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Related resource: Use this OFCCP audit checklist to ensure you’re doing what is required to maintain OFCCP’s regulations including VEVRAA, Section 503, and EO 11246.

Affirmative action is the primary source of workplace diversity. The government’s commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) put in place by President John F. Kennedy in the early 60s, promising that hiring would be done “without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin.” Since then, several amendments have been made to this original commitment, tailoring it to veterans, those who have disabilities, and more.

With the government’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, as well as laws and acts springing up to ensure that all job seekers are on an equal playing field in their search, hiring a diverse workforce isn’t necessarily something that you should be forced to do; it is essential to ensuring your employee base is the best it can be, leaving behind any bias or preconceptions.

Why is it essential to have a diverse workplace? The obvious answer is that your company is required to meet compliance standards to ensure that no discrimination is present in the workplace, whether it is based on sex, age, race, etc. For federal contractors doing business with the government, in particular, ensuring that you are following these standards is essential for OFCCP compliance.

Make it a point to review OFCCP compliance laws to truly appreciate each individual act that guards against discrimination. This includes following procedures to ensure that state employment agencies are informed of job vacancies, so that these postings reach potential employees. You will also need to stay on top of OFCCP reporting by retaining job posting data that is ready to be reviewed in the event of an audit.

Outside of meeting mandatory guidelines, how do you make affirmative action part of your recruiting strategy? The key is to make a diverse workforce want to join your company by presenting a strong corporate brand committed to diversity. Your company’s website is a perfect vehicle. It will be the first access point that many potential hires reach. Likewise, your social media accounts are touchpoints for potential employees. You need to ensure your brand carries into those channels.

Make it a point to emphasize the need, desire and commitment your company places on diversity. Everything from your mission statement, employee testimonials, and job descriptions, as well as the community programs you support, should reinforce your commitment to affirmative action initiatives.

Your organizational and employee development plan should also factor in diversity hiring initiatives. These plans should serve as tools that will assist you in building out hiring strategies, including the diversity that you are trying to achieve. As part of this plan you should take into account internal and externally facing company-wide materials, training resources and programs that need to be implemented to build and act on your affirmative action plan.

Fostering diversity has proven benefits for organizations. And creating that diversity starts with attracting the right candidates through a planned, strategic approach.

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