Skip top navigation Skip to content

Print   Email  Share

EEOC Agency-Wide Communications and Outreach Plan
September 2015

BACKGROUND

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) relies on clear and coordinated communications with workers, employers, other key stakeholders, and the public to promote an understanding of how the agency protects workers' rights and educates employers regarding their responsibilities. The agency's Strategic Plan calls for EEOC to prevent employment discrimination through education and outreach that includes easy-to-follow guidance, technical assistance, and training to help employers and workers comply with anti-discrimination laws. In addition, the agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), which was the first performance measure required by the Strategic Plan, requires staff to develop a multi-year, nationwide communications and outreach plan to ensure consistency and coordination in message content and management of the agency's communications, program outreach, technical assistance, and legislative outreach. Further, the EEOC Office of the Inspector General pointed to the benefits of an integrated approach to communications and outreach in an evaluation of the agency's communications and outreach programs.

In protecting the right of workers to pursue employment free from discrimination, clear, coordinated communications and outreach enable the EEOC to reach its audiences more effectively. Developing and consistently using one core set of resources (which can be tailored or expanded upon, as appropriate) to explain the federal laws, regulations, and cases that promote equal employment opportunity is far more efficient than different offices creating overlapping materials. Disseminating information consistently-using the same themes and visual elements, repeatedly, across the country-increases awareness of EEOC and the agency's role in eliminating workforce discrimination. Consistent communication also reinforces workers' and employers' understanding of the laws the agency enforces. Coordinating planned agency announcements-such as the publication of a report or launch of a new initiative-enables EEOC's audiences to digest one message from the agency at a time. In addition, working together, across all agency offices, on a common communications strategy reduces redundancy and avoids inconsistency.

The following plan for agency-wide communications and outreach represents renewed attention on what EEOC communicates, to whom, and how-internally as well as externally. The plan recognizes the vital role of all those at EEOC who are responsible for building relationships with the public. It is designed to encourage those efforts, while ensuring that staff throughout the agency advance core messages about the agency's work and the laws it enforces. The plan was prepared in conjunction with the Offices of Field Programs, Federal Operations, Legal Counsel, and the General Counsel. It applies to the agency's work on behalf of private sector, federal sector, and state and local government workers and employers. Some of the tactics noted are underway already. Others are designed to be initiated in the short term, and still others are included with a view to the longer term-keeping in mind that EEOC will implement the plan over a multi-year period, as resources permit.

Companion documents to the Agency-wide Communications and Outreach Plan will address responsibility, accountability, and performance measures for evaluating the impact of the plan.

The plan sets forth two overarching goals: 1) More effectively communicate, nationwide, to broad and diverse audiences; and 2) Strengthen communications across the agency. The plan starts with Goal 1, providing a brief explanation of the fundamental elements of that goal, e.g., primary audiences and primary messages. Then the plan lists the nine objectives central to achieving Goal 1 and tactics to meet each objective. After that, the plan continues with Goal 2 and a description of EEOC's structure. The plan concludes with three objectives and corresponding tactics supporting Goal 2.

GOAL 1: MORE EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE, NATIONWIDE, TO BROAD AND DIVERSE AUDIENCES.

FUNDAMENTAL COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ELEMENTS

Essential to any communications and outreach plan is the identification of: (1) the audiences the plan is designed to reach, (2) the messages that are most important to convey to those audiences, (3) the channels through which the audiences can best be reached, and (4) the individuals who will carry the message. Those four elements guiding EEOC's external communications and outreach are outlined directly below. The label "primary" indicates that there are other audiences, messages, channels, and messengers. However, agency management and staff will focus first on these primary aspects of each element.

Element 1: EEOC's primary audiences are workers, job applicants, and employers, who need to understand their rights and responsibilities under equal employment opportunity laws. The other primary audiences for the agency are human resource professionals, worker advocates, and attorneys-all of whom are often the first contacts for workers or employers trying to stop or prevent employment discrimination. EEOC offices will identify within these broad audiences sub groups in their areas with the greatest need for EEOC's education and enforcement programs.

PRIMARY AUDIENCES

  • Workers and job applicants
  • Employers
  • Human resource and equal employment opportunity professionals
  • Worker advocates
  • Attorneys representing workers and employers

Element 2: EEOC's primary messaging falls into four categories. The first is a national message that expresses EEOC's role and impact in a few short, easily understood and remembered phrases. The second category speaks to the laws EEOC enforces. The third highlights vital efforts under the agency's SEP priorities. The fourth covers significant agency work in other critical areas affecting equal employment opportunity.

