The National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) held its 31st Annual ILG National Conference and Exhibition at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis, Indiana from July 30 to August 2, 2013.

The conference showed an increase in attendance with 730 attendees, 42 exhibitors, and 24 sessions while the 2012 conference hosted 428 attendees, 25 exhibitors, and 29 sessions.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) also attended. Patricia Shiu, Director of OFCCP, addressed the audience in the opening ceremony by summarizing OFCCP’s statistics on enforcement:

  • OFCCP compliance officers have reviewed almost 19,000 federal contractor establishments. Collectively, they [federal contractors] employ more than seven-and-a-half million workers. In the past four-and-a-half years, we have won more than $45 million in financial remedies for 84,000 workers who were affected by discrimination. Since 2009, we have negotiated nearly 9,300 potential job offers for workers who were denied their fair shot at employment because of unlawful discrimination…I can report that, in 99.8 percent of our compliance reviews, we either find the establishment being reviewed to be in compliance with the law or are able to achieve voluntary compliance by working together to resolve violations.

Even so, Shiu continued by highlighting a consistent problem with affirmative action plans (AAPs):

  • …In more than half of OFCCP’s scheduled compliance reviews, companies do not have their AAPs ready on time. When I look at the enforcement data for the past three years, I see that the number of violations under VEVRAA [Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act] have quadrupled and violations of Section 503 [of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973] have quintupled. Most of those violations could very likely be resolved if there had been AAPs in place and if those AAPs were followed.

Shiu closed her speech by forecasting on what is to come:

  • Following a comprehensive and exhaustive process, we will soon publish final rules on both the Vietnam Era Veterans´ Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act…We are also in the process of proposing much-needed updates to outdated regulations that deal with sex discrimination and the employment of women and minorities in the construction industry…I want to make sure all of you know that Pam [Coukos] and her staff are developing an in-depth compliance assistance program specifically focused on issues of compensation…We expect to roll out this new compliance assistance program in the next year.

Shiu’s entire speech can be read here.

Concurrent Sessions

There were less concurrent sessions this year because the start times began at 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. and 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. As a result, attendees could attend two full concurrent sessions each day as opposed to three concurrent sessions as previously organized in 2012. While organizers encouraged attendees to hop around to different concurrent sessions to yield the most relevant information, the majority of the attendees did not.

Even so, the concurrent session speakers covered a range of topics and included professionals from consulting firms, law firms, human resources solutions, employer associations, universities, and government agencies and departments.

The concurrent sessions included hot topics; such as, compensation; legal updates about recent court decisions regarding employment discrimination law; developing linkage agreements; creating meaningful disability programs; veteran hiring; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updates; and recent OFCCP developments. Other topics were commonplace and covered Internet Applicants; uniform guidelines; website accessibility for persons with disabilities; screening applicants; dispositioning candidates; audits; applicant tracking strategies; validating tests; social media risks; hiring processes; and international Affirmative Action (AA) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law.

OFCCP participated in one concurrent session, “A Conversation with OFCCP on Compensation Reviews” that included a discussion with OFCCP’s Pamela Coukos, Senior Program Advisor, regarding Directive 307 with an emphasis on how OFCCP views compensation. OFCCP also participated in, “The OFCCP Panel” where contributors; such as, regional and district directors, answered questions from the audience. Questions included various topics:

  1. How does OFCCP maintain the integrity of an employer’s data when it is being analyzed to mitigate user error?
    1. Answer: A master copy is saved before the analysis begins
  2. What program does OFCCP prefer applicant data to be submitted in?
    1. Answer: Excel
  3. When an employer is submitting the initial data after receiving a scheduling letter, can the employer provide rationales along with the data if the employer noticed “problem areas”?
    1. Answer: Yes, it is encouraged

Keynote Speakers

The conference included keynote speakers with various backgrounds to share their experiences on workplace inclusion.

Marine Corporal Josh Bleill, Indianapolis Colts community spokesperson, shared his experience of losing his legs while serving in Iraq and how he overcame adversity. Bleill’s story emphasized the importance of including veterans into civilian work and how employers can leverage veterans’ skills and discipline to build a strong organization.

Donna Brazile, political commentator, strategist, author, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, discussed the importance of AA. Brazile expressed that the United States is still a place where discrimination is occurring; thus, AA is necessary for the fairness of all.

Ron Clark, Founder of Ron Clark Academy, discussed the value of raising the bar regarding the expectations of students with an emphasis on minority students. Clark stressed the significance of learning about each other’s culture and celebrating it to create a prosperous environment, especially in the workplace.

Jane Elliott, teacher, lecturer, and diversity educator, shared her story of the “Blue Eyes – Brown Eyes Exercise” to illustrate that discrimination is taught; thus, it can be changed. Elliott said prejudice and bigotry is irrational because it is developed from arbitrary factors; such as, height, age, and the shade of one’s skin and eyes. Elliott urged the audience to look beyond those factors in order to build an environment that is accepting of all since we cannot select the features we were born with.

Bill Strickland, President & CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, delivered a message about investing into youth with an emphasis on the underprivileged because the youth is our future. Strickland stressed that life is not about race or class; rather, it is about being a human because we were all born as assets, not liabilities. Strickland’s overall point was the idea of unlocking a person’s potential for what they are capable of, regardless of the color of one’s skin or socioeconomic status, for the betterment of a thriving society.

2014 Annual ILG National Conference

The 2014 Annual ILG National Conference’s premise is “Celebrate 50 Years of Civil Rights – Learn from the Legacy, While Focusing on the Future.” It is scheduled for August 5 to August 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. You can learn more here.

That is it for the 31st Annual ILG National Conference and Exhibition round-up. For questions or comments, please email me at Jacquelyn.Peterson@LocalJobNetwork.com.