As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continues to take workplaces by storm we are starting to see a growing trend of adding another letter to the DEI acronym and that is A for accessibility.
Why Add in Accessibility to DEI?
Accessibility is an important part of the workplace and workforce and often one that sees a high unemployment number of those who are willing and wanting to work. In 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with disability were employed which is down from 19.3 percent in 2019. The total number of people with disabilities aged 16-64 in the United States is 33 million and of those only 18.5 million are employed (US Department of Labor). Additionally the National Autism Indicators Report by Drexel University, found that fewer than one in six autistic adults are full-time employees. However, the majority of those who are not working is not by choice since 77% who are unemployed stated that they want to work.
The hard thing with disabilities is 62% of employees who are disabled note that it is invisible and not easily seen or noted by the workplace.
Additionally, the majority of people with disabilities are keeping the status a secret with only 39% disclosing it to their manager and 21% to HR. When disabilities are invisible it is up to the employee to decide when, whether, and with whom to share their disability status. Employees have noted that they still fear when disclosing that they will endure teasing, changes in relationships, be perceived as lazy or less capable and their status affecting their career as reasons to not disclose. This showcases the need for companies to ensure they are including accessibility into their plans to ensure employees feel comfortable coming forward and that they will not be discriminated against.
Below you can watch a quick clip of Craig Leen, Circa Board member, former Direct of OFCCP, and partner at K&L Gates as he discusses the importance of adding accessibility to DEI.
Watch Craig’s full discussion on Strategies for Workplace Allies and Supporting Employees with Invisible Disabilities.
Benefits of Accessibility
Accessibility brings a ton of benefits both direct and indirect to employees in your workplace. This provides the opportunity to not only provide a more open workplace but one where employees feel comfortable to ask for accommodations. Additionally, companies should keep in mind that 56% of employers have said that accommodations needed by their employees cost absolutely nothing and 39% of employers experienced a one-time cost for an accommodation.
Direct benefits of accessibility include retaining valuable employees, increase in productivity, increase in attendance, increase in diversity and savings from compensation & other insurance costs. Indirect benefits that employers saw included improved interactions with co-workers, company morale, company productivity, interactions with customers and overall company attendance. These benefits alone should showcase the need for adding A to your DEI strategy.
Tips for Adding Accessibility into the Workplace
When getting started with adding accessibility to your DEI strategy, a lot of times it can be hard to figure out where to start or how to showcase your company’s support of accessibility. Check out some easy tips of where you can get started to add accessibility into the workplace.
- Adding Accessibility into the Hiring Process. Employers can look into ways to create transparency around accommodation requests on the career site and during the application & onboarding process. This includes adding in a statement about accessibility onto each job posting demonstrating the commitment to accommodation can be helpful to showcase your company. Additionally, making sure you have the availability to adjust your hiring process to accommodate applicants with disabilities to ensure they are bringing their best self forward and showcasing the hard and soft skills that make them a suitable candidate for the position.
- Building Accessibility into the Culture. Offering employee resource groups, mentor programs, and developing an accommodation policy are ways to develop a disability inclusive culture. Employers can also look at offering flexible workdays, a fragrance-free work environment, and other workplace enhancements that could build a more inclusive work culture.
- Don’t Forget to Focus on Digital Accessibility. Make sure that all software and websites that employees need to use do not have a barrier to usability so that all users have equal access to them. This also includes looking at your onboarding process and making sure all training videos and items prepared for the process are accessible and that all videos include subtitles as well.
- Neurodiversity in the Workplace. People with neurocognitive disabilities have talents, perspectives and skills that can be beneficial in many work environments. However, accommodations will need to be made and could include image-based task lists, preparing employees in advance of drastic schedule changes, headphone use to prevent auditory overstimulation, and written or recorded instructions. Work with managers and your talent acquisition team to train on how to work with and the benefits to hiring neurodiverse individuals.
When looking to update or add A to you DEI plan watch our Creating & Implementing a DEI Strategy on-demand webinar or download our free Creating & Implementing a DEI Strategy whitepaper for tips and best practices to help you through the process.
Also, register for our upcoming webinar on October 20, 2021 focused on Understanding Neurodiversity & Building an Inclusive Work Environment.
By September 4-6, 2021 around 7.5 million Americans will lose all unemployment benefits that they have been relying on during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is assumed by some that the additional unemployment benefits are affecting the economy negatively by holding back qualified candidates that are willing to work who are just living off the benefits. However, many do not realize that workers who have already been hit hard by the pandemic will be hit harder by the loss of unemployment benefits. Despite the benefits, job growth is robustly bouncing back with more than 850,000 jobs being added in June 2021. I have outlined some ways that this new cutoff will affect the job market and workers in the coming months.
