Kairos staff have returned from the 2023 National ILG Conference in Phoenix, AZ. This annual conference provides an opportunity for professionals to come together to learn about the latest developments, best practices, and regulatory updates related to workplace compliance. Kairos would like to share with you a few of the important takeaways from this week.

OFCCP Updates from Michelle Hodge

Acting Director & Deputy Director of the OFCCP, Michele Hodge, offered opening remarks on the first day of the conference. Takeaways included:

  • Comments on the recent United States Supreme Court decision addressing affirmative action in higher education admission programs stating, “there is a bright line between that ruling and the work we do. The obligations OFCCP enforces are wholly distinct from the affirmative action that was implemented by some schools in their admissions process.”
  • The Agency is focused on modernizing the organization to receive better data, increased effectiveness in working with larger volumes of data, looking at the use of AI in hiring, promoting the use of technology to assist with providing information.
  • The success of the OFCCP Contractor Portal noting that in the first year there were 8,721 parent companies registered and certified with a total of 79,329 locations. Currently for the second year there are 9,448 parent companies certified with a total of 98,627 locations.

AI use for Federal Contractors

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the hot topic discussion of the week. There were 5 concurrent sessions on the advantages and pitfalls of using AI in the human resources and federal contractor workspace. The most common ways you may find AI being used are automated applicant searches, review or screening of applicant resumes, or pre-selecting applicants for interviews. When properly implemented AI has the potential to be a powerful tool, but it is important federal contractors be involved in the implementation to avoid problems. AI usage in hiring must pass the same validation test as any other hiring tool (i.e., written tests). Acting Director Hodge specifically mentioned that in OFCCP audits they are looking into the use of AI in the hiring process and that federal contractors cannot delegate recordkeeping to third parties.

Anticipation of changes to Race/Ethnicity

Another topic hotly discussed was potential changes to the current Race/Ethnicity classifications. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) working group has three initial proposals: collecting race/ethnicity in one question, adding a Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category separate from White, as well as updating terminology. The comment period ended in April 2023. The last time there was a change to Race/Ethnicity classifications was 1997 and it took EEOC/OFCCP almost 10 years to implement changes.

Will Component 2 surface again?

In 2018 companies were required to file the EEO-1 Component 2 report for 2017 and 2018. The goal was to aid EEOC in finding pay discrimination. In her conference comments EEOC Chair Burrows stated equal pay is a tough question that needs an answer. Currently California and Illinois require Pay Data reports. The Agency continues to discuss and consider potential versions of the Component 2 pay reporting, but nothing is expected in the immediate future.

State and Local Pay Equity

Lively discussions highlighted the complexities of determining “substantially equal” pay in fields across companies in a variety of industries and geographies. One of the most challenging pay equity scenarios occurs when new talent enters at different pay rates (acquisitions and market changes). It was emphasized that eliminating disparities is frequently a gradual process.

Revival of the SWARM Conference

The Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regional (SWARM) Conference is returning to its every two-year schedule after a 9-year absence. Dates are October 16-19, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. For more conference details go to https://ilgswarmconference.com/. To review the agenda go to https://82dd3a.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/SWARM-ILG-Conference-2023-Agenda-June-23.pdf . There will be a special track for the Construction Industry.

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