Partner Companies in the news


Domestic policy was front and center during the first State of the Union Address of President Obama’s second term. The captitolPresident spent most of his speech calling for tax and entitlement reform, spending on education and energy, gun control and immigration reform. One item of particular importance to Corporate Voices and its partner companies was the President’s call for linking education with the demands of an evolving skills-based workforce.

He highlighted the need for America to redesign its high schools to improve the link between education and the skills employers are looking for. After noting that German students graduate from high  school with the equivalent of a technical degree from a U.S. community college, the President praised the work CorporatIBMe Voices’ partner company IBM is doing through its Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). P-TECH is a grade 9 through 14 school that produces students with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in technology.  The curriculum was developed in close collaboration with the New York public schools, the City University of New York and IBM, to provide students with the skills required for entry-level positions at IBM.

Calling on others to follow suit, President Obama promised the Department of Education will create incentives for schools that form new partnerships with colleges or employers, or develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes geared toward high-tech jobs. Corporate Voices is already highlighting many of these partnerships and success stories through its Learn and Earn initiative and its work with Year Up in the New Options Project.

The 113th Congress will soon begin to sort through issues such as reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Corporate Voices is well positioned to offer the business case on why partnerships such as P-TECH succeed and are necessary for helping to ensure our nation’s young adults are prepared with the skills needed in the 21st-century workforce. In collaboration with Year Up, Corporate Voices has already distributed a list of its policy priorities for the 113th Congress.

If you are a Corporate Voices member company and want to lend your voice to shaping education and workforce policy by joining the Corporate Voices Public Policy Task Force, please contact Nathan Constable (nconstable@corporatevoices.org). We hope to hold the first policy call in March following the 2013 Annual Partners Meeting.

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Best Companies for Hourly Workers

Corporate Voices is delighted by the news that four of its partner companies were honored with Working Mother Media’s Best Companies for Hourly Workers Award at the 2012 National Conference Supporting Hourly Workers on May 18.  We applaud Bon Secours Virginia Health System,  Capital OneMarriott International and Sodexo for their outstanding work, which has resulted in this honor.  Our partner companies are joined by this year’s other honorees: Best Buy, Cricket Communications, Hilton Worldwide, Pet Smart, Target, University of New Mexico Hospitals, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and Valassis Communications.

At last week’s conference, Peggy Walton, Senior Director, Workforce Readiness, facilitated a breakout working group that discussed flex solutions for education, training and development.  Highlighted in the session were two Best Companies for Hourly Workers awardees, Valassis and University of New Mexico Hospitals, both of which have best-practice programs that support education attainment and talent development.

When Corporate Voices initiated the Best Companies for Hourly Workers recognition in partnership with Working Mother Media, the goal was to highlight those companies that set the standard for best practices for hourly workers.  Clearly, these winning organizations do just that.  They offer hourly workers benefits such as health insurance and company-matching 401(k)s, as well as paid vacation and sick days, tuition assistance, flexible spending accounts and flexible work schedules.

Obama Administration proposes new jobs initiative for veterans, including tax credits for employers.

Overshadowed by the recent heated negotiations over America’s debt-ceiling and deficit reduction measures, over the past weeks a litany of reports announcing critical economic indicators have painted a grim picture of our fragile economic recovery. The Commerce Department reported that GDP growth in the second quarter of 2011 was only 1.3 percent, while first quarter growth was revised down to 0.4 percent. At the same time, consumer spending—which fuels over half of our economic growth—fell in June for the first time in two years. The July jobs report, released Friday, showed lackluster growth in the jobs market, reporting that only 117,000 jobs were created last month. This is a fraction of the number needed on a monthly basis to significantly reduce unemployment to pre-recession levels.

Amidst these alarming indicators, the Obama administration is swiftly pivoting to the key issue of job creation. At the Washington Navy Yard on Friday, President Obama announced a series of measures to spur job creation for America’s veterans—a segment of the population that faces unique challenges re-integrating into civilian life and the workforce. There are approximately one million unemployed veterans today, with the jobless rate for post 9/11 veterans at 13.3 percent, higher than the national average. Matt Flavin, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and current Director of the White House Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Warrior Task Force said in a blog post last week,

“We have an obligation to make sure our veterans are able to navigate this difficult labor market and success in the civilian workforce.”

