Equal employment opportunity (EEO) is designed to provide equal access to the employment process for all persons by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, disabilities, marital status, religion and veteran status. Affirmative action takes EEO one step further in that it is designed to “level the playing field” for individuals with histories of past discrimination through various positive and planned employment decisions having a diverse workforce as its ultimate goal. One sage expert in the field explains it like this: EEO is the law; AA is the tool to achieve EEO.
An Affirmative Action Program (AAP) is a written plan of action that first assesses a company’s workforce and the distribution of its employees by organizational units and by job groups. The plan then proceeds to identify areas of minority and female under-utilization based on their availability in recruitment areas. Once under-utilization is identified, goals are established to reach parity. The AAP lays out action to be taken by the company to reach out to minorities and women in order to correct the under-utilization.
Does affirmative action mean hiring a less qualified individual because they are under-represented in our workforce?
No. Applicants should meet competitive selection standards to be included in a candidate pool. Employment affirmative action policies are designed to make the hiring process as objective as possible so that the most qualified candidate is hired. If a company is implementing EEO and affirmative action policies and practices appropriately, it is highly unlikely that a less qualified candidate would be selected for a position. To assume an under-represented candidate such as a minority or female who was the best qualified applicant was hired only because of their sex and/or racial/ethnic background is more likely a prejudicial assumption that they are inferior.
Federal contractors and subcontractors are required to develop and maintain a written affirmative action program for each establishment if they have 50 or more employees and:
- Have a contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more; or
- Have government bills of lading which in any 12-month period total or can reasonably be expected to total $50,000 or more; or
- Serve as a depository of Government funds in any amount; or
- Are a financial institution that is an issuing and paying agent for US Savings bonds and savings notes in any amount.
Contractors should establish a protocol that job seekers must follow when submitting expressions of interest in employment consistent with Federal nondiscriminatory regulatory requirements. Job seekers that submit expressions of interest that comply with the contractor’s stated protocol will be considered applicants and those that don’t follow the protocol will not be considered applicants. Examples of factors that sage employers include in their protocols are:
- The expression of interest must be in writing in the form of the contractor’s employment application
- The expression must identify a specific job for which the contractor has a current opening
- The expression of interest is active for consideration for only a stated limited time
- Job seekers must meet stated minimum job qualifications
- Job seekers that remove themselves from consideration prior to receiving an offer of employment from the contractor are not applicants
- Application must be accurate and complete
- Unsolicited resumes or applications will not be accepted
OFCCP published regulations relating to Internet applicants including record-keeping requirements that went into effect in February of 2006. Those regulations define an Internet applicant as an individual who satisfies the following criteria:
- The individual submits an expression of interest in employment through the Internet or related electronic data technologies;
- The contractor considers the individual for employment in a particular position;
- The individual’s expression of interest indicates the individual possesses the basic qualifications for the position; and
- The individual at no point in the contractor’s selection process prior to receiving an offer of employment from the contractor, removes himself or herself from further consideration or otherwise indicates that he or she is no longer interested in the position.
Yes, under OFCCP’s current definition of an applicant.
The goal is to have a sufficient applicant pool from which to select qualified applicants for each position. Some tips for keeping applicant flow to a manageable size include: not accepting unsolicited resumes and applications; accepting applications only for open positions; accepting applications only when the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for a posted position; using “electronic data management techniques” to manage and limit the number of job seekers for consideration; and considering narrowing the days and times for accepting applications.
Federal regulations require that contractors identify the gender, race, ethnicity, veteran, and disability status of each employee, and where possible, the gender, race, ethnicity, veteran, and disability status from all applicants for employment. The preferred method of obtaining this information is directly from employees and applicants. This information may be obtained by providing employees and applicants with self-identification forms to be completed on a voluntary basis.
OFCCP regulations at 41 CFR 60-2(17)(b)(3) require that contractors evaluate their compensation system(s) to determine whether there are gender-, race-, ethnicity-based disparities. Contractors may use any number of techniques in evaluating their compensation systems. They are not confined to any particular type of evaluation as long as their evaluations can effectively determine whether there are gender-, race-, ethnicity-based disparities. Such compensation evaluations can take the form of statistical or non-statistical analyses including cohort analyses.
EEOC has issued guidance for the preparation of EEO-1 Reports which is consistent with the census.gov demographics. The agency suggests that two basic questions be asked to gather race/ethnicity information as follows:
- Are you Hispanic or Latino?
- What is your Race?
- Black or African American
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- American Indian or Alaska Native
The definitions for Hispanic/Latino and the five races can be requested at our “Free Information” page.