Workers of Color Disproportionately Affected
Workers of color, especially those in frontline industries, were hit hard by the COVID-19 labor market crisis and are still struggling. The current unemployment rate for Black workers is 9.2 percent, which is twice as high as the white unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. Additionally, Asian workers have a 5.8 percent unemployment rate with Latinx workers at 7.4 percent.
As pointed out by Dr. Bill Spriggs in the New York Times the delay in hiring is not an issue of education or active searching for work but rather the continued reality that Black workers are typically first fired and last hired. The loss of unemployment means that these workers won’t have access to financial assistance to carry them to reemployment which could hurt them even more. Especially, while they look for work focused on what they are experienced in instead of taking a lower pay and benefit job in time of a crisis.
Women & Caregivers Will Lose Support
During the pandemic, Congress took action to ensure that caregivers who lost their jobs due to taking care of children or family would receive assistance. The caregiver challenge led to more than 1.79 million women dropping out of the labor force during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since many women left work by choice, they are not eligible for traditional state unemployment benefits and will not receive benefits after September 6 while continuing looking for work, if they are able to. This provides another underrepresented group that will not have access to financial assistance and may not have the time either to look for work while being a caregiver.
People Still Won’t Work
The $600 unemployment booster isn’t the primary reason that people are not working so taking it away will not necessarily bring about a rush of 7.5 million people looking for work. Recent Yale research found that unemployed people returned to their previous jobs at similar rates. The research found that the scarcity of job opportunities rather than labor supply was a main factor in employment during the pandemic. Additionally, research from the Chicago Federal Reserve found that when individuals stop receiving their unemployment benefits they are less likely to continue to look for work than those who are still receiving benefits. This is because those currently collecting benefits search twice as intensely as those who have exhausted their benefits and are feeling discouraged. While people may not be receiving benefits an influx of job seekers may still not hit the market especially if job opportunities for their field are still scarce.
Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department official and an economist at Evercore ISI Research, has noted that if the $600 unemployment booster is not extended through 2021, it will cost the economy 2 percent in gross domestic product growth and there would be 1.7 million fewer jobs. This rings true when looking at some states who have cut off unemployment earlier than the September date. Six of the states who decided to cut off unemployment early still had unemployment rates in June that were above the national average. States that ended it in June saw the same pace of hiring as those states who continued to keep the benefits going. This showed that ending unemployment early did not necessarily provide better economic conditions.
Quality of Diversity of Job Openings is Limited
As the United States started to open again in Spring of 2021 the jobs added into the market have been restaurants and other service sector businesses with lower wages and limited benefits. The Economic Policy Institutes’ Elise Gould found that the accommodation and food services sector has more job openings than there are workers that were laid off in that sector. On the flipside, higher waged sectors have more unemployed workers than job openings, including real estate, information, education, and arts and entertainment. The goal of the unemployment benefits was to provide people the opportunity to search for a suitable job with comparable wage rather than be forced into a job that may not utilize their skills or provide any career paths. Benefits are still very important since many people are concerned about contracting COVID-19 especially when heading back to the workforce with the new Delta variant and increasing COVID-19 numbers across the United States.
Look Ahead for Employers & Hiring
Employers who are hiring may find the current talent pool looks a bit different especially depending on the type of job. Now is a good time to review current and potential openings and to look closely at the requirements of each, evaluating if they are needed for success in the position.
Something to keep in mind while evaluating candidates is that 84% of HR managers reported that their company is open to hiring an employee whose skills can be developed through training.
This is important to note as 42% of resumes companies receive are from candidates who don’t meet skills requirements. Also, looking at younger workers as well since many did not qualify for the assistance can be helpful while they may not be as qualified the unemployment rate of teens is at its lowest level since the 1950s according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, employers are encouraged to look to ensure they have the right disposition codes in place as well as look to utilize unconscious bias tools in recruitment to ensure candidates are moving through the pipeline based on qualifications.
Looking to see how employment will continue to change in 2022 with the Delta variant and economy? Join us October 21, 2021 for our webinar, What’s Ahead: 2022 Job Market Outlook, that can provide you with complimentary HRCI and SHRM recertification. Register today.
Every day, workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse in demographics, which fosters a professional environment that is diverse, among many other positive qualities. Age discrimination is one that companies should continually keep in mind because it is unethical and expensive. More than $91 million has been recovered for age discrimination at work. Companies should continually look to ensure they have an age-diverse workplace to help facilitate a dynamic and lively environment. An age-diverse workplace allows for experience and wisdom to stand out as well as a youthful energy and eagerness to learn.
5 Benefits of an age-diverse workplace:
- Creates a stable and dynamic workplace: Age-diverse workplaces create a balance in traditional and modern practices and thought processes. From technology-based ways of life, to a more traditionally experienced generation, communication and collaboration are essential to allow your company to have a more dynamic environment where ideas can flow.