The agency's national message should be a constant in all communications and outreach. Agency representatives will use messages about laws, SEP priorities, and other critical issue areas, as needed.

PRIMARY MESSAGING

  • A national message about who we are, who we help, how we help, and why it matters.
  • Key message points on the laws EEOC enforces to stop discrimination.
  • Key message points on each SEP priority, which generally will:
    • Describe the problem for workers under that SEP priority and provide supporting data (e.g., a statistic, trend, or experience of an individual facing the problem).
    • Explain the federal protections available to workers affected by that SEP priority.
    • Describe EEOC's role in alleviating the problem and advancing those protections, including a resulting change in policy or remedy for an individual/group of individuals.
  • Key message points on other critical areas, including guidance, decisions, charge data, and initiatives of the Commission.

Element 3: EEOC's primary channels are the most effective outlets for reaching the agency's key audiences. Many of the communications channels perform a double duty for the agency-addressing its primary audiences as well as members of the general public, legislators, teachers, judges, and more. The outreach channels are narrower in scope, but often offer the opportunity for more in-depth coverage of areas for which the agency is responsible. Delivering the agency's messages through a balance of both types of channels enables EEOC to communicate most successfully.

PRIMARY CHANNELS

  • Communications
    • EEOC's website
    • National and local print, radio, TV, online, and social media-including industry and ethnic outlets.
    • Print, online, and social media sponsored by the types of groups under Outreach, below.
  • Outreach
    • In-person venues sponsored by EEOC or the following types of groups (in alpha order):
      • Civil rights and advocacy groups
      • Employer organizations, including those targeted to small businesses
      • Faith-based organizations
      • Federal, state, and local government agencies
      • Human resource organizations
      • Labor and employment bar groups
      • Labor unions and worker organizations
    • Webinars conducted by EEOC or the groups listed above

Element 4: EEOC's primary messengers use a variety of channels to communicate with the agency's key audiences. The more consistently and regularly these individuals emphasize the same themes in their communications and outreach, the greater understanding audiences will develop about the significance of equal opportunity in employment and EEOC's work to achieve that goal. This plan is designed to reinforce consistent messages from EEOC messengers while, at the same time, allowing for individuality.

PRIMARY MESSENGERS

  • Chair, Commissioners, and General Counsel
  • Office, program, and district directors; regional attorneys
  • OCLA staff
  • Program analysts
  • Field and HQ managers and designated staff (attorneys, administrative judges , mediators, investigators, outreach and training coordinators, and others)

Overall, the EEOC Agency-wide Communications and Outreach Plan endeavors to weave these four elements together to help the agency achieve its external goal: Communicate more effectively, as an agency, to broad and diverse audiences.

GOAL 1, Objective 1: Advance a national message that all agency staff convey.

  • Tactic 1: Identify a national message that everyone at EEOC will remember and use in outreach. (See the Messaging section above.) Distribute this message agency-wide and post it where it is readily accessible to everyone at EEOC.
  • Tactic 2: Incorporate this message into a set of core resources (which can be tailored and expanded upon, as appropriate) for use in communications and outreach.
  • Tactic 3: Using the resources noted in Tactic 2 above, spread this message nationwide via EEOC's Primary Channels.

GOAL 1, Objective 2: Promote key message points on the laws EEOC enforces, the agency's SEP priorities, and other critical areas of agency work-key message points that all agency staff convey.

  • Tactic 1: Create key message points for the laws EEOC enforces, each SEP priority and for other critical areas requiring communications and outreach. (See the Messaging section above.)
    • Distribute these sets of key message points across the agency and post them where they are readily accessible by everyone at EEOC.
    • Update these sets of key message points regularly with new cases, conciliations, legal developments, and trends.
  • Tactic 2: Incorporate these message points into a set of core resources (which can be tailored or expanded upon, as appropriate) for use in communications and outreach.
  • Tactic 3: Using the resources noted in Tactic 2 above, spread these messages nationwide via EEOC's Primary Channels.

GOAL 1, Objective 3: Coordinate outreach across all EEOC offices.

