Government contractors and subcontractors know they’re required by OFCCP to prepare Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) every year.
But these plans are just one piece of the compliance puzzle.
By taking a deeper look into the essential components of a successful and complete Affirmative Action Program, you can decrease your risk of noncompliance and transform your AAP into a strategic asset.
So where to start when reviewing your Affirmative Action Program?
Here are 4 keys to expanding beyond AAP requirements and empowering your organization to unlock greater value from your workforce compliance program.
1. AAP Planning Process and Technology
If you are a service and supply contractor with 50 or more employees and have a contract or subcontract valued at $50,000 or more, you are subject to specific federal requirements—Executive Order 11246 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act—designed to prevent employment discrimination. If you hold contracts or subcontracts valued at $150,000 or more, your organization is also subject to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
According to these regulations, contractor must prepare a written Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) that outlines your organization’s structure, policies, practices, and programs to comply with these nondiscrimination laws and regulations, and provides statistical reports on the diversity of your workforce.
When preparing your AAP, don’t underestimate the time it takes to prepare and collect accurate data before the prior year plan’s expiration date. You don’t want to add additional stress to an already complex process by being crunched for time.
It’s important to note that, while your Affirmative Action Plan is an annual event, your Affirmative Action Program should be a continuous effort. This need for a year-round focus on affirmative action is driven chiefly by the need for accurate workforce data.
Both development of AAPs and reporting against goals articulated in your AAPs demand complete and accurate employee data—such as applicant dispositioning and movement within your organization. In order to maintain workforce data required for full OFCCP compliance, your Affirmative Action Program must encompass a deliberate approach to tracking and recording.
Not only does this ensure your organization will be prepared to respond in a timely manner to an OFCCP audit, it obviously improves your chances for a positive outcome.
For contractors with multiple locations, tracking and maintaining accurate employee data can be cumbersome without a software solution designed specifically to support your workforce compliance team. Even small and mid-sized contractors can benefit from investing in Affirmative Action planning software—through time savings for your compliance team and significant mitigation of risk.
2. Good Faith Efforts
Once your plan is completed, the next step is to develop action plans for your Good Faith Efforts (GFEs) and include them within your written narrative.
What’s a Good Faith Effort? Any activity designed to help achieve the goals in your AAP.
As part of your Affirmative Action Program, you must review and communicate the details of your outreach efforts you’ve identified. This may include
- Reviewing workforce compliance policies and processes
- Checking purchase orders/contracts
- Ensuring EEO taglines are placed appropriately, such as on purchase orders, career portals, and job advertisements
- Displaying required posters such as “EEO is the Law” and “FMLA” around your office
- Distributing your Affirmative Action Plan to the stakeholders responsible for contributing toward your diversity goals.
Equally important, your compliance team must thoroughly document and measure your Good Faith Efforts. Here again, if your company is audited, the OFCCP will request this documentation. In fact, recordkeeping violations are among the most common issues cited during audits.
Clearly, proactively and diligently keeping records of your Good Faith Efforts is critical to maintaining compliance. To manage all the documentation associated with GFEs, many companies turn to document management and GFE software solutions.
Also read: The Why, How, and What of Good Faith Efforts.
3. Employee Awareness Training
Let’s just cut to the chase.
Compliance and awareness training on affirmative action is a requirement, but unfortunately many companies take a check-the-box approach.
Whether you conduct live or online training sessions, compliance training can—and should—be much more.
When taken seriously, affirmative action training can instill in your leaders, recruiters, hiring managers, and employees a deeper understanding of compliance guidelines. And it can empower your workforce with a greater awareness of their colleagues’ perspectives and experiences.
When preparing your affirmative action and compliance training plan, consider how you’ll record employee progress and completion of required courses.
4. Adverse Impact Analysis
Recordkeeping, data collection, reporting, analysis, compliance policies and procedures, GFEs, employee awareness training, Affirmative Action planning software…
Ultimately, every element of your Affirmative Action Program aims to reduce your organization’s risk of noncompliance.
Another key to ensuring compliance is to proactively conduct an adverse impact analysis. To identify potential issues, prepare an impact ratio analysis for hiring decisions, as well as promotions and terminations.
If your proactive analysis uncovers adverse impact, your team must then review the individual components of your talent processes, per regulatory requirement.
And once again, year-round monitoring of your progress is important, as is routine analysis of your data. We recommend you conduct these adverse impact analyses quarterly or semiannually.
And if you do find an issue, develop and implement additional Good Faith Efforts or conduct additional training to mitigate risk in case of audit.
Moving from Compliance to Competitive Advantage
By investing in a robust approach to each of these 4 elements of your Affirmative Action Program, your company can ensure compliance and mitigate the risk that comes with an OFCCP audit.
Equally important, these investments can move your organization beyond mere compliance—developing a dynamic culture, energizing your employees, and seizing the myriad competitive benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.