- Limits the skill gap: More experienced workers can share knowledge and experiences with younger employees. There is also a return in favor where younger employees can teach newer practices to more experienced employees. By sharing knowledge and talking about certain decisions and procedures, the new guys or juniors could easily acquire new sets of skills.
- Fuels innovation: Innovation in the workplace can help to save you time, money and resources while giving you a competitive advantage. Age-diverse teams push each other to use methods and thought processes not necessarily common to one age group which helps with innovation internally (AARP).
- Increases productivity: The same study by AARP also mentions that within a mixed age team, there is a higher level of team productivity, not just a boost for individual employees. AARP relates this boost in productivity to the shared knowledge that is gained from past experiences, which results in fresh solutions to problems.
- Reduces Employee Turnover: Age diverse workplaces can reduce overall employee turnover rates due to the general loyalty of employees over 55 (Vantage.org).
Age-Diversity Education in the Workplace:
When diversifying the age of your workforce, help your management team get educated on managing a group of employees coming from different generations and backgrounds. The business environment and common business practices are always changing and improving, and when looking to diversify and change, a good amount of research is necessary to make sure that nothing is being overlooked or forgotten. Help educate not only your management team, but also your employees. Not everyone you have on staff or everyone you hire will be used to working with people that are not in their age group or have their similar demographics. Help educate everyone with learning to work with others especially when there is constant groupwork and collaboration.
June is pride month, an important time to recognize and consider the past and present struggles that LGBTQ people have had to endure.
On June 28, 1969 the New York Police Department conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was one of the few locations openly accepting of the gay community in New York. Outrage at the raid resulted in neighborhood residents, staff and customers rioting in the streets outside. Over the next six days protests occurred with demands for a place in New York where LGBTQ people could be open without fear. One year later, on June 28 the first pride march was held in New York.
Since then, there has been progress in improved rights as well as the diminishing of stigmas surrounding LGBTQ people. In 1999 Bill Clinton was the first President to recognize pride month and 10 years later Barack Obama officially declared June as pride month. Additionally, in 2015 the US Supreme Court made same sex marriages legal in all US states and in 2021 Kamala Harris was the first sitting Vice President to walk in the Capital Pride Walk and Rally in Washington, D.C.
Despite recent social progress for LGBTQ people, treatment in the workplace has not been moving at the same rate. There are only four LGBTQ CEOs on the America’s Largest Corporations list from McKinsey & Company. Despite 5.1% of women in the U.S. identifying as LGBTQ only 2.3% of entry level roles are filled by LGBTQ women. For LGBTQ men only 3.1% of entry level roles are filled despite making up 3.9% of the population. As the level of position increases the rate of fulfillment by LGBTQ people drops substantially. Due to the lack of representation, especially at the top, it is easy for LGBTQ people to feel isolated and believe that their sexual orientation will negatively affect their career advancements.
Feeling comfortable and being able to come out in the workplace matters. Last year McKinsey & Company conducted interviews and research on LGBTQ members in the workforce. When asked what it was like feeling as though they were unable to come out in the workplace, one respondent said it “contributes to lower workplace productivity, because it is stressful and debilitating.” Coming out at the workplace is more than just telling your coworkers that you are LGBTQ. One interviewee described it as, “Coming out is going to the frontier of how authentic and transparent I want to be about who I am, in a way that creates as much freedom and ease at work as is comfortable and possible for me.” He also added on “Not everyone wants to go all the way to that level, and that’s fine too.”
Progress in the workplace can be made but it is more than just the gestures made by companies during pride month. Some steps that can be taken are as follows:
- Ensure LGBTQ health programs are equitable and inclusive for LGBTQ patients, families and team members.
- Donate to causes in the area including LGBTQ institutions working on important causes, especially in the local community.
- Update policies to ensure benefits are inclusive of LGBTQ professionals.
- Speak out against homophobia, transphobia and anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination.
We encourage employers to continue to educate themselves and their workplace. We want progress to continue in the workplace to ensure equality and inclusivity for LGBTQ people.
The month of May is Military Appreciation Month and we want to close out the month by acknowledging and appreciating all active-duty, veterans and retired members of the United States Military. The sacrifices that members of the military and their family make on behalf of our country are honored and recognized by the us.
Part of what drives us is our commitment to provide access to jobs for past and present members of the military. We work to continue to provide some great educational content around helping companies hiring and supporting veterans which we have bulleted below.
- Why Recruiting Veterans Can Improve Your Team
- How to Create a Veteran Inclusive Job Posting
- Whitepaper: Introduction to Outreach Targeting Veterans, Individuals with Disabilities, and More
- Webinar: Outreach Targeting Veterans, Individuals with Disabilities, and More
- One Veteran’s Story: A Profile of Courage and Perseverance After Military Service Transition
Finding Veterans to Hire
Our AI Candidate Matching product includes individuals from the Transition Assistance Departments in its database with over 14 million veterans or soon-to-be veterans who turn for assistance in getting jobs.
