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Serving Sensational SALSA at 2017 ILG National Conference

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The SALSA – Strategy, Access and Leadership in San Antonio – served to attendees of the 2017 ILG National Conference was sensational.  The event ran from August 1 – 4 and covered a wide variety of topics for U.S. federal contractors involved and interested in OFCCP and EEOC compliance.  Speakers included industry experts, HR, compensation, legal and talent acquisition professionals presenting on issues and information impacting affirmative action and equal opportunity employment.  In addition, the acting heads of the OFCCP and EEOC, Thomas Dowd and Victoria Lipnic, respectively provided engaging and open updates on the status and priorities of their organizations.

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Even more than prior years, there were an abundance of business-critical issues presented and discussed among the 850+ attendees gathered in San Antonio.  The key takeaways from this year’s event were focused on important OFCCP and EEOC updates, proposed OFCCP and EEOC merger, the revised EEO-1 reporting and pay equity. 

Let’s first “dip” into some of the highlights from Commissioner Lipnic and Deputy Director Dowd keynote addresses:

  • Ms. Lipnic reminded those in attendance this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act which protects applicants and employees ages 40 and over from discrimination in the workplace.  Currently, 1 in 5 people age 65+ are working and the majority of those are women. 
  • The EEOC is focused on recruitment efforts and how to better connect people to the training programs. 
  • EEOC is interested in companies that are making job opportunities available to all people and interested in studying innovative training solutions companies can provide to under-represented groups.
  • She also addressed the very public issues involving workplace civility, mentioning that the EEOC will make workplace civility training available to the public to help address the continuing issues with workplace harassment.
  • Mr. Dowd made it clear there must be a balance between compliance assistance and compliance evaluations and a general desire by the OFCCP to be available to help the federal contractor community achieve compliance in areas where they are deficient.  
  • He also highlighted that the overwhelming majority of federal contractors reviewed are found not discriminatory in their employment practices. 
  • Dowd also stated that he wants to talk with companies that have been effective in attracting Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans to highlight for other firms the best practice activities in attracting, training and retaining this population. 

Regarding the potential merger of the EEOC and OFCCP, there were “saucy” opinions on both sides regarding likely outcome, but the consensus seemed to be that a merger was unlikely because of opposition from business leaders and civil rights groups.

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There were some interesting insights provided to attendees in an OFCCP Panel, made up of Deputy Director Dowd and other senior leaders in the organization: 

  • There is a level of mistrust to a degree they did not know existed and they want to work to overcome the fear from engaging with the OFCCP. 
  • They stressed the need for the OFCCP to be transparent and collaborate with federal contractor community. 
  • OFCCP wants federal contractors to know the OFCCP’s job is not simply to ensure compliance but to assist contractors with understanding their obligations. 
  • They plan to develop more training for federal contractors and want to be advised of any issues contractors experience during audits.

There was a significant amount of conversation (and consternation) about the potential revised EEO-1 reporting requirements.  Some of the key points and suggestions from PeopleFluent’s presentation on “The Revised EEO-1 Report: Seeing the Trees and the Forest” on preparing for the new requirements included:

  • Examine the details of compiling required data, especially the new data elements needed for many firms, W-2 earnings and employee hours worked.
  • Determine upfront the potential challenges and pitfalls in integrating the new data elements from HRIS, compensation, payroll and timekeeping systems.
  • Develop and conduct “stress tests” and statistical analysis on your data now to prepare for potential audits.
  • Understand thoroughly the statistical picture your organization’s compensation practices would show the EEOC or OFCCP through the revised EEO-1 report.

Another frequent topic of discussion was pay equity and the heightened focus of both OFCCP and EEOC on closing the gender pay gap.  This included the impact to firms regarding the movement in several states and cities (led by California, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts, New York City and Philadelphia) to revise and toughen their equal pay laws.  Multiple presenters emphasized the multiple benefits realized through performing pay equity studies, including:

  • Being proactive, it is better you uncover pay issues, than reactive and faced with fines, back-pay and interest charges from the OFCCP
  • For international firms, some countries are now requiring reporting and posting on websites of gender pay information
  • Mitigating the potential for EEOC Equal Pay Act complaints

PeopleFluent presented on “College and Universities: Undertaking a Best-Practice Study of Pay Equity” -regarding the need for these schools to perform comprehensive pay equity studies to examine the fairness of their compensation practices.   While institutions of higher learning have unique issues to address in this area, many of the same practices and analyses are relevant to pay equity studies performed in other industries.

The 2017 ILG National Conference lived up to its billing and provided a focus for attendees on Strategy, Access and Leadership.  PeopleFluent also recently held a Webinar on the key takeaways from the ILG conferenceLearn more about PeopleFluent’s solutions available to support your Affirmative Action Program.

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