Federal contractors and subcontractors that are subject to the OFCCP’s jurisdiction thresholds know they must prepare an affirmative action plan (AAP) annually. However, the difficult part is understanding what constitutes a compliant AAP that meets every standard and requirement set by regulations and the OFCCP. To ensure you’ve crossed your Ts and dotted your Is, let’s examine what the key components of an affirmative action plan are and how affirmative action plan consultants can help you.
The Planning Process
When beginning the process of creating your affirmative action plan, the first hurdle is collecting accurate data from the previous year. This process alone can be incredibly lengthy, and many businesses find themselves crunched for time as trying to collect and organize their data takes up much of their energy. While your AAP must be prepared annually, your actual affirmative action program is a consistent and continuous year-round effort. Part of this year-round program is driven by the need to generate and analyze accurate workforce data.
Plan ahead by investing in technology that will help you compile and organize your workforce data throughout the year so that it can be easily recalled when you are putting together your annual audit. Investing an effort in digitizing your files and data will provide tremendous relief in the long run. Not only will it be quicker to recall data, but it will require far fewer people to manage effectively.
Furthermore, modern technology will ensure your affirmative action plan maintains a deliberate approach to tracking important data, such as applicant dispositioning and movement within your organization. AAP consultants are also a fantastic resource, as they are capable of reviewing the integrity of your data so that it is cleaned up and organized to ensure compliance and meaningful results. If anything is missing or wrong with your data, our consultants will help you determine and prioritize the necessary steps to get your AAP on track.
Employee Awareness Training
The next key component of an affirmative action plan is ensuring your organization practices what it preaches. While compliance and awareness training for your employees is a requirement, many companies take a barebones, check-box approach that does the bare minimum and leaves the company open to unnecessary liability. Whether your employee awareness training is done online or in person, the program should be in-depth and strive to instill a deeper understanding of the purpose and compliance of the OFCCP’s guidelines.
Part of creating your AAP also involves creating a compliance training program. Make this a valuable opportunity to give your employees new perspectives and experiences to help colleagues understand each other better. A cohesive workforce that is capable of sympathizing with each other will be much more effective for your business than employees who struggle to understand each other and, thus, struggle to work together.
Something to note during the training of your employees is that it is a common misconception that affirmative action affords certain demographics preferential treatment over others. This is not the case in the slightest, and it is important to impress upon your employees that affirmative action provides equity rather simply equality. This is an important distinction because equity is about leveling the playing field—providing historically disenfranchised and underrepresented groups with the same opportunities that demographics with more resources and privileges have access to.
Good Faith Efforts (GFEs)
Once you have completed your affirmative action plan and compliance training program, the next step is to plan and develop actions that will accomplish Good Faith Efforts (GFEs) that work to accomplish the goals within your AAP. These Good Faith Efforts will help develop a positive written narrative and are a tangible example of your company’s efforts toward compliance with the guidelines set by the OFCCP.
Specifically, you can expect to present and review the details of any outreach efforts or affirmative action you have accomplished over the past year. This may include:
- Ensure positions are posted with targeted recruitment sources for groups that are underutilized (i.e., women, minorities, veterans, individuals with disabilities)
- Reviewing compliance processes and policies for your workforce
- Ensuring EEO taglines are placed appropriately
- Displaying required posters promoting EEO and FMLA around the office or workplace
- Hosting seminars that encourage and educate employees on EEO and FMLA purposes and benefits
- Checking purchase orders and contracts
- Distributing copies of your affirmative action plan to any stakeholders responsible for contributing to your diversity goals
Going back to the idea of tracking, recording, and organizing data, it is important that the data within your AAP documents measure your Good Faith Efforts for the OFCCP to review in an audit. In fact, the OFCCP will likely request this information from you, and if you can’t provide documentation of your Good Faith Efforts, you may be in danger of a recordkeeping violation—the most common issue cited during audits.
Speaking of issues like recordkeeping violations, the final step after you have completed your AAP and are working toward Good Faith Efforts is to review every aspect of your business to ensure nothing occurs that could adversely impact your business if the OFCCP audits you. The aim is to reduce your organization’s risk of noncompliance or anything that contradicts your affirmative action program. One of the best ways to identify potential issues is to prepare an impact ratio analysis for hiring, promotion, and termination decisions, while correcting issues identified in these analyses.
Should you find something that does adversely affect your business, regulatory requirements say your team must review each individual component of the problematic process or policy. This is time-consuming and can be prevented by analyzing your organization’s shortcomings year-round. This is another task where consultants may be invaluable for saving you the time and manpower it would otherwise take for your team to pull apart your practices and policies and put them back together.
Putting together a cohesive affirmative action plan and developing the practices needed to make good on that plan can be a meticulous and arduous task for any company. Kairos Services aims to ease the burden of the processes by offering the expertise of our professionals. Kairos will be there to help and advise you on everything you need to know, ensuring your company passes its audit with flying colors.