Good morning everyone. What a wonderful celebration today. Let's all give a round of applause to Kathy and the diversity day team that put this event together.
The cultural and ethnic diversity of our agency is one of our greatest strengths. Since our work touches the lives of every family, it is imperative that CPSC be representative of those who we work to protect. I believe that we are.
With roots in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Cherokee Nation, Brazil, France, and all across our great country, there is remarkable diversity within our workforce.
With belief ranging from Christianity to Judaism, Catholicism to Islam, there is true diversity within our team.
Dr. Maya Angelou, who recently spoke at the National Urban League's 100th Anniversary Conference, once stated: "We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color."
Every one of you has contributed to our tapestry and it is reflected in a blend of colors that we celebrate here today.
As part of our tapestry we have a Rana and a Saba.
We have a Sondra and some Sandras.
We have quite a few Marys and some good guys named Denny and Perry.
We can talk about databases and technologies, but in the end we are a people-driven, people-inspired agency.
So, what is the intersection between the diversity of our workforce and the drive to meet our mission?
Well, I believe the life skills and life experiences all of you bring to your jobs help the agency as we conduct investigations and have to relate to families in inner cities and rural communities.
It helps us provide a quality service to non English speakers who contact the agency.
It helps us appreciate the protocols and customs that must be respected in our work with foreign governments and businesses.
We should certainly celebrate our diversity, but we also must use it to pursue a greater good.
It is in that spirit that I made minority outreach one of top priorities of the agency this year. This initiative is based around a central premise that every consumer, no matter where they live, no matter their circumstances, deserves equal access to information that can keep themselves and their family safe.
Your colleagues Nikki, Kim, Arlene and Sonia are carrying out this valuable effort. They chose four hazard areas to focus on:
Drowning Prevention, and
Furniture and TV Tipovers.
The campaign has been a success so far, because Nikki, Kim, Arlene and Sonia hit the road and joined forces with many of your colleagues in the field.
They went to the Jazz in the Gardens event in Miami, the National Council of La Raza conference in San Antonio, the Red Earth Native American Festival in Oklahoma City, the Asian Pacific Heritage celebration in New York City, and most recently, the National Urban League's Centennial Conference in Washington.
As a result of participating in these events, we have thousands of new Neighborhood Safety Network members and recipients of our recall alerts. We have new partners in local government, Congressional offices, universities, and local chapters of organizations that serve the African American and Hispanic communities.
Most importantly, there are thousands of consumers who may have never heard of our great agency, but attended their place of worship this past weekend and used one of these fans which has vital safe sleep advice.
Or they received a free tote bag that was stuffed with lifesaving information and now know our website and talked to their friends about it.
There are more community events that we will be going to in the Fall and I assure you that we will keep this campaign going in 2011.
I also want to recognize the work being done by our outstanding epidemiologists. Led by Tom Schroeder, EPI is working with the NEISS hospitals to have them provide us information about ethnicity as part of their incident reporting.
Those of you who were here back in the 1990s most likely remember that special studies were conducted that brought to light special risks posed to certain groups.
Well, the more detailed the data that we can collect, the better the decisions we can make about where to focus our prevention efforts.
For example, did you know that CDC has documented disparities in child drowning rates by race? From 2000 through 2007, CDC found the drowning rate of black children was 3.1 times higher than whites.
And a 2008 study conducted by USA Swimming found that 58 percent of black children were unable to swim. That is more than two times the percentage of white children who couldn't swim.
This is important information which is driving decisions about how we carry out and promote our Pool Safely campaign.
I want to recognize the leadership being shown by Janell in my office, as she is seeking to bring good science together with effective communications in order to address disparities in injury rates.
I want to close my remarks today by posing a challenge to all of you. Let's not make Diversity Day just a one day recognition of our shared values. No matter what your job is, find a way to contribute to our minority outreach initiative. Either contact the minority outreach team with an idea or find your own way to contribute to our effort within your community.
In addition, staff and managers are always encouraged to contact Kathy or Debbie in EEO if you have any ideas to help promote diversity within our recruitment efforts.
Thank you for giving me a few minutes to talk to you this morning and I really hope everyone enjoys the amazing array of entertainment that is scheduled to perform.
And thank you for your great work. We are a diverse people with a singular mission and you are all doing a great job of helping us meet our mission.