#PasstheFlame - Bank of America and Special Olympics
There are 200 million people in the world with intellectual disabilities (ID) — roughly 3% of the global population making it the world’s largest disability group and one of the most marginalized populations on the planet. Special Olympics exists to help individuals with ID break down barriers through the power of sports — and create a stronger, more inclusive world.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles presented an opportunity for long-term corporate partner Bank of America to take their 30-year partnership with Special Olympics to a new level. With a goal to create a global movement for inclusion and respect among employees, the company created a unique employee engagement program.
Together, the partners staged the first-ever Unified Relay Across America (URAA), where torch bearers and volunteers – including employees – helped walk, run and wheel the Flame of Hope torch across the United States to start the World Games.
The employee engagement program reinforced the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts globally and identified employees (including many intellectually disabled Support Services team members) as internal ambassadors to help organically drive the campaign and provide the emotion that fueled the program’s success.
Corporate leaders were engaged early and often so they could understand the rationale for the Special Olympics programming and how it tied to company strategy. “VIP-level activities” were created for execs featuring Special
Olympics leaders, Special Olympics athletes and golf clinics, where
senior leaders were paired with Special Olympics athletes during leader meetings.
All 215,000 employees were “touched” by Special Olympics using a variety of channels, events and volunteer opportunities including 80 local torch relay celebrations, intranet and video coverage of the relay featuring intellectually disabled employees as reporters. A daily blog authored by other employees with intellectual disabilities covered the World Games.
One Support Services employee was selected as a member of the U.S. bowling team competing in the World Games. Colleagues around the globe sent personal messages to him and he was recognized by the CEO during a company’s global town hall.
Special Olympics was also woven into other existing programs, including a wellness challenge, Global Service Month
and Employee Giving Campaign.
Nearly 4,500 employees in the United States, Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) gave their
time to Special Olympics, logging more than 32,000 volunteer hours with special activations created for employees
outside the U.S.