Cornell is one of five organizations to be awarded an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) for demonstrated exemplary efforts in achieving equal employment opportunity in the workplace.
Cornell was chosen on the basis of its innovative EEO programs in the skilled trades, its outreach to veterans and individuals with disabilities, and its community involvement.
The award recognizes Cornell's recent efforts to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and equal opportunity, and it comes from one of the country's most important overseers of federal grants and contracts.
"In 2000, we recognized the shortage of women and minorities in the skilled trades throughout the upstate New York region," said Lynette Chappell-Williams, Cornell's director of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality, who received the award on the university's behalf. "As a result, the university hired a skilled trade diversity recruiter; established aggressive goals for increasing the representation of women and individuals of color in its practices of hiring outside contractors; and developed and implemented an annual Skilled Trades Diversity Consortium that includes representatives from Cornell and from local unions, contractors, government officials and community organizations.
"We have been very pleased with the results of these concerted efforts," noted Chappell-Williams.
In 2005, the representation of women in the trades almost doubled from 2000 to 9 percent from 5 percent, and the representation of minorities had increased to almost 5 percent from 3 percent in the same period.
The OFCCP award reinforces Cornell's leadership role in outreach to veterans and individuals with disabilities: In 2004 and in 2006 Cornell was recognized by the New York State Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, and in 2005, was given honorable mention by GI Jobs as one of the top military-friendly employers.
Since 2004, the university has been taking additional steps to ensure that students, faculty and staff have equal access to all university programs and facilities, to provide assistance and accommodation and to further research and training in disability issues. Through the establishment of a disability task force, the university has created an informational Web page on services available to individuals with disabilities.
Cornell has also taken steps to increase the employment opportunities and visibility of veterans on campus: It has put its voluntary veteran identification form online and provided life cycle workshops for veterans in addition to co-hosting a program on women in the military in conjunction with ROTC.
Chappell-Williams noted, "Cornell is interested not just in numbers, though certainly those tell a story. We are even more interested in establishing long-term programs and systems that will increase diversity and create a culture of inclusiveness."
In announcing the awards, Lorenzo D. Harrison, director of OFCCP's Northeast Regional Office, said: "The awardees exemplify the mission and goals of OFCCP, which is responsible for ensuring that employers doing business with the federal government comply with the laws and regulations requiring nondiscrimination and affirmative action in employment. We are pleased to be able to give them the public recognition they deserve."