That is why President Obama announced his targeted plan to help ensure that veterans have a place in the workforce, and that employers understand the value of hiring veterans. The plan builds on Joining Forces, the national initiative to support military families spearheaded by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, and proposes the following business incentives:

  • A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for 2012 and 2013 for hiring unemployed veterans, with a maximum of $2,400 for every unemployed veteran hired and a maximum of $4,800 for hiring a veteran  who has been unemployed for six months or longer; and
  • A two-year extension of a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit that gives businesses a credit for hiring veterans with service-related disabilities (maximum of $4,800 per veteran), and increases the credit for firms that hire veterans with service-related disabilities who have been unemployed for six months or longer (maximum credit of $9,600). This credit currently exists within the framework of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program.

A number of Corporate Voices’ partner companies, including AlliedBarton, Bank of America, Citi, CVS Caremark, TJX and Verizon Wireless already have existing hiring initiatives for military spouses and veterans. Best practice companies such as these serve as models for the wider business community and are testimony to the value of hiring highly skilled veterans.

As President Obama announced this jobs initiative, he said,

“Today we’re saying to our veterans: You fought for us, and now we’re fighting for you—for the jobs and the opportunities that you need to keep your families strong, and to keep America competitive in the 21st century.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a recipient of Corporate Voices’ 2010 Best of Congress Award, is sponsoring a similar bill that has companion legislation in the House, signaling that this initiative has bi-partisan support. Corporate Voices will continue to monitor progress on this hiring initiative for veterans and what it may mean for your business.

If you are a corporate partner of Corporate Voices and have a hiring initiative for veterans but were not mentioned in this post, please let us know so we can highlight your leadership in the future.

Read more about President Obama’s jobs initiative for veterans, including a challenge to the private sector and government-wide efforts to improve career training and education for veterans transitioning back into civilian life on the White House blog.

A special report on “Work-Life Balance” was released in the December 3, 2010 issue of USA Today exploring the changing demographic and economic forces affecting Americans’ lives, and how work-life balance can help families and individuals find satisfaction in and out of the workplace. The report also highlights the critical role the business community plays in advancing work-life practices as a strategy for success in the 21st century. Corporate Voices’ President, Stephen M. Wing, contributed the foreword to this special report.

From the foreword:

“…work-life balance has become an increasingly important issue—for the health and well-being of individuals and working families, and for our overall economic competitiveness. No longer are work-life policies seen as a ‘perk’ or accommodation for those at the top of the ladder,” said Stephen M. Wing, President of Corporate Voices. “Today, business leaders, working mothers and fathers, advocates, community leaders, and local, state, and federal officials understand that our ability as a nation to harness the talent of our workforce to be globally competitive depends on family-friendly practices that help all workers manage both work and life.”

An article on page 6 of the report, titled “Success Through Flexibility,” discusses in more detail how flexibility is a critical management strategy that addresses work-life balance issues throughout all stages of life, and how research has documented the positive business impacts of flexibility.

The report highlights the many innovative businesses that are paving the way for work-life progress through their own flexibility practices, and the role of Corporate Voices’  national workplace flexibility campaign in recognizing these industry leaders to create the forward momentum needed to expand flexibility within the wider business community.

Read the “Work-Life Balance” report, accompanying press release and media placements on Corporate Voices’ website.

” … work-life balance has become an increasingly important issue—for the health and well-being of individuals and working families, and for our overall economic competitiveness. No longer are work-life policies seen as a ‘perk’ or accommodation for those at the top of the ladder,” says Steve Wing, President of Corporate Voices for Working Families, in the introductory foreword. “Today, business leaders, working mothers and fathers, advocates, community leaders, and local, state, and federal officials understand that our ability as a nation to harness the talent of our workforce to be globally competitive depends on family-friendly practices that help all workers manage both work and life.”

Are young people today prepared to work?

Corporate Voices for Working Families’ research – including the comprehensive studies and reports, Are They Really Ready to Work? and The Ill- Prepared US Workforce, demonstrate that employers find the majority of young people to be unprepared to succeed at work and in the changing and more demanding workplace of the 21st century. To solidify the known employer data, the survey was distributed to measure what the general public thinks about work readiness of young people.

With the generous support of Workplace Options, a partner company of Corporate Voices, Public Policy Polling surveyed the American public in August 2010 to gauge its perceptions of how prepared young people and new entrants to the workforce are, as well as how likely they are to succeed.

