Making Sense of Diversity Recruiting Changes & the OFCCP

OFCCP, diversity

This article is part of an ongoing series on diversity recruitment. Subscribe to our RSS feed to be informed the next time a diversity resource goes live. 

Diversity recruiting is changing. Actually, it has already changed and since 2014, OFCCP compliance has changed in some dramatic ways. There was a time when good faith efforts, somewhat passive efforts were enough, but we’re in a time when diversity recruiting requires strategy and relationship building. The realm of diversity recruiting has also moved from strictly a compliance issue to leaders realizing it’s incredibly beneficial for organizations to be diverse. It’s no longer what a company must do – it’s what companies wants to do. However, compliance is still an essential piece because it holds companies accountable and ensures that even companies whose leaders have less than favorable opinions about diversity in the workplace are giving everyone an opportunity.

What Does OFCCP Stand For?

OFCCP stands for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.  The OFCCP was created in 1978 with Executive Order 12086 by President Jimmy Carter through a consolidation of all the Affirmative Action enforcement responsibilities at each federal agency with Executive Order 11246 to the United States Secretary of Labor. OFCCP’s job is to guide, enforce and administer equal employment opportunity by employers who are federal contractors as directed by three acts:

These authorities prohibit Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and protected veteran status. They also require Federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity in their employment processes.

In 2014, the OFCCP, announced some changes to its regulations, including the Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. VEVRAA and 503 are just two of the many regulation changes enforced as of March 2014 by the OFCCP. The changes are complex and after a few years still left scratching our heads. You’ll see what I mean in the bulleted list below. No matter what your focus, whether compliance or desiring a diverse workforce, it takes action. Building an affirmative action plan also known as an AAP, maintaining compliance with the OFCCP and reaching diverse candidates calls for engagement, and relating to and establishing a connection with potential candidates within different diversity groups, both externally and internally. All companies should be considering using diversity recruiting programs to move beyond group-think, expand horizons and bring forth new ideas between employees, customers and the company as a whole.

When, What and How Things Changed for Federal Contractors

As I mentioned the changes which began in 2014 have been complex and it’s been confusing especially if as a federal contractor or subcontractor you didn’t get the memo till after things began to change. In order to shed some light on the changes, I have decided to break them down in a bulleted list and by year for your affirmative action plan and AAP.

Changes as of 2014

  • Updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and VEVRAA regulatory changes that affect affirmative action programs (AAPs) for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans took effect March 24, 2014.
  • Federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts in excess of $10,000 must take affirmative action to employ and advance employment-qualified individuals with disabilities. Contractors who have 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in federal contracts or subcontracts must annually prepare a written affirmative action plan for individuals with disabilities.
  • Federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts worth $100,000 or more must take affirmative action to employ and advance employment-qualified, protected veterans. The threshold for preparing a written affirmative action plan for veterans is $100,000 or more in contracts and 50 or more employees.
  • Employers are required to include the spelling out of “veteran” and “disabled” in equal employment opportunity (EEO) taglines in job advertisements, national utilization goals for Section 503 AAPs and hiring benchmarks for VEVRAA AAPs.  invitations to self-identify veteran and disability status at the applicant stage, and the collection of applicant and hiring data for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.
  •  Employers must extend candidate invitations to self-identify veteran and disability status at the applicant stage, and the collection of applicant and hiring data for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Changes as of 2015

  • Federal contractors and subcontractors must treat applicants and employees without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Contractors must list “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” any time protected classifications are referenced.
  • Contractors are also required to post the “EEO is the Law” poster supplement, along with the “EEO is the Law” poster, until the OFCCP and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) update the language.

Changes as of 2016 

  • Comply with EO 13665 (pay transparency final rule), which amended the equal opportunity clause (41 CFR 60-1.4) to add reference to the new prohibition regarding compensation.
  • New verbiage must be included in contracts and purchase orders, as well as post the prescribed language within employee manuals and handbooks and on all company websites and employment applications.

Even now, things continue to change especially in light of the government hiring freeze which will surely impact the number of employment audits and support not to mention we have just entered a new presidential administration and while President Trump has suggested no major changes to diversity and AAP compliance, you never know which is why I’m shining light on the subject of diversity. It’s a hot topic in the media and yet many times we are forgetting or failing to understand the obligations employers have from the compliance and employment law side of things.

This article is part of an ongoing series on diversity recruitment. Subscribe to our RSS feed to be informed the next time a diversity resource goes live. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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