  • Tactic 1: Create an annual, national outreach plan informed by an analysis of where there is the greatest need for education. This analysis will consider information such as charge and resolution data, population trends, demographics, litigation, government-wide program evaluations, input from community groups, and inquiries as well as the agency's SEP priorities. Offices can tailor and/or expand on this national outreach plan to meet their most crucial local and program needs.
  • Tactic 2: Identify, in each office, the specific groups from the agency's Primary Channels that can help the office achieve the following two ends. First, reach the greatest number of individuals among the agency's Primary Audiences. Second, reach those individuals (among the agency's Primary Audiences) who most need education about equal employment opportunity. Develop or expand partnerships with these groups.
  • Tactic 3: Arrange for educational programs, training, technical assistance, webinars, speeches, and more in conjunction with the groups identified above as well as through EEOC's Primary Channels.
  • Tactic 4: Prepare for the efforts above using the national message, other key message points, and core resources- all of which will be posted where they are readily accessible. Tailor and/or expand upon these materials as appropriate for specific audiences.

GOAL 1, Objective 4: Enhance EEOC's use of traditional and social media to reach the agency's Primary Audiences and the broader public.

  • Tactic 1: Prepare an annual media relations plan-including national and local events that can be anticipated-to be implemented agency-wide and updated as more information becomes available throughout the year.
    • Include in the plan news releases, media interviews, op-eds, media visits, web posts (on www.eeoc.gov as well as on others' blogs and sites), social media, and more.
    • Include national, local, trade, and ethnic media in print, radio, TV, and online formats.
    • Develop national and local materials following agency standards outlined in the upcoming, updated EEOC Communications and Legislative Affairs Guide.
    • Prepare for the above using the national message, key message points, and core resources-all of which will be posted where they are readily accessible. Tailor and/or expand upon those resources as appropriate for specific audiences.
  • Tactic 2: Implement the GovDelivery web platform that allows members of the public to subscribe to EEOC information based on their interests and geographic location, for example litigation or outreach events in a particular city. This platform will strengthen and broaden EEOC's connection to its Primary Audiences. It also will link EEOC to a network of other federal agencies and offer updates on EEOC's work to subscribers of related information from those agencies.
  • Tactic 3: Invigorate the agency's social media presence.
    • o
    • Provide training to selected staff in establishing and maintaining a successful social media program.
    • Boost the agency's use of social media, elevate the content on its social media platforms, and expand its social media following.
    • Incorporate social media in the communications and outreach plans described above.
    • Include tips on using social media effectively in a revised agency guide on social media as part of the upcoming, updated EEOC Communications and Legislative Affairs Guide.
  • Tactic 4: Upgrade the technology and user experience of EEOC's website.
    • Move to a website that uses open-source software, which will be easier to update and upgrade and will provide a format that is mobile-phone-friendly.
    • Revamp the website format and content-starting with the home page and working strategically through section by section-to create a more user friendly, visually appealing tool that can be understood by a broad range of viewers.
    • Ensure information on the website is 508 compliant and fully accessible.
    • Include information in other languages, as resources permit, following standards set forth in the agency's Language Access Plan.
    • Employ a comprehensive set of web metrics to continually improve content and the user experience.
  • Tactic 5: Pursue search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

GOAL 1, Objective 5: Provide greater notice throughout the agency of major announcements-to include guidance, decisions, Commission meetings, Commission initiatives, federal sector and research reports, and, as possible, litigation and settlements.

  • Tactic 1: Institute periodic communications and outreach meetings at which leadership from the divisions that generate and disseminate agency announcements share updates on announcements in the pipeline. Hold those meetings as often as necessary to keep colleagues current.
  • Tactic 2: Coordinate the release of announcements, to the degree possible. This will help obtain broad coverage, keep the agency from stepping on its own message, and better balance workloads.
  • Tactic 3: Prepare guidance, talking points, news releases, and other communications and outreach materials in advance of announcement, whenever possible.
  • Tactic 4: Respond quickly with guidance, talking points, and other necessary communications and outreach materials after unscheduled major announcements, judicial decisions or other significant developments affecting EEOC and its work.
  • Tactic 5: Coordinate regularly with headquarters directors, district directors, program analysts, regional attorneys, and Federal Sector training and outreach coordinators around upcoming announcements and messages for those announcements.
  • Tactic 6: Include, where appropriate, a member of OCLA's leadership team in the standing meetings of program offices, program analysts, district directors, regional attorneys, and the Chair's office to offer greater assistance to those individuals regularly engaged in communications and outreach.

GOAL 1, Objective 6: Develop a set of core resources that have a consistent message and look, for use by EEOC's primary messengers.

