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Southern Business Leadership Council

A report commissioned by the Southern Institute on Children and Families A Profile of the Southern Economy: Living Standards, Economic Structure, and Lower Income Workers states that one out of five southern workers lives below 200% of the poverty level ($42,400 annual income for a family of four in 2007).  Families at or below this income level face daily struggles in meeting basic needs and the challenges they face can affect their stability and productivity on the job. Workforce issues faced by low-income individuals are reflected in high absenteeism, high turnover and low morale.  Low-income parents, especially single parents, are particularly susceptible to barriers that interfere with job stability. 

Children in low-income families are placed at greater risk due to unmet basic needs and these conditions place them at a disadvantage in many areas of child well-being.  Improving the employment stability of their parents and other caretakers contributes to a more stable family economic environment and greater opportunities for child development and educational achievement.

The Southern Institute established the Southern Business Leadership Council (SBLC) in 2002 to enfold the business sector in the development of solutions to the challenges facing low-income families. The SBLC is co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Wachovia Executive Vice President Anne Doss. It is composed of national, state and local business representatives. The SBLC is focused on developing research-based employment stability action strategies that will mutually benefit families and employers in communities across the South. 

Participation of business leaders elevates the goals of removing barriers faced by low-wage employees, improving their opportunities to be gainfully employed and increasing their abilities to meet the basic needs of their families. The Southern Institute is grateful for the leaders who serve on the SBLC and their willingness to work diligently towards these goals. With their leadership and involvement we can guide the South towards a more competitive position, both in terms of our workforce and the conditions in which our children and families live and work.

Southern Business Leadership Council Employment Stability Action Plan Initiative

The development of public and private sector action strategies requires knowledge from both workers and employers on issues that impact employment stability. A body of research is available on workforce stability barriers from the perspective of low-income individuals. There is less information on employer views regarding issues that affect the ability of low-wage workers, especially parents, to be stable and productive on the job. Having employer perspectives is a critical component in the development of public and private sector actions that support and promote employment stability.

To gather employer insight on issues and solutions related to employment stability, employer projects were conducted in selected southern communities. An analysis of all projects was developed to assist the SBLC in developing the southern regional blueprint for action, titled the Southern Business Leadership Council Employment Stability Action Plan. The Action Plan identifies local, state, federal and private sector policy issues to be addressed and will outline promising practices that can be replicated in states and communities across the South. The SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan Initiative is described in greater detail below:

Phase I of the SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan Initiative focused on research to gain employer views regarding issues that affect the ability of low-wage workers to be stable employees. In addition to the need to identify the barriers, it is equally important to identify strategies that hold promise in promoting stability in the low-wage workforce. The Southern Institute gained insight from local employers in communities across the South as Phase I of the initiative was completed.

The SBLC District of Columbia Metropolitan Area Employer Project was conducted in the spring of 2006 and a final project report was prepared by the Southern Institute. The SBLC Charlotte (NC) Employer Project began in January 2007 and the final project report was published in September 2007. The SBLC Upstate South Carolina Employer Project began in March 2007, and the final project report was published in August 2007.

Phase II of the Initiative includes preparation of a synthesis of research on barriers and strategies collected from the employer surveys, local employer dialogue sessions and additional sources to assist the SBLC in the development of the SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan. The three employer projects produced 251 in-depth telephone interviews with employers in the project areas.  In addition, Southern Institute staff researched employment stability barriers from the perspective of lower-wage workers. The SBLC is currently engaged in completing Phase II of the Action Plan which  identifies local, state, federal and private sector policy issues that need to be addressed and outlines promising practices that can be replicated in states and communities across the South.

Phase III of the Initiative will include high profile dissemination and promotion of the SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan.  Among the activities planned to promote the Action Plan is development of an SBLC Speaker’s Bureau.  SBLC members and other speakers will promote the Action Plan within their own industries, at local, state, regional and national business and professional meetings and to local, state and federal policymakers and public agencies.  Employers’ voices are influential within the business community and also among public policymakers, and they will play a critical role in the adoption of public and private sector policies and practices recommended in the SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan

Contributors

The following businesses and foundations have supported the SBLC Employment Stability Action Plan Initiative:

Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (In-kind)

AT&T

Bank of America

Bi-Lo

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

The Capital Group Companies

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated

Ford Foundation

GlaxoSmithKlein

Greenville Hospital System

Mary Black Foundation

Michelin North America

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (In-kind)

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Wachovia

Washington Area Women’s Foundation

 

© 2005-2011 Southern Institute on Children and Families
90-F Glenda Trace, Suite 326
Newnan, GA 30265
(803) 779-2607
 

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