along with former Commissioner Reginald Jones. Commissioner Griffin praised the program and expressed hope that all future diversity efforts will include people with disabilities.

The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the nation's anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the agency is available (in English and Spanish) on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Diversity Best Practices (DBP) (http://www.diversitybestpractices.com) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization providing resources, publications and benchmarking services for diversity in business. DBP is a leading resource service that assists leaders and professionals in the development of fully integrated diversity programs. DBP and its sister organizations, Business Women’s Network (BWN) and Best Practices in Corporate Communications, are subsidiaries of iVillage Inc. (Nasdaq: IVIL), a leading women’s media company and the number one women’s community online.