(The messages and look of these resources will be the foundation for all communications and outreach. Additional material will be added to tailor and/or expand upon the resources to a particular audience, geography, occasion, and/or other circumstance. Resources will include PowerPoint presentations, flyers, brochures, talking points, speeches, media columns, graphics, stories of workers, images, videos, statistics, trends, and news releases.)

  • Tactic 1: Ensure these resources are 508 compliant and are easily understood by those with limited literacy skills or limited English proficiency. As appropriate and possible, translate these resources into other languages, following standards set forth in the agency's Language Access Plan.
  • Tactic 2: Post these resources where they are readily accessible.
  • Tactic 3: Update and add to this set of resources regularly.
  • Tactic 4: As staff use and tailor and/or expand upon the core resources, submit the revised/expanded versions for posting.

GOAL 1, Objective 7: Identify a location on InSite that will serve as an easily accessible repository for core national communications and outreach resources.

  • Tactic 1: Keep core national communications and outreach resources in this repository current; remove outdated materials.
  • Tactic 2: Link core national communications and outreach resources in this repository to other online resources.
  • Tactic 2: Inform all staff about this repository at its launch and periodically after that. Send out agency-wide alerts on updates to existing resources in the repository and new resources added.

GOAL 1, Objective 8: Provide consistent training to primary messengers.

  • Tactic 1: Tailor training to the position, and train like positions together.
  • Tactic 2: Offer speech/presentation and media training, as appropriate.
  • Tactic 3: Use the national message, key message points, and core resources in training sessions.

GOAL 1 Objective 9: Engage others in promoting EEOC's message.

  • Tactic 1: Work with groups and/or individuals outside of the Commission to reach broad and diverse audiences with information about what the agency does.
  • Tactic 2: Share, with these groups/individuals, appropriate EEOC priorities, litigation trends, publications, presentations, and more for distribution to their communities.

GOAL 2: STRENGTHEN COMMUNICATIONS ACROSS THE AGENCY.

INTERNAL STRUCTURE

Approximately 2,300 employees carry out EEOC's work in 53 field offices across the country and an headquarters office in Washington, D.C. EEOC's five-member, bipartisan Commission develops and approves Commission policy, authorizes lawsuits, and adjudicates federal sector complaints. EEOC's General Counsel directs the agency's litigation to stop and remedy employment discrimination. Field offices handle education, investigations, mediations, federal sector hearings, litigation, and outreach. Headquarters offices manage field programs, federal programs, policy, and research as well as the numerous functions critical to the agency's operations.

GOAL 2, Objective 1: Communicate key information in a clear, timely, and consistent manner across all agency offices and between the field and headquarters to achieve EEOC's objectives.

  • Tactic 1: Ensure the Chair's office, General Counsel's office, Commissioners' offices, headquarters offices, and field offices share information regarding significant efforts underway as well as anticipated developments. This will facilitate coordination and a consistent agency position on developing issues.
  • Tactic 2: Promote information sharing and dialogue-about projects, goals, and resources-among different offices and work groups to provide staff members the information they need to accomplish their work and to increase collaboration across offices.
  • Tactic 3: Foster greater discussion and information sharing between managers and staff about agency developments to promote engagement and continually improve agency operations.
  • Tactic 4: Develop systems for making the knowledge of the agency readily accessible to all.
  • Tactic 5: Create and publicize an online forum/electronic tool that enables real-time sharing of ideas, questions, and concerns by individuals across the agency.
  • Tactic 6: Clearly define the purpose and type of content in e-blasts used to communicate to all staff.
  • Tactic 7: Ensure InSite is more user friendly and current.

GOAL 2, Objective 2: Ensure clear two-way communication so that the Commission, General Counsel, and headquarters offices receive regular input from staff and staff understand the goals and objectives of agency leadership.

  • Tactic 1: Continue to develop various outlets for feedback from the field to the Chair's Office, Commission, General Counsel, and other headquarters offices-outlets such as periodic town hall meetings, quarterly "Conversations with the Chair," topic email boxes, and surveys.
  • Tactic 2: Identify new and more readily accessible avenues for agency office directors to communicate regularly with field staff.
  • Tactic 3: Promote the sharing of information and exchange of ideas among the Commission, General Counsel, and staff.

GOAL 2, Objective 3: Develop a process for streamlining requests for information from staff to avoid duplication and promote efficiency.

  • Tactic 1: Share information more effectively across the agency with the objective of reducing the burden on field staff from duplicative requests.
  • Tactic 2: Create online tools that provide easy access to the data that offices request most frequently.