Slacking on OFCCP Compliance



Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

By the fall of 2013, those of us in the federal contractor community were made aware of some significant changes coming down from the OFCCP. In good old OFCCP fashion, we were inundated with several new directives that were proposed with very little guidance to employers. Of course all of the major employment law firms went to town developing webinars and the like. Unfortunately, those did little to ease employer’s pains and added to the growing number of contractors in a vegetative state over the new compliance requirements. In January of 2014, I went to a conference in San Francisco to give a concurrent session as well as lead a roundtable on diversity and inclusion. During my roundtable, I asked for a show of hands as I attempted to ascertain how many federal contractors I had at the table.

What I found fascinating was all of the participants were federal contractors and when asked if they started reviewing and planning to comply by March 24th of 2014 as stipulated-they all gave me a resounding “no”. I attempted not to look astonished but nevertheless I continued sharing tidbits about things I was doing to get ahead of the new outreach and recruitment efforts analysis requirements. They all swore they were going to be on top of it when they returned to the office. I certainly hope that was true.

That was then and this is now…

We are now nearly one year into the new compliance and I still hear murmurs of companies not getting in OFCCP shape. If you haven’t started or are taking your sweet time- wake up! The audit list now has 22 items  you will be responsible for. Get ahead of it now and lessen your pain when you inevitably receive your notice.

My fellow HR colleagues usually hate me for this-but I believe that much of the pain felt in complying with OFCCP regulations is due to how we approach it. When you see these regulations as onerous ( and I agree some of it is) and fail to see what you get in return for your compliance (which is government money)- you will ultimately procrastinate in doing what is needed. If you treat hiring of minorities, females, individuals with disabilities and veterans as quotas, you will always be in a rut of trying to explain why your AAP goals don’t budge year to year. When you receive government money it is only right that you be held to a higher standard with regard to how you do business. If you take a little bit at a time and approach the requirements as both a business imperative and priority-it will become less burdensome.

Here are five pieces of OFCCP compliance that employers are slacking on:

1) Is your outreach and recruitment efforts rooted in quality or quantity ? You need to be consistently auditing your diversity outreach and recruitment process to see what works and what doesn’t. If you identify outreach activities that aren’t yielding candidates or hires- you need to be proactive and cease utilizing that outreach.

2) Have you revised your self-identification forms yet? According to the new regulations, you need to be asking applicants to self-identify both pre and post offer. This includes updates to include self-identification for Individuals with Disabilities (IWD). Get your OMB-Approved form here.

3) How are you handling reasonable accommodation requests during the hiring process? Be sure that your ATS works well with assistive devices and technologies in an effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities are give equal opportunity to apply and be considered for vacancies.

4)  Have they added your EO clause to all subcontracts? Get purchasing involved! This is another requirement that contractors are overlooking. Equal Opportunity clauses must be added to subcontracts, along with language that explains subcontractors obligations as a federal contractor.

5) What’s your hiring benchmark? The 7% goal for IWDs’ is a lofty goal for many businesses. My advice is set your benchmark and make sure it is attainable. If you set it at 5-6% you are just slightly below 7% and it looks admirable that you attempted to get close. It remains to be seen whether contractors will be penalized for playing it safe here.

Now that you have some food for thought, prepare yourself by doing mock audits. Also, encourage your recruitment teams to regularly audit their activities and raise any issues ahead of time so you can tweak things prior to an onsite or offsite audit. Good luck!

LASHRM 2014 Snippet: Don’t Talk About Diversity-Show Me Diversity

In just a few days, I will descend upon Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a speaker for the Louisiana SHRM State Conference.  My session is entitled: Get Real About Your Good Faith Efforts- What The OFCCP Really Expects From Employers. Some of the most significant changes in OFCCP guidance will take place this year. Federal contractors everywhere are frantically watching every webinar, attending every breakfast meeting and are quite handsomely paying employment lawyers to help them comply with the new regulations.

I could have addressed the new regulations and spelled them out in plain English to the best of my ability, but you all know by now I don’t do the status quo.

My hope for this session is much bigger and broader.

Yes, the new regulations are onerous, but have you asked yourself why? I have heard so many practitioners carrying on about how these new regulations are not achievable and how the federal money they receive in return may or may not be worth the hassle for what the government wants from us.

Newsflash: There is a rich history of how all of these regulations came to be. Each of them delegated out as executive orders by the presidents of the time due mostly to the injustices being experienced by women and minorities in the workforce. These new regulations- are yet another instance where regulation was needed to decrease the numbers of differently-abled and veteran applicants that have recently been discounted, ignored or outcast by employers in recent years.

It amazes me- that until now, most federal contractors and even regular companies slap an EEO tagline on their website and put up a few stock photos of an Asian, African-American , someone in a wheelchair etc. all for the value of giving the appearance that they value diversity. I say if you truly value diversity, let me see your C-suite makeup.  Let me see your employee ecosystem; more importantly- let me see your outreach efforts also known as “good faith efforts”. Some other considerations, are you paying everyone based on a consistent and logical model? How about hiring? How far do you go to ensure a diverse applicant pool?

I suspect that the OFCCP and government are just as tired as I am of companies doing the bare minimum to appear compliant. They are essentially saying to each of us federal contractors- don’t talk about diversity; show me diversity.

I present on Monday, April 7th from 10:30-11:45 am. Attendees will leave my session with an alternate way of approaching these guidelines, good faith efforts and hopefully diversity within their organizations.

I’m looking forward to a spirited conversation on this topic- as well as  engaging with all of the attendees. If you cannot make it, please follow the #RealGFE session hashtag on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to check out the #Czarinatravels hashtag to keep up with my travel adventures.

Want more hashtag craziness? Follow #PICHR, #ePIC, #LASHRM14 and #goodfaith to follow the conference and all associated events.

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