The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Seven Employers Honored for Programs that Promote Access and Inclusion

WASHINGTON -- Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today presented the agency’s second annual “Freedom to Compete Award” to seven employers from the private and public sectors for practices that promote access and inclusion.

“Today, we honor employers whose extraordinary efforts embody a key tenet of the Commission's goals: to ensure that all individuals have the freedom to compete and advance in the workplace on a level playing field," Chair Dominguez said at a morning ceremony at EEOC headquarters. “Ultimately, the Freedom to Compete Awards are about setting examples. The best way to promote access and inclusion is to learn from one another.”

The awards are part of Chair Dominguez’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. As part of the 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 Freedom to Compete Initiative can be found on the EEOC’s web site at

The seven award recipients cover a range of industries and professions, including food services, public utilities, health care, construction and engineering, federal government, and disability advocacy:

McDonald’s Corporation of Oak Brook, Ill.: For its national “Employee Networks” program, which provides forums for employees of diverse groups to foster relationships and career development opportunities. The four major diversity networks are geared toward Hispanic, Asian, African American and female employees. The active involvement of top management ensures that participating employees gain access and exposure to decision-makers. Employee participation has burgeoned in network seminars on inclusion awareness, career development, and skill building. The networks have generated greater management commitment to diversity and enhanced access and inclusion for all employees.

Arizona Public Service Company of Phoenix: For its “Academy for the Advancement of Small, Minority and Women Owned Enterprises,” a two-year mentoring program to provide small employers with business skills training, one-on-one mentoring, group projects, and individualized goal setting and action plans. Many of the enterprises are owned by minorities and women, who in turn hire employees of diverse backgrounds and women. The program has resulted in 87 small employers in the Phoenix metropolitan area attending business training classes, building networks, developing resources, and meeting with individual advisors -- all geared toward assisting them in reaching their next level of business success.

Public Service Electric & Gas Company of Newark, N.J.: For its “Energy Utility Technology Degree Program” to develop a continuous pipeline of diverse talent for employment in entry-level technical trade positions and to establish a commitment to education that generates renewed interest in technical trade careers. The program, composed of partnerships with the state’s community colleges, high schools, and vocational schools, has resulted in the company hiring more students of diverse backgrounds into its technical trades area.

North Broward Hospital District of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: For its “Employee Advocacy and Fair Treatment Program,” designed and implemented for employees to address their equal employment opportunity concerns and reach fair resolutions with management at the lowest possible level - which helps maintain positive working relations. The program has resulted in a significant decrease in the filing of internal and external complaints.

Fluor Corporation of Sugar Land, Texas: For its “Mentoring Circles Program,” which provides a diverse group of employees with valuable exposure to leadership in a team-based setting that allows for informal dialogue, mentoring, and learning. The program provides participants with a heightened awareness of the company, varied perspectives through both peer and senior leadership mentoring, and an expanded network of colleagues. The program’s continued expansion has resulted in an enhanced commitment to access and inclusion for all employees.

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD): For its “Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program” (CAP), which makes assistive technology and services available at no cost to DoD employees and other federal agencies. CAP makes the electronic environment accessible and usable for individuals with hearing, visual, dexterity, cognitive, and communication disabilities. The program has helped thousands of federal employees realize their personal potential and achieve new levels of productivity, and is central to CAP’s efforts to help the federal government serve as the model employer for people with disabilities. Since its inception, CAP has filled more than 50,000 requests for accommodations.

Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP) of Cleveland: For hiring, training and promoting qualified persons with disabilities to help other persons with disabilities find and retain employment. The organization provides a range of services and assistance to persons with disabilities seeking employment opportunities. LEAP’s advocacy has resulted in an increasing demand for its services – leading to substantial growth in both revenue and staff size. In the past five years, LEAP’s staff, more than half of whom are employees with disabilities, has nearly doubled, with a turnover rate of only five percent.

The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the nation's anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information the EEOC and on the Freedom to Compete Award is available online at

This page was last modified on June 14, 2006.

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