Corporate Voices for Working Families’ 2013 Annual Partners Meeting put the spotlight last week  on corporate leadership beyond the workplace, providing presentations rich in content, lively discussions and opportunities for attendees to network with other business leaders and policymakers.

The meeting provided a forum to examine and discuss a host of critical workforce readiness and work/life issues that are critically important to Corporate Voices’ partner companies. These included how employment pathways for younger workers just entering the world of work can benefit employees and employers; the opportunities and challenges in employer engagement in higher education; how demographic changes are reshaping the economic and political landscapes; new thinking in workplace diversity and corporate wellness; and how responsible corporate leaders can – and must – engage in national efforts to foster job creation and stronger economic growth.

ImageJim Quigley, CEO Emeritus of Deloitte, gave one of the keynote presentations, demonstrating how critical it is for business leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. Quigley, co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, led the audience on a “conversation on leadership.”

“As leaders I would challenge you to consider whether the conditions for success are in place,” he said. “Have we created clarity about our key goals? Can we communicate these ideas in a way that we can be successful?”

Dr. Michael Dimock, Director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, led the second keynote presentation. He engaged the audience with a discussion of values, demographics, generations and technology, highlighting how policymakers need to forge Imagesolutions to the significant problems facing our nation and working families – while spotlighting the importance for business leaders, and the businesses they represent, to engage in a manner that fosters job creation and stronger economic growth.

Among the takeaways from Dimock’s presentation was a point relevant to public policy work: Pew research indicates that American public opinion on values hasn’t changed over the years, but the extent of political partisanship has changed significantly.

One of the many highlights of the Annual Meeting was a 90-minute briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that was organized exclusively for Corporate Voices by the White House staff. During the briefing, members of the Obama Administration shared their insights and perspectives on current and planned initiatives involving the jobs, training, education, economic and health and wellness issues of interest to our partner companies.

During the briefing, Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, said, “From the start of this Administration, Corporate Voices for Working Families has been a great partner on important issues.”

Corporate Voices’ Annual Partners Meeting – with generous sponsorship provided by Baxter International, KPMG, The TJX Companies, Johnson & Johnson, Ryan and SelectPlus — was held March 20-22, at the Loews Madison Hotel, Washington, D.C.

To view all presentations from this year’s Annual Meeting, please click here.

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Health Careers CollaborativeFor more than a decade, Corporate Voices has provided leading best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families, while strengthening our nation’s economy.  Many employers accomplish this by supporting the educational attainment of current and future employees.  In order to ensure that individuals have the skills to succeed in the workplace and are on education and career pathways to earning family sustaining wages, employers often partner with community colleges in Learn and Earn models of talent development.

Each week, in an effort to highlight these best practice models, Corporate Voices will spotlight a distinct Learn and Earn partnership between a business and community college. This week, we are pleased to highlight the Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati.

The Health Careers Collaborative (HCC) of Greater Cincinnati is a business-led consortium providing area hospitals with skilled, credentialed, loyal and diverse workers, while providing entry-level workers with educational opportunities tied to career mobility.  At the consortium’s foundation is a partnership between Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and local healthcare employers, including UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and TriHealth. HCC successfully created a career pathway with multiple entrance and exit points for incumbent, low-skilled and entry-level hospital workers to advance. The pathway also allows for unemployed and disadvantaged individuals to complete education and training programs that will position them to fill vacancies at the entry-level as incumbent workers advance.

To date, 3,000 credentials have been earned by participants, and one employer calculated an 11.9% return on investment for its participation in the collaborative.  The key to this successful model, according to the employers, is that it is business-led and that the community college and community organizations are willing and trustworthy partners.

On Wednesday, February 22, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis and Dr. Jill Biden visited HCC as part of a three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour to highlight innovative industry initiatives that are helping train students with the skills they need to meet area workforce needs. The bus tour and visit to HCC follow President Obama’s recent announcement of an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund, co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education,which will help forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train two million workers with skills that will lead directly to jobs.

For more information on HCC, please read the Learn and Earn micro-business case, or check Corporate Voices’ most recent tool,Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint.

goodwillEach week, Corporate Voices will be highlighting the commitments of its member and partner companies to Summer Jobs Plus, a new Presidential call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.

Corporate Voices’ partner company, Goodwill Industries International is proud to be one of the first organizations to support the Summer Jobs Plus program. Through Goodwill’s unique social enterprise business model, it creates employment and job training. This year, the organization will expand services for youth at the beginning of their careers. Goodwill is committed to hiring 1,200 youth ages 16-26, provide more than 3,200 youth with life skill services and provide over 2,300 youth with work skills services. Almost 2,000 youth will be engaged in learn and earn services. Thousands more will be provided virtual career mentoring and exploration services.

To learn more about fellow member companies committed to this effort, check out the new section on our website devoted to Summer Jobs Plus! To find out how your company can join this in this effort, build on your existing initiatives and make a commitment, please visit www.dol.gov/summerjobs/employers.htm.

Corporate Voices and a number of our partner companies played a key role in a White House event  held January 5 to launch the Summer Jobs Plus Initiative.

“Corporate Voices for Working Families supports the Obama administration in launching the Summer Jobs Plus initiative, which recognizes that there are a number of ways that employers can provide pathways to success for our nation’s low-income young adults, including Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives along with summer jobs,” said Stephen M. Wing, who represented Corporate Voices.

Wing made his remarks as part of the White House Summer Jobs Plus Summit. He participated on a panel that explored the moral imperative, economic need and potential value of connecting low-income and disconnected youth to employment opportunities, both in the short and long term. The panel, titled “The Case for Summer Jobs+ 2012,” consisted of Alan Krueger, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Alma Powell, America’s Promise Alliance; James White, CEO, Jamba Juice; R.T. Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis, MN; Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza; and John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises/ White House Council for Community Solutions.

The event marked the launch of President Obama’s challenge to businesses to commit to provide low-income youth with summer employment and other pathways to success. Recognizing that in a difficult economy not every business is in a position to hire, the administration’s new Summer Jobs Plus initiative will support not only businesses that hire youth, but also those companies that provide additional pathways for youth, such as internships, mentoring and other programs.  Summer Jobs Plus identifies three key ways for companies to help connect youth to a better future while simultaneously deriving benefits for their businesses, such as increased employee engagement, customer loyalty and employee retention.

Businesses can accept the president’s challenge and make a “Pathways Pledge” by choosing at least one of the following three pathways to employment for low-income youth: Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn.

Corporate Voices’ Senior Workforce Readiness Consultant, Elyse Rosenblum, served as a content expert at one of the featured breakout sessions: “Creating Pathways to Employment for Youth.

“More than five million young people in the United States are disconnected from education and employment,” Rosenblum said. “Corporate Voices is encouraged that the Obama administration has brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to find solutions that will enable young people to succeed, help employers tap new sources of skilled talent and strengthen our nation’s economic prosperity.”

A number of businesses committed to providing our nation’s young adults with jobs, internships and other pathways to opportunity, including the following Corporate Voices’ partner companies: Bank of America, Baxter International, Inc., CVS Caremark, Deloitte, Goodwill Industries International, H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

Over the last five years, Corporate Voices, in partnership with the New Options Project, and with support from the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been deeply focused on ways companies can provide low-income young adults with pathways to employment and education.

Most recently, Corporate Voices has worked with Gap Inc. and McKinsey by providing content and information for a toolkit being released today by the Corporation for National Service. The toolkit provides employers with a roadmap for how they can use different strategies, such as Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives to provide opportunities to America’s young adults. The toolkit entitled “A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth & Business” is available at no cost and can be accessed here