If you’ve newly entered the world of being a federal contractor, you may be less familiar with some of the requirements related to recruiting. No doubt you’ve already had a handle on the rules of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for a while, but now it’s important to clearly understand the rulings of the Office of Federal Contract and Compliance Programs (OFCCP) as well.
The OFCCP ensures that federal government contractors and subcontractors comply with legal obligations to take affirmative action and prevent discrimination. If you’re a small-to-medium sized business (SMB) that hasn’t had the opportunity to develop a formal plan until now, there are several things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Develop an Affirmative Action Plan – Before you do anything, you need a plan. It’s essential for employers to have a written Affirmative Action Plan (AAP). This will help guide your recruiting team on every hiring decision your company makes. It is a clear statement of what you plan to do as an organization to ensure that you’re helping to advance opportunity for minorities, women, people with disabilities, and covered veterans.
Have a Standard Recruitment Process – You always want to be in the position of proving that recruiting processes are fair and equitable. It is critical that every candidate who moves through your hiring process is handled in the same way. This means that the way you ask applicants and candidates to apply and interview should be identical for the same job. The challenge here is getting leaders and hiring managers on board with these practices. Consider developing and providing standard interview questions, and even conducting training on the rules of the EEOC and the OFCCP, so that everyone understands the risks of non-compliance.
Be Mindful of Job Postings and Descriptions – When posting your jobs on your own website or job boards, be mindful of a few things. First, be sure that your job descriptions are clear, well-written, and standardized. You take too much risk by re-writing them each time you need to post that same position. Have a standardized, measurable job description for each position in your organization that you base your hiring and performance metrics off, which eliminates any opportunity to be discriminatory or non-compliant. Additionally, make it standard practice to include an EEOC tagline on each job posting that states something such as “we are an equal opportunity employer.” Having an applicant tracking system (ATS) that assists with job posting templates can be invaluable when it comes to remaining consistent.
Keep Hiring Practice Records – Even in SMBs, there are likely going to be several people involved in the interviewing and hiring processes. Documenting and keeping records on all hiring practices is essential. While it may be challenging to get those outside of Human Resources on board with record keeping, it’s important to educate them on why. Having records of all interviews that took place, who was present, the notes that were taken, and proof that the process was the same for each candidate is how you prove that your organization is not engaging in any discriminatory practices. Additionally, be sure that you have clear and consistent disposition codes within your ATS when eliminating candidates from the running.
Beyond the Essentials
Dipping in just a little further, there are a few more details you’ll want to familiarize yourself with as it relates to OFCCP compliance. Let’s take a look at them.
Inclusive Job Postings – We’ve already covered standard job postings, but as part of an Affirmative Action Plan, you may want to consider posting your jobs on places beyond the standard job boards and your own site. Look at more inclusive sites such as Diversity Working and VetJobs to show that you’re being more intentional about having a workforce reflective of your local demographics.
Internet Applicant Ruling – The Internet Applicant Ruling requires that a candidate who has engaged with an organization by applying online remains an online applicant until the hiring process is completed, and that it is made possible for the applicant to supply any documentation they’d like such as cover letters, resumes or CVs, transcripts, licensing and so on. Again, this is where an ATS can really jump in and handle this for you, as it makes it simple for applicants to upload documentation.
Provision of Proper Forms – As a government-contracted employer, you’ll be required to supply applicants with proper forms, such as the Individual with Disability Disclosure form (required as of March 24, 2014). This ruling is intended to protect individuals with disabilities, as well as those with veteran status. Make these forms easily accessible for applicants, without having to request them.
Reporting and Audit Preparation – If you are ever in the position of being audited, or asked for information by the OFCCP, you’ll need to be able to provide reports right away. Running an EEO report is generally simple enough to do within your ATS. However, there may be times that the OFCCP requires further analysis of reports that your ATS may not be able to provide. Look for an ATS tool that allows you to easily export reports into spreadsheet platforms. Ideally, your ATS will let you pull up data requested by an auditor with minimal effort on your part.
As a Human Resources professional or a hiring leader, your organization has likely already been well-versed in the requirements of being EEOC compliant. Moving into the world of government contracting and being OFCCP compliant requires adapting a few more practices you may not have had exposure to if you haven’t worked for a government contractor in the past. Following these steps will help put you on the right path to being consistent and modeling fair practices.
For more information on utilizing an ATS that provides things like job posting templates and customizable reporting, contact us at TAM for a live demonstration.