Happy New Year! It’s time for that annual ritual of making New Year’s resolutions – both personal and professional. I won’t presume to suggest what your personal resolutions should be, but I offer the following New Year’s resolutions for a successful year in your profession.
- I will complete my Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) before the end of February. Let’s face it, the end of January is almost upon us, so the end of February is more realistic. But remember that it’s a short month, so get the data pulled in the next two weeks and get your number crunchers going. The AAP should provide a roadmap for fulfilling your recruitment needs for the year, so put some thought into what areas of underutilization need to be addressed and the most effective ways to achieve your stated goals.
- I will review, revise, and disseminate the sexual harassment policy. With the attention on this subject in the news, your staff is ready to hear what is expected of them. Consider implementing a training program for all staff, with additional training for managers.
- I will ensure that our non-discrimination policy conforms not only to OFCCP regulations, but also to state and local ordinances. OFCCP guidelines are just a starting point for federal contractors. Employers in certain states are held to a higher standard, and local ordinances may provide further protections. Find out what additional protections apply to your location(s) and ensure that your policy reflects all applicable protections.
- I will review our compensation system and identify any irregularities. As a federal contractor, we are required to review compensation annually. Such a review is considered a best practice, particularly in light of the pay transparency rule. It is best to be out in front of pay discrepancies, before they are uncovered in an OFCCP audit or a discrimination lawsuit.
- I will make sure our applicant tracking system is working properly. Are disposition codes helpful? Are you able to align the correct set of applicants with your hires? Are you correctly applying the Internet Applicant Rule? Are applicants asked to self-identify for gender, race, veteran status and disability? If the data was a mess last year, get the system updated NOW, so that this year’s data will be meaningful when you put together next year’s AAP.
- I will review our position descriptions and application questions to ensure qualified applicants are not inadvertently screened out. Many stated qualifications in job descriptions are not related to the essential functions of the position. Regular reviews are both a best practice and a regulatory requirement. Note that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines regarding when and how to ask criminal background questions, so as to prevent unnecessary disqualification early in the application process.
- I will find a way to increase the self-reporting of disability status of employees. And If you are successful, please share it with the rest of the contracting community. This is a tough one. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) provides several Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that can be of assistance. You may want to consider forming an employee task force to brainstorm some innovative ideas.
- I will conduct a climate survey. This is a great way to find out what your organization is doing well and what you could be doing better. Honest feedback, appropriately addressed, can prevent small issues from becoming large liabilities.
- I will take advantage of opportunities for enhancing my own education. There are any number of webinars available, many of which are free of charge. For a more comprehensive approach to learning the basics of HR compliance, you may want to consider classroom training. Some courses provide certification.
- I will join associations with other federal contractor colleagues. There are several national organizations that offer local monthly or quarterly meetings. Some are free of charge, and others have nominal fees. National conferences offer both training and networking opportunities.
Please note: Nothing in this article is intended as legal advice or as a substitute for any professional advice about your organization's particular circumstances. All original materials copyright © Schuyler Affirmative Action Practice 2018.