For years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) kicked around the idea of a national education and outreach campaign to educate young people about their workplace rights and responsibilities. The idea made perfect sense. Young people are an underserved constituency of the EEOC, and as the segment of the workforce that had spent the least amount of time working, they also were the least informed about workplace etiquette. Enter Lynn Clements. This 33-year-old EEOC attorney took the idea and ran with it, and a few months later, the [email protected] outreach program was born.
Ms. Clements is relatively new to the EEOC. After graduating from law school, she joined the Washington, DC office of a large national law firm where she practiced general civil litigation and labor and employment law. But perhaps this was not her true calling. In 2001, she left a lucrative position at the largest firm in Maryland to work on employment law policy at the EEOC.
The [email protected] Initiative is the signature project of her work at EEOC. With only a broad brush outline of a youth education program from the Vice Chair of the Commission to guide her, she made this idea a reality.
The key to her success has been identifying ways to get this information to young audiences. First, she helped create an eye-popping website, the only site supported by EEOC other than its home page. This involved everything from creating the content for the website to designing a logo.
She created a marketing plan that included a brochure, giveaways like key chains and mouse pads and a 45-minute script for presentations to young audiences.
She also developed a plan to have a [email protected] event somewhere in the country every week for 52 weeks, a seemingly ambitious goal that turned out to be too modest. EEOC field offices have embraced the [email protected] program, and currently 5 to 10 events are being conducted every week, all across the country.
The [email protected] initiative benefits both young people and employers. The initiative enables young workers to enter and navigate the professional world, confident in their employer’s expectations of them and obligations to them. In particular, they learn how to protect themselves against workplace discrimination and the process for reporting unacceptable behavior. The initiative benefits employers because they gain a better informed workforce enhancing the odds that the workplace will be free from inappropriate and illegal behavior. Another benefit of the program is reduced litigation. Furthermore, the initiative instills the importance of diversity, respect and tolerance in teens, who will carry this knowledge with them throughout their careers as workers and managers.
Ms. Clements developed [email protected] with a limited budget and a small team of EEOC interns. She assigned leaders of her team to different aspects of the project and encouraged everyone to share ideas and jump in to help others. She instilled within them a great sense of teamwork, proving that she is not only an excellent attorney but a superior manager.
Lynn Clements was exactly the catalyst that EEOC needed to accomplish in one summer what had been on the agenda for a few years—not a bad opening act for one of our government’s most promising young workers.