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Project of the Week – Federally Employed Women and the National Training Program

This week’s Project of the Week features the Federally Employed Women organization. Thanks to GovLoop member Patt Franc and to Sue Webster and Rachel Combs of FEW for sharing their story.

Federally Employed Women (FEW) is 4000 members strong and is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1968 after the issuance of Executive Order 11375 that added “sex” to the prohibited discriminations within the federal government. FEW works to end sex discrimination and towards the advancement of women in federal service by

• encouraging diversity and equity in the workplace
• enhancing career opportunities
• establishing and maintaining relationships with organizations to advocate the fair application of laws, policies, procedures and practices
• improving the quality of life for women by influencing legislative actions
• committing to maintain a unified and diverse membership and
• providing opportunities for professional growth.

FEW focuses on four areas:

Compliance: FEW’s compliance activities allow us to acquire information and data to determine conformance and to work toward ensuring that weakness in the application of existing laws surface and are remedied. The Compliance Program complements FEW’s legislative mission to endorse the concerns and interests of women in the federal workforce and to present them to the legislative bodies. Ideally, Compliance Program activities should serve as a catalyst for input/changes to FEW’s National Legislative Agenda. More importantly, FEW’s Compliance Program serves as a means for awareness of government performance with the Congressional intent to ensure Equal Opportunity.

Diversity: FEW’s Diversity Program develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers within the federal government. FEW examines the demographics of the workforce according to age, race, sex, ethnic background, religious affiliation, disability and sexual orientation and seeks to expand the notion of cultural groups beyond the categories protected by law and regulation to include socioeconomic status, body-size diversity and family composition. Diversity relates to Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity legislation but strives to exceed the mandates of the employment laws. FEW’s philosophy regarding diversity is all about results. FEW’s National Training Program offers and conducts diversity training annually.

Legislative: FEW develops and maintains a dynamic Legislative Program at the National, Regional and Chapter levels, working in concert with FEW’s mission and goals of representing federally employed women’s concerns and interests before legislative and judicial bodies.
Chapters and members’ legislative activities are geared toward FEW’s Legislative Agenda that coincides with each two-year Congressional session and is based on the following three tiers;
• Tier I issues are considered of utmost importance to female federal workers.
• Tier II issues have an impact on all federal employees, regardless of gender.
• Tier III issues affect women as a class.

Training: FEW conducts a variety of training programs geared to the needs of the specific level of the organization responsible for planning and conducting the training. Chapters provide initial orientation training to new members in four emphasis areas within one year of their membership.
• Sex Discrimination/Sexual Harassment
• Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaints Process
• Cultural Diversity
• Legislative Process

Regions offer training in the emphasis areas at Regional Training Programs and/or at a Regional orientation for new members.

FEW’s National Training Program, conducted each year in July, is FEW’s premiere training event and offers a multitude of training topics ranging from skill-building and career development to leadership training and supervisory and management techniques and from general personnel policies to specific procedures relating to sex discrimination and sexual harassment. This event also provides a unique networking opportunity for federal employees across the country. This year’s Training Program marks the organization’s 40th and is being held July 20 – 24 in Orlando, FL. More information can be found here.

FEW has a continuing commitment to ensure all individuals have equal access to training opportunities and to provide equal opportunity for people with disabilities to participate in all FEW-sponsored training.

National Officers are always available to act as resources regarding the interpretation of National policy, to serve as trainers and to participate in discussions with others regarding FEW’s training programs.

FEW is finishing the first year of a strategic planning initiative that focused on leadership, membership, partnerships, and fiscal security. This effort also includes a Think Tank initiative which includes a team looking out five years to lead the organization into the future. FEW has had teams looking at these initiatives and they recently brought forth recommendations for improvements for our members and potential members. FEW anticipates implementing those changes over the next few months. The Think Tank will focus on the following goals and objectives:
• Planning for 2012 and beyond with innovative solutions and approaches
• Finish discovery based on what goals aren’t being selected for Partnerships, Fiscal Security, Leadership, and Membership
• Continuing Discovery for the interim

The goal is to ensure FEW is the organization of choice for leadership, equity, and the advancement of women.

Significant accomplishments –

“Our Legislative focus area is one we take great pride in. Successes include the recent passage of the Paid Parental Leave Act HR 626.”

The Federal Women’s Program (FWP) and lack of focus in federal agencies has been a huge focus for FEW during our existence for our 40 years. This past year we have focused on this issue and have gained a great deal of visibility on this issue but still have a long way to go in gaining support at all levels. We would like to see an Executive Order from the President and guidance issued to agencies on requirements for FWPMs.

40 years of outstanding training offered during our National Training Programs. Continued outstanding training programs at all levels of FEW – Chapters, Regions, National.

Challenges? Getting the word out about FEW to agencies, employees. We continually visit agencies, speak to employees, hold programs, etc. and yet continue to hear from individuals that they have never heard of FEW. This is a challenge.

– Gaining support for our legislative program and issues. Government Pension Offset/Windfall Elimination Provision Repeal Bill remain on our Tier I list as does passage of the Equal Rights amendment.

– Lack of training, upward mobility, mentoring for our members.

– Reaching younger members – how do we encourage the new workforce that FEW is working for their benefit and get them involved?

Membership is open to any person who supports the mission and purpose of FEW upon payment of dues. FEW’s membership consists primarily of people employed or retired from the federal government and active or retired government contractors. All members join through local Chapters. Members are either regular, honorary or lifetime. On line membership is available at www.few.org. Regular dues are currently $45.00 per year.

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linda perry

My agency is undergoing severe budget cuts so ther isno money for any extras at all. We do however have a union.

Patt Franc

FEW’s efforts to look into why the Federal Women’s Program has seemingly disappeared in many agencies began with a Resolution from the membership in July 2008. Much has been done including meetings with EEOC, OPM and the new White House Council on Women and Girls to surface the issue. Stay tuned to the FWP page on FEW’s website http://few.org/few_fwp.asp for the latest updates and info. If you are an FWPM, you can join our database from this page! Having an Federal Women’s Program is not a budget-cutting option!

Judy Freeman

This will be the third FEW Conference that I have attended. For me, the Conference is not only about numerous training opportunities, it’s also about seeking and finding the support and commaraderie not found at my present employment site. It’s a place where future dreams and possibilities are born as a result of networking with present members and past leaders. It’s a place to find quality mentors. It’s a place where each one, teaches one. Go. You will be awed and inspired – not only during the Conference, but for many years to come. Don’t pass up this awesome opportunity to experience training and support only found with FEW.