Organizations often view equal employment opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action (AA) compliance as “check the box” exercises that require minimal effort and follow-through. Too many businesses falsely believe that as long as they post their policies in the right places and run the right reports and analyses, they can rest assured that they are “compliant” with all applicable laws and regulations.
While minimum technical compliance is still important, it will only get your organization to the starting line; these measures might allow you to run the race, but they will hardly determine the outcome. Even companies that are completely in technical compliance with their affirmative action plans can still find themselves facing a six- or seven-figure discrimination settlement.
Why is this? When it comes to EEO and affirmative action compliance, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) within the Department of Labor ultimately judges your company on its level of compliance. In other words, the OFCCP wants to know what you do with all those reports after they are run.
Navigating Compliance Challenges
Most often, EEO/AA tasks are delegated to human resources or legal departments. These teams tend to be strapped for time and resources because they’re already juggling several essential projects and responsibilities. In most scenarios, being on the “compliance team” does not mean compliance is your only responsibility. It simply means the rest of your department will not be burdened by it or involved in it.
Making matters worse, HR and legal professionals spend an outsize portion of their time putting out fires. Scheduled compliance projects — such as preparing annual affirmative action plans — are often interrupted by more immediate, pressing concerns.
The consequences of poor compliance are serious, though. In the short term, the primary risk is that the Department of Labor will investigate a complaint or initiate a compliance audit that your organization is unprepared to accommodate. If you’ve only been “checking the boxes” and treating affirmative action like a paperwork exercise, the investigators will take an in-depth, detailed look at your practices — and no one knows what they might find.
Over the long term, repeated compliance problems can debilitate your company’s ability to grow and thrive. Employees who feel continuously mistreated will become disengaged and eventually quit their jobs — and so will some of their colleagues. This creates the risk that word will spread about your toxic work environment, making it difficult to attract and retain the talent you need to compete.
In the internet age, once a company is identified as a bad place to work for women or people of color, that stigma can cause significant damage unless tangible changes are made.
How BCGi Can Help
BCGi is a membership organization that offers information, training, and tools to help companies strengthen their commitments to EEO and affirmative action compliance.
We are working hard to make compliance training more effective and affordable for hiring managers and recruiters — and for compliance professionals themselves. We are focused on helping our members do more with the resources they have, understanding that it can be hard to come by new money for big initiatives.
When a compliance team is given ample time and resources, the possibilities are limitless. These professionals can develop stronger internal messaging campaigns and better monitor the effectiveness of their hiring processes, promotion practices, termination policy enforcement, and other myriad processes that typically don’t receive enough attention. They could also dive more deeply into the assignment of Census job codes and the creation of affirmative action plans while providing more regular and robust training. There is always something a compliance team could be doing.
The stronger your foundation, the higher and better you can build. BCGi offers several levels of membership that accommodate the needs of every organization. We invite you to learn more here and join us today.