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Business Leadership Networks

A Program of the Office of Disability Employment Policy - U.S. Department of Labor

What are Business Leadership Networks?

Business Leadership Networks (BLNs) are part of a national initiative to engage employers in a focused effort to market the benefits of hiring qualified individuals with disabilities to other employers. The intent of BLN's is to have employers market to other employers the benefits of hiring qualified individuals with disabilities.

What are the benefits of BLNs to employers?

BLNs offers employers:

  • access to a pool of applicants with disabilities
  • pertinent disability employment information
  • a network of companies sharing information on specific disability employment issues
  • the opportunity to provide training and work experience for job seekers with disabilities
  • recognition for best disability employment practices
  • access to a largely untapped market for their goods and services.

Another benefit of the BLN is that it provides peer support to businesses interested in or considering hiring individuals with disabilities. Being able to ask their questions of a fellow business contact who has successfully employed individuals with disabilities can be less intimidating for the potential employer than speaking with a vocational counselor, and potential employers can feel that their peers are more able to address their "real life" business concerns.

"A local BLN is a valuable resource for employers who want to improve their hiring, training and support of employees with disabilities. The program hinges on a fundamental principle - success breeds success. When employers discuss the successes and benefits to their organizations of hiring job candidates with disabilities, then other employers are inspired to do the same."

-- From the Texas Gulf Coast BLN website

How can BLNs benefit One-Stop systems?

One-Stop Centers and systems can utilize their local BLN to assist in identifying and promoting employment opportunities for people with disabilities. BLNs allow One-Stop systems:

  • to tap into employment opportunities available from employers participating in the BLN
  • learn about issues related to employment of people with disabilities from the employer perspective.
  • to use the advocacy and sharing of expertise on an employer-to-employer basis that is a fundamental part of BLNs.

Who heads the BLN nationally?

The Head CEO for the BLN nationally is Thomas J. Donohue, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Donohue's role is to steer the expansion and growth of the BLN through alliances with state and local chambers of commerce.

What is the structure for local BLNs?

Each local BLN is lead by an employer, in concert with state Governor?s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and/or other community agencies.

Where are there BLNs?

As of October 2000, there were BLNs in 25 states. Some states, where the labor pool is geographically spread out, have more than one chapter. The eventual goal is to have BLNs across the United States.

How do I find out more?

For more information, and to find out if the status of the BLN in your state or local area, contact
Katherine McCary
Vice President, Employment
SunTrust Bank-Mid-Atlantic
919 East Main Street, 18th fl., HDQ 6418
Richmond, VA 23216
Voice: (804) 343 9571
Web site:

Annual National BLN Summit

One-Stop staff and other workforce professionals may be interested in attending the annual National BLN Summit. Schedule for upcoming years:

  • Des Moines, Iowa - October 22-24, 2001
  • Florida - 2002
  • California - 2003
  • Pennsylvania - 2004

BLN Web Sites

Note: Not all BLNs have websites