I recommend The HR Consultant for OFCCP audits and setting up compliant AAPs and more. They are very efficient, very knowledgeable, and in addition to being strong professionals, very honorable as evident through their significant and commendable work and success with Komen.

Ellen Menking Hess
Owner, EM Resource Group
 
 
   
 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA)?

Who oversees Affirmative Action?

Isn’t Affirmative Action going away? Haven’t the courts found it to be illegal?

As employers we’re asked not to consider race and gender when making employment decisions, but Affirmative Action asks us to consider race and gender. How do I balance that?

Do I have “quotas” I must meet?

Our industry is located in an area that is not very racially diverse. How can I achieve my goals?

I have jobs in my organization that are traditionally “men’s work.” Women aren’t attracted to them because the working conditions are not good and they require heavy physical labor. What can I do to get females interested in my jobs?

Our facility doesn’t have a government contract, but others in our organization do. Do we all have to do an AAP?

What is a good faith effort?

What are some ideas for good faith efforts?

Isn’t Affirmative Action human resources’ job?

How do my local efforts coordinate with corporate staffing efforts?

Are the Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) submitted to any agency?

Can employees view the AAP?

What are certification letters that I receive from other companies – vendors/customers? Should I fill those out?

Are we supposed to let our vendors know that we are an Affirmative Action employer?

How does a union environment affect Affirmative Action?

How do I get selected for audit?

What happens during an audit?

What are the penalties if we’re out of compliance?

What happens if I don’t meet my Affirmative Action goals?

Do I have to hire less qualified people because we are an Affirmative Action employee?

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What is the difference between Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA)?
EEO means ensuring that all applicants have equal access to employment and selection processes; Affirmative Action goes beyond nondiscrimination and requires federal contractors to engage in additional efforts to reach out to minorities and females and make them aware of employment and promotional opportunities.

Who oversees Affirmative Action?

The United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) oversees Affirmative Action. Some states and municipalities also require Affirmative Action compliance.

Isn’t Affirmative Action going away? Haven’t the courts found it to be illegal?

No. Affirmative Action in employment for federal contractors and subcontractors is alive and well. Affirmative Action continues to be challenged in the courts in areas of procurement set-asides and education targets in college admissions with mixed results. However, in the employment realm, Affirmative Action remains strong.

As employers we’re asked not to consider race and gender when making employment decisions, but Affirmative Action asks us to consider race and gender. How do I balance that?
Equal Employment Opportunity laws require employers to have gender and race neutral policies and procedures. Affirmative Action regulations do not run contrary to these principles. However, as an Affirmative Action employer there is an additional requirement to analyze the marketplace and develop a strategy for opening up opportunities to diverse groups. Affirmative Action requires an employer to make a good faith effort towards employing a representative workforce.

Do I have “quotas” I must meet?

You don’t have quotas and there really is no such thing as quotas in Affirmative Action. Instead, there are numeric targets (typically percentages) established that are consistent with the marketplace. Good faith efforts need to be made toward them. Quotas are only established when an employer has been ordered by a court to have them (a rare occasion).

Our industry is located in an area that is not very racially diverse. How can I achieve my goals?
Your statistics for determining underutilization are taken from the markets that you recruit from and for the kinds of jobs in your organization. What have you done to try and reach those markets? If traditional means of recruitment are not working, you will need to explore alternate means – via community organizations, publications aimed at different market segments, etc.

I have jobs in my organization that are traditionally “men’s work.” Women aren’t attracted to it because the working conditions are not good and it requires heavy physical labor. What can I do to get females interested in my jobs?

If you have jobs like this, typically it takes a certain kind of person, male or female, to be attracted to it. For this kind of job, the first order of business is to get rid of your stereotype of “men’s” and “women’s” work – and view it as physically challenging work. You may have to explore non-traditional types of recruitment – can you target and train internal candidates to move into that role? Do you advertise your openings in venues where other nontraditional workers may be employed? Can you tap into another industry that has similar types of jobs? Are you making a good faith effort? If you can demonstrate that, you are meeting your obligations under Affirmative Action.

Our facility doesn’t have a government contract, but others do. Do we all have to do an AAP?

Yes. One contract or subcontract puts the entire organization under the Executive Order.

What is a good faith effort?
Any effort that seeks to include more females or minorities into the selection pool; typically this involves recruitment or development efforts not otherwise done in the past. These efforts should always be documented.

What are some ideas for good faith efforts?
Think outside the usual way that you recruit and/or promote people in your organization.

  • Recruit at historically minority or female colleges/universities

  • Provide internships through minority or female organizations

  • Open up apprenticeship programs to people within the organization

  • Identify high potential minority/female candidates within the organization and providing them with development opportunities

  • Utilize media that reach different market segments

  • Develop relationships with community organizations capable of referrals in the female/minority communities

  • Utilize females/minorities within the organization to assist with efforts


  • Isn’t Affirmative Action human resources’ job?

    NO! In an audit situation, HR will be assisting you, but the auditor wants to talk to managers and supervisors who are making decisions. Human resources personnel partner with managers who are ultimately responsible.

    How do my local efforts coordinate with corporate staffing efforts?
    You should be aware of your underutilized areas and develop a greater pool of females and minorities in the affected areas. Local management should develop relationships within the community and also devise strategies to develop employees already in the organization.

    Are the Affirmative Action Plans submitted to any agency?
    They are only submitted to a federal agency upon request — typically during an audit. Some bids require the submission of an AAP and some state/local agencies may request a copy of the AAP. Some parts of the AAP are confidential.

    Can employees view the AAP?
    The AAP contains confidential proprietary information including salary data and organizational structure. Employees are permitted to view the text portion of the AAP only.

    What are certification letters that I receive from other companies — vendors/customers? Should I fill those out?
    Certification letters are notifications from other companies letting you know that they are an Affirmative Action employer and as a result, you might be too.

    Are we supposed to be letting our vendors know that we are an Affirmative Action employer?
    Yes, it can be done via contracts and purchase orders or by sending certification letters.

    How does a union environment affect Affirmative Action?
    In a union environment, movement between job groups and compensation may be limited by the collective bargaining agreement, in which case a copy of the agreement and the limitations are explained to the Department of Labor. Union leaders must be notified that the company is an Affirmative Action employer, as they may have joint responsibility in some of the issues affecting Affirmative Action.

    How do I get selected for audit?
    Various methods are used. Sometimes a company is selected because they get a multi-million dollar contract; sometimes it’s based on EEO reporting statistics going up or down; sometimes there are industry targets; sometimes it’s based on complaints to the Department of Labor or prior audits – and mostly it’s luck of the draw.

    What happens during an audit?
    Requested information is sent which includes a copy of the AAP, as well as union agreements, government reports and employment data (hires, promotions, terminations and applicant flow); goal attainment analysis and good faith efforts are forwarded. Compensation equity analysis is also sent. The compliance officer may set up an on-site visit that can last from 2-10 days – typically 4 days. During the on-site, managers and employees may be interviewed. Non-exempt employees can be interviewed without management present. Files are reviewed; facilities are toured.

    What are the penalties if we’re out of compliance?

    Penalties depend on the type of violation found. They can range from increased government reporting and scrutiny to back pay with interest and fines, depending upon the infraction.

    What happens if I don’t meet my goals?
    As long as you can demonstrate that you have made good faith efforts, there should be no penalty; there is recognition that goal attainment takes time, especially in a company that has been around for a long time. These efforts should be documented.

    Do I have to hire less qualified people because we are an Affirmative Action employer?
    No. AA does not require an employer to hire lesser qualified people. It does require the contractor to make a good faith effort to be more representative if goals exist.

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