Overall, the general public agrees with employers: Young people lack both the basic and applied skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.

The results highlighted the need for a more cooperative effort between businesses, education, community leaders, and policy makers to ensure success for young people, to strengthen the incoming workforce and to improve the overall economy and future economic competitiveness of our country. The results also add emphasis and a sense of urgency to Corporate Voices’ workforce readiness initiatives and engagements – including our work with the Ready by 21 National Partnership and the complementary New Options Initiative, a program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Ready by 21 is a strategy that helps communities to improve the odds that all youth will be ready for work, college and life. New Options Is a multiyear effort to find alternative employment pathways for an estimated 4 million “disconnected” young adults in America who have found themselves isolated from meaningful education and career opportunities.

The Public Policy Polling survey says:

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed feel that more than a quarter of young people do not have the skills they need to be prepared to work, and 21 percent feel that more than half of the nation’s young people do not possess the skill sets to be work-ready.

Other highlights from the survey are as follows:

The readiness level of future workers is viewed as worse for those with a high school degree compared to those with postsecondary credentials. The majority of the general public (68 percent) feels that young people with a high school diploma are not prepared to work; whereas 35 percent of the general public expresses the same concern for young people with college degree. Employers agree that preparedness increases with educational attainment, as found in Are They Really Ready to Work? (2006).

• The attainment of postsecondary credentials is important for youth to be ready for work.

When asked which entity bears the responsibility for getting youth ready for work, more than 70 percent of the general public feels that education (either K-12 or higher education) plays a key role. In more detail, 78 percent of the general public thinks the higher education system bears responsibility for ensuring that youth today have the skills they need to be prepared for work; whereas 71 percent of them think the K-12 education system bears responsibility. Only 3 percent of the general public believes that employers have the most responsibility to prepare young people for work. The public expects a future employee to be work-ready through the support of the education system, community and family. In Are They Ready to Work? 75.6 percent of employer respondents expressed that K-12 schools have the primary responsibility for providing the necessary basic knowledge and applied skills for their new entrants; whereas 19 percent of them thought that the hiring employer bared the most responsibility. Employers, too, indicated that workforce readiness came from education.

The main skill young people lack when entering the workforce, according to the general public, is professionalism. Those surveyed said that young people are lacking in the following skills:

  • Professionalism (37 percent);
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills (19 percent);
  • Basic skills (writing, reading, and math) (16 percent);
  • Communication skills (written and oral) (15 percent); and
  • Creativity (5 percent)

Our reports show that employers agree with the American public: having a proficiency in “applied skills” is critical for young people entering the workforce today. In fact, employers said that applied skills would become even more important over time than basic skills.

According to the Public Policy survey, the general public shares the concerns of business leaders about the readiness and skills of young people and new entrants into the workforce.

Corporate Voices believes that workforce readiness today is a critical component of economic competitiveness and success tomorrow. Through its Ready by 21, New Options Initiative and Earn and Learn programs, Corporate Voices is working with businesses and local communities to engage youth and prepare them for college, work, and life. It is also mapping model public-private partnerships between the private sector and business that enable young people to gain an education while also earning a paycheck. It is these partnerships and synergies between businesses and communities, in additional to national educational reform, which will ensure our youth are ready for tomorrow’s workforce and global economy.

Workplace Options provides Corporate Voices with the availability to survey the general public on a monthly basis. Corporate Voices thanks Workplace Options for the generous in-kind donation which continues to enhance our work and research.

Ready by 21 and the Ready by 21 Logo are registered trademarks of the Forum for Youth Investment.

By Keiko Iioka. Keiko is an intern with Corporate Voices for Working Families

South Korea, one of the Asian Tigers noted for its exceptionally high economic growth rates and rapid industrialization throughout the second half of the 20th century, has discovered that its fertility rate is among the lowest among developed countries.  South Korea’s fertility rate is 1.19, compared to the U.S.’ rate of 2.1. This low rate has serious social implications and will affect the future health and vitality of South Korea’s workforce.

The fertility rate measures the total number of children an average woman will have during her child-bearing years. The replacement rate, or rate at which enough children are born to replace people who die in the population, is 2.1. This is the rate that countries need to maintain the sizes of their population. If South Korea continues to have low birth rates, its population could decrease by 10 to 15 percent by 2050.

