If you are a government contractor or subcontractor, then you know that you are required by the OFCCP to prepare annual Affirmative Action Plans for your company every year. However, these plans are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to compliance.
By taking a deeper look into the essential components of a successful and complete Affirmative Action Program (AAP) and applying them to your own AAP, you can leverage your plan as a strategic asset for your business goals, while also decreasing your risk of noncompliance with the OFCCP.
But where should you start? Expand your company’s concept of compliance to these four key areas, and you can turn your plan into a truly compliant Affirmative Action Program.
Key 1: AAP Plan Process and Methodology
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 ($100,000 or more for Protected Veterans), you are required to prepare a written plan that displays your organization’s structure, policies, practices, programs, and statistical reports. The requirements are mandated by Executive Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.
When preparing your plan, make sure you don’t underestimate the time it will take you to properly 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 if you can avoid it.
When collecting information for your plan, do you know which pieces of data you can use to drive results? For example, having accurate and complete applicant dispositioning and tracking movement within your organization is part of the compliance requirement. In an audit situation, not having accurate data in this area will be very problematic. For contractors that have multiple locations, this task can be rather cumbersome to tackle without the use of a software solution.
Key 2: Good Faith Efforts
Once your plan is completed, your next step is to develop action plans for your Good Faith Efforts (GFEs), and include them within your written narrative. A GFE can be any activity that is designed to help you make progress toward the goals in your AAP.
With your GFEs identified, it’s time to start reviewing and communicating the details of executing the outreach efforts you’ve identified; reviewing policies and processes, checking purchase orders/contracts, ensuring EEO taglines are placed appropriately, displaying the required posters, such as “EEO is the Law” and “FMLA” around your office, and distributing your plan to the key stakeholders who will be responsible for contributing toward your goals are all tasks to cross off your to-do list.
Even though you’ll be plenty busy simply getting these things done, you must make sure to not overlook the importance of thoroughly documenting and measuring your efforts. The OFCCP will request this documentation during an audit, and keeping a proactive record now will be key to being in compliance with record keeping requirements, an area that tops the list of contractor violations.
Key 3: Awareness Training
Let’s just cut to the chase –employee training is a requirement. And, whether you conduct in-house or online training sessions, compliance training must be more than just checking a box. When taken seriously, employees will develop a deeper understanding of not only the guidelines of compliance, but also the value of their fellow employees’ unique characteristics and experiences.
If you need help getting started in this area, there are resources available that offer content and services to help you conduct trainings. When preparing for this component of your program, you’ll also need to proactively think about how you’ll record employee progress and completion of your trainings, so make sure to look into that when selecting your resources.
Key 4: Risk Mitigation
Your data, statistical reports, analysis of these reports, policies, procedures, GFEs, and employee training sessions are all part of risk mitigation. Additionally, conducting an Adverse Impact Analysis on selection decisions is key to staying compliant. When adverse impact exists, reviewing the individual components of the selection process is a regulatory requirement.
Throughout the year, you should monitor your progress toward your goals and prepare multiple Adverse Impact Analyses to catch problems early. We recommend that you conduct this review quarterly or semiannually. If you do find an issue, adding a GFE or conducting additional training can help you mitigate risk when faced with an audit.
Aligning With the OFCCP
As a federal contractor, Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) guides many of your HR practices. As part of EO 11246, AAP requirements for females and minorities have both a statistical component (workforce vs. labor pool) and a narrative component (attracting, recruiting, and selection processes).
Through VEVRAA and Section 503, the OFCCP requires an assessment of your company’s efforts toward posting an EEO policy statement, making reasonable accommodations, conducting outreach and recruitment efforts, creating an appropriate personnel processes, preventing harassment, making reasonable requests for physical and mental qualifications, and executing data collection and resulting metrics around these activities.
By fully embracing the true purpose behind the AAP analysis and goal setting, your company can receive several benefits beyond simply being compliant. When successfully planned and executed, a strong AAP will help you increase the diversity of thoughts, skills, backgrounds, education, and much more across your organization.
Want to learn more about the four key components of a successful Affirmative Action Program? Download our exclusive guide!
Is your company prepared for an audit? We can help! Contact us via email or at 1-800-782-1818 to talk to one of our professionals who can help you assess any gaps or increased risk within your Affirmative Action Program.