Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2008 (LAWFUEL) – The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that Deborah K. Balducchi, the longest-serving director of its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office, will retire in January 2009 after leading the SEC’s substantial efforts to promote diversity in the workplace, and helping the agency earn accolades as one of the best places to work in the federal government.
Under Ms. Balducchi’s leadership since 1996, the EEO Office works to ensure that the agency’s professional staff is comprised of diverse backgrounds that reflect the diversity of the investing public. The EEO Office’s primary mission is to prevent employment discrimination and harassment, and ensure that all SEC employees have the working environment necessary to support their efforts to protect investors, maintain orderly markets, and promote capital formation.
As EEO Director, Ms. Balducchi guided the launch of an agency-wide diversity program with the goal of making the SEC the “Employer of Choice.” Her efforts have significantly increased participation in the SEC’s Special Emphasis Program Committees that sponsor cultural and educational programs and provide networking, mentoring, and outreach opportunities for employees. Ms. Balducchi also spearheaded the development of training programs to prevent discrimination or harassment and to educate staff about SEC accommodation procedures and their rights under the No FEAR Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cited the SEC’s reasonable accommodation procedures as a model for other federal agencies.
“With her sincere dedication to diversity and her proactive approach to ensuring a fair and problem-free workplace, Deborah Balducchi has made a tremendous impact on the SEC and its ability to attract a diverse and top-notch staff to serve the needs of investors and our markets,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. “While her strong leadership will be sorely missed as she concludes her remarkable career of public service, the training initiatives she has implemented and the outstanding contributions she has made to our cohesive working environment will continue to have a lasting effect at this agency. Deborah can be very proud of her accomplishments as well as the recognition that the SEC has received as one of the best places to work in government.”
Ms. Balducchi said, “It has been a privilege to work with SEC’s talented and dedicated staff and I am very proud of the accomplishments of the EEO Office. Working under the leadership of Chairman Cox has been a distinct honor, and his support for equality and making the SEC the ‘Employer of Choice’ has been invaluable.”
The SEC has been ranked among the top five best places to work in the federal government since 2005 by the Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (ISPPI). For 2007, the SEC placed third in the Best Places to Work rankings, its highest rating ever. The rankings, compiled every other year, use data from a survey of federal employees administered by the Office of Personnel Management.
After Ms. Balducchi was appointed EEO Director by former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt in 1996, the EEO Office eliminated a backlog of complaints and turned its primary focus to proactive measures to prevent discrimination and harassment. Ms. Balducchi established a Preventing Harassment Policy and a protocol for conducting prompt inquiries into allegations of harassment on any EEO basis. The protocol resulted in reducing the number of formal complaints and ensuring that harassment allegations were promptly addressed.
This year, the EEO Office established a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Committee, and last month the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Lawyers of Washington (GAYLAW) selected the SEC as a recipient of their Distinguished in Diversity Award. The SEC is the first public sector institution to receive the award, which recognized the SEC’s commitment to diversity in the workplace and acknowledged the SEC as a model employer in its outreach to the GLBT community.
Other SEC Special Emphasis Program Committees include the African American Council, the American Indian Heritage Committee, Asian Pacific American Program Committee, Disability Issues Advisory Committee, Hispanic Employment Program Committee, and Women’s Committee. Keynote speakers for annual program events have included former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Congressman Barney Frank, former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, journalist Cokie Roberts, Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, former EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez, and Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools Michelle Rhee.
Ms. Balducchi joined the SEC in 1992 as a Special Assistant to the Associate Executive Director of the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management. She also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Filings and Information Services prior to her appointment as EEO Director. Ms. Balducchi previously worked for 18 years at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She was responsible for monitoring the compliance of government contractors with EEO laws and regulations. Ms. Balducchi will retire from the SEC with 35 years of total federal government service.