Belden’s Pathways to Employment Program Helps Future Employees Fight Opioid Addiction

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USCC Opioid Event
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Executive Vice President, Suzanne Clark, speaks with panel during the Chamber's recent event, "Combating the Opioid Crisis: From Communities to the Capital" (left to right): Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, Department of Health & Human Services; Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Anne Schuchat, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we believe businesses have a critical role to play in improving the communities where we live, work, and play. Because when communities do well, so does business. This same belief was the backdrop of a recent event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: From Communities to the Capital.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce convened businesses, the public sector, and local communities to explore the work that they are collectively undertaking to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States—a crisis that has been declared a public health emergency.

Among the influential speakers featured at the event was U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who spoke on his firm belief and operating principle that healthier communities are economically more prosperous communities. He communicated the value companies around the country can bring and are bringing to this issue through their programming, citing one such initiative by Belden Inc., Pathways to Employment.

Belden’s Pathways to Employment program is an example of how business can take action to fight the opioid crisis to strengthen both their community and their organization. Unfortunately, the circumstances that brought Belden’s efforts to Dr. Adams’ attention are familiar to manufacturers across America.

“Corporate Citizenship is an important part of Belden’s culture and working hand-in-hand with experts in Richmond, Indiana we have crafted a mechanism to support our neighbors,” said Belden CEO John Stroup.

The pilot program came about when Belden business leaders were frustrated and concerned by the increasing number of potential employees that failed the employment drug screen. With a limited talent pool in the Richmond area and higher than national average opioid addiction statistics, these leaders decided to take action.

Pathways to Employment offers applicants that fail pre-employment drug screens a tailored rehabilitation program. Successful participation will lead to a job at Belden once the rehabilitation program is completed and the individual commits to a substance-free lifestyle.

To design the program, Belden partnered with Dr. Mitch S. Rosenthal—addiction expert and founder of national nonprofit drug treatment organization Phoenix House—as well as community partners including Centerstone Indiana, Meridian Health Services, Ivy Tech Community College, and Manpower to design the program. Through these partnerships, Pathways addresses both the severe shortage of workers available and an opioid crisis that has had devastating effects on families and communities.

“Many companies need more workers and many promising workers need help leading drug-free lives. Employers and employees will find this is a real win-win solution,” said Dr. Rosenthal.

The program is still early in the pilot stage, as the first candidate just entered evaluation and treatment in February 2018. However, progress to date has been positive and promising.

As this pilot program evolves, Belden hopes to expand the program as needed to other Belden manufacturing facilities, as well as offer a model for other companies to follow. As seen in Richmond, Pathways is an excellent example of what dedicated leadership and effective cross-sector partnerships can bring to a local community.

To learn more about Belden’s Pathways to Employment program, please visit: