Affirmative action compliance often gets a bad rap. When people think about HR professionals and compliance in the workplace, they treat it like a punishment rather than an opportunity. This is because, in many contexts, companies frame compliance as a corrective measure rather than a preventive one. People who hear the word “compliance” assume they are in trouble or at risk of having personal failures put on display. In reality, these assumptions could not be more off-base. These misconceptions are just rooted in a lack of understanding.
Many people have the question, “What does a compliance team do?” Compliance teams ensure that workplace environments remain free of harassment and discrimination. They also lead the company through Department of Labor audits, working with employees and employers to implement fair hiring practices. But without context, people outside the compliance department don’t see this.
That said, most compliance professionals don’t have enough time or resources to develop high-quality training on their own. Companies need structured training programs and compliance resources for specific audiences in order to support compliance personnel and create a broader understanding of compliance among employees. In fact, it’s the only way compliance teams can inspire successful affirmative action programs.
The Importance of Understanding Compliance
Affirmative action compliance training programs focus on analysis to foster specific and honest discussions. They allow companies to have impactful conversations and see real progress over time.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we still have a long road ahead of us when it comes to equality. Even though almost 60 years have gone by since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, companies are still working to better achieve equal opportunity in the workplace. Even today, the term “affirmative action” rings alarm bells and gives many people pause.
But what is affirmative action, and what is compliance? Affirmative action guides organizations’ hiring practices to level the playing field for every applicant. It ensures that people are hired on the basis of merit rather than other factors, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. If followed, companies would be naturally diverse instead of being forced to implement harmful practices like hiring quotas.
In reality, most of the negative reactions to affirmative action programs and compliance are misguided and based on bad information. It’s important to correct people’s understanding of compliance, however, so that they can work together to overcome biases and create better work environments. When people begin to understand what affirmative action compliance actually is, they become all the more supportive of it.
How Training Addresses Persistent Misconceptions About Compliance
Compliance professionals who are given the compliance resources to tackle the myths around affirmative action compliance can more successfully lead their companies in achieving equality. At Biddle Consulting Group, we’ve created training programs that address misconceptions about affirmative action directly — no jargon involved. Here’s how we use “straight talk” to clear up misconceptions effectively:
1. Avoiding legalese in understanding compliance
Let’s get one thing clear: Compliance decision makers, often hiring managers or recruiters, are not lawyers. Effective compliance training doesn’t emphasize legalese — e.g., focusing on the legal definition of an “individual with a disability.” Compliance professionals, however, only need to understand what the law requires so that they can spot issues and follow the policies crafted for them by lawyers.
2. Letting go of what you don’t need to know
Straight talk also involves breaking through the noise and getting to the meat of what you actually need to know. No one ever resolved a discrimination investigation by memorizing the ins and outs of specific pieces of legislation. To do their jobs, compliance professionals only need to know what the law requires of them. Everything else is simply extra.
3. Addressing issues directly
Importantly, straight talk involves tackling the elephants in the room head-on instead of using flowery language to step around them. We encourage compliance professionals to speak with one another openly, and we use relatable examples that people can see reflected in their own lives. We point to situations involving discrimination and illustrate how some people are right and some are wrong. The objective is to unite people behind a common goal and inspire them to talk through tough topics and find solutions together.
Because many people still view affirmative action as divisive, equipping affirmative action compliance professionals with the proper tools to change the stigma is more important than ever. By offering extensive training and compliance resources, we empower compliance leaders to address issues directly and tackle misconceptions.
Get in touch today to learn more about how our training programs and resources can support your compliance team.