According to the Korea Herald, this is a huge problem.

From the article:

“The decline in the birth rate is a serious problem. It means that the country faces a declining labor force in years ahead. The population in the 30-40 age group has been declining since 2006, according to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family. By 2018, those over the age of 65 will constitute 14 percent of the population. Unless the falling birthrate is reversed soon the country is destined for a weakened economy and a failure of the social security system.”

The demographic trend in South Korea is similar to what we are seeing in the U.S., although South Korea’s demographic shifts are more dramatic. For the first time in history, South Korean women aged 30-39 gave birth to more babies than women in their 20s in 2005. In America, the Pew Research Center found that more women who were 35 or older were giving birth to more children in 2008 compared with 1990 data.

The fact that children are increasingly being born to older women in the U.S. is a function of increasing educational attainment and getting married later in life, among other factors, however it is not hindering the overall birthrate of the country. In South Korea, however, women are not only waiting until they are older to have children—women are increasingly choosing not to have children at all.

To fix this problem, the South Korean government has, for many years now, taken measures to encourage families to have more children.

“The government has unveiled a plan to offer bigger tax incentives for households with two or more children in order to arrest the declining birth rate. The economics package, however, also includes more welfare measures for married couples, [such as] more day care services, preschool education, and improved child care facilities…to encourage South Koreans to have more children.” –LifeSiteNews.com

Not seeing the birthrate improve, the government has broadened its approach to include more than just financial incentives to encourage people to have bigger families. The government has realized that because of overt and subtle discrimination against working mothers in South Korea, larger families will require effort from the public sector and the business community to provide policies such as more flexible work arrangements, availability of affordable, high-quality childcare, and maternity and parental leave.

South Korea has started sending researchers, officials, and students abroad to learn and research how other cultures have used family-friendly business policies, in the hopes of learning from best practice models.

Students from Chung-Ang University in Seoul last week visited Corporate Voices to learn about its partner companies’ best-practice family-friendly workplace policies. They heard from Donna Klein, who told them about the history of the work-life movement in the U.S., about the history of Corporate Voices for Working Families, and about the emerging consensus in America that there is a business imperative for policies that help working families.

The students plan to stay in America for a week conducting site visits, interviewing other family-friendly U.S. companies, and researching the work/life field. When they return to South Korea, they will publish their findings in the hopes of encouraging South Korean companies to adopt management systems that benefit working families.

Corporate Voices believes that family-friendly policies such as workplace flexibility helps improve the business bottom line. In its report, “Business Impacts of Flexibility: An Imperative for Expansion,” 29 America firms provided data showing the positive business impacts of flexibility policies and practices. The data showed that flexibility practices improved employee engagement, productivity, and well-being. As such, they are a valuable recruitment and retention tool for key talent in an organization.

Corporate Voices is proud to have its partner companies serve as best-practice models for family-friendly workplaces, and to serve as an adviser for other countries in the work-life field. We look forward to following the outcomes of the students’ research when they return to South Korea.

On Tuesday, July 20, Vice President Biden and members of the White House Middle Class Task Force and Council on Women and Girls will hold an event to discuss solutions for families balancing the dual demands of work and family.

Vice President Biden, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and others will announce recommendations from the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force and discuss the Administration’s ongoing commitment to improving work-family balance for all Americans.

Since the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility in March, Corporate Voices has been busy creating and expanding its national workplace flexibility challenge campaign. The campaign challenges the business community to expand support for workplace flexibility and centers around broadening awareness for the positive business and employee benefits workplace flexibility offers. Together with our partner organizations, we look forward to beginning our grassroots outreach to spark conversations in local communities about how workplace flexibility can empower working families.

To date, the following companies have signed our Statement of Support for Expanding Workplace Flexibility:

Accenutre, AOL, Baxter International Inc., Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Childrens’ Creative Learning Centers, Knowledge Universe, KPMG LLP, LifeCare, McGladrey, Workplace Options, and Sodexo, among others.

We applaud their efforts in helping to catalyze nation-wide support for improving the lives of working families through workplace flexibility.

**Watch this Middle Class Task Force event live on July 20 at 10:45 AM EST at: www.whitehouse.gov/live **

Learn more about Corporate Voices’ workplace flexibility campaign at: http://corporatevoices.org/our-work/flexcampaign.

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