AI Candidate Matching helps match veterans to job openings by focusing on the core skills and experience. Jobs are first passed through our Artificial Intelligence enabled technology that translates civilian terms to military terms. This helps to connect the same skills and work experience that the military has to a job description that you have provided to ensure you are finding the best candidates for your jobs.
We go even further in helping members of the military to have the best chances of being considered for jobs of interest to them. We anonymize certain aspects of applicants’ information so that you focus on a ranked list of applicants where the name, school and any other factors which produce bias have been redacted. All that is left is a scored ranking based on skill and relevant experience.
All of these efforts combine to give members of the military the best chances of successfully transitioning into the civilian workforce and landing jobs that they love in industries of their choice.
We honor members of the military and their families and looks forward to helping them get matched with the jobs of their dreams!
Pay Equity is becoming more of a hot topic, and companies need to make sure they are prepared for the upcoming surge in pay equity laws. We have rounded up some helpful statistics, maps, resources, and webinars to help employers address pay equity in the workplace.
Important Pay Equity Statistics:
- Women earn just 65% of what men make for the same work, which means the median salary for men is roughly 19% higher than the median salary for women. (World Economic Forum, 2020)
- 33% of companies have a formal budget that is allocated to closing pay gaps. (Circa, 2021)
- Companies noted that the goal of providing equitable pay is driven by being able to recruit and retain the right talent (46%), ensuring a sense of fairness (42%), enhancing performance (41%), and building a culture of trust (40%). (Circa, 2021)
- In FY 2019, 35.9% of OFCCP’s discrimination findings were cases of pay discrimination. (HudsonMann, 2020)
- Companies are using the following tools to measure pay gaps and pay equity including comparisons of pay among comparable jobs (55%), comparisons within pay bands (46%), clear pay for performance measures (41%), comparisons of bonuses and stock options (28%), and regression analysis (22%). (Circa, 2021)
- 60% of companies in the U.S. are working to resolve pay inequities based on race or other demographic factors. (SHRM, 2019)
- American Indian and Alaska Native women, black or African American women, and Hispanic women earn $0.75 for every dollar that a white man earns. This is 25% less than white men. (Payscale, 2020)
- The largest gap is between the earnings of black or African American women and white men. Black women make $0.97 for every dollar a white man with the same qualifications makes. (Payscale, 2020)
- The largest controlled pay gap is for black and African American, with black female executives earning $0.62 for every dollar a white male executive earns, which is down $0.01 from last year. (Payscale, 2020)
- Latino men earn $0.69 for every dollar white men earn. (Pew Research)
- 32% of women began looking for a new job when they learned of a wage gap. (Hired, 2020)
- 60% of women have discovered they’re being paid less than a male peer in the same role. (Hired, 2020)
Interactive Pay Equity Law Maps:
- Equal Pay and Pay Transparency Protections map by the U.S. Department of Labor
- State & International Specific Pay Equity Status maps by DCI Consulting
Pay Equity Webinars On-Demand:
Pay Equity Resources:
- You Conducted a Pay Equity Analysis – Now What?
- Five Ways to Manage Your Pay Equity Compliance
- EEO-1 Component 2 Pay Data Analysis
- The Importance of Pay Equity
- Compensation Analysis: A Practitioner’s Guide to Identifying and Addressing Pay Disparities
- Pay Equity Checklist
- How to Prepare for a Pay Equity Analysis
- A Breakdown of the Compensation Analysis Standards and Voluntary Analysis Guidelines
- Toolkit for Pay Equity Resources
- Companies Are Working to Fix Pay-Equity Issues
- What Employers Don’t Know About Pay Equity Can Hurt Them
- How to Ensure Pay Equity for People of Color
- Last-Minute Tips to Comply with California’s Pay-Data Reporting Rules
When looking to address pay equity, note it is just one piece of the broader problem of unequal representation of women and people of color in the highest paid jobs in management and leadership. Companies should look to prioritize equal pay and secure a formal budget for closing pay gaps, and remember that once started, companies must complete and rectify the issues found within their pay equity report.
Questions about pay equity? Ask a question to our experts.
The overall size of the US Civilian Labor Force in the United States is estimated to be 159.23 million and is comprised of people who have jobs or are seeking unemployment. This number does exclude active-duty military personnel, institutionalized individuals, agricultural workers, gig workers and federal government employees. When looking at the labor force we broke that down further into the diverse workforce in the US.
In January 2021, there were approximately 128.6 million diverse individuals total in the United States labor force and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) loosely defines the labor force to include those ages 16 and older who are either working or actively looking for work. We have broken this down to include the approximate numbers of the current diverse workforce as well as the approximate numbers of those diverse workforce that is unemployed.
- Diverse workforce (excluding White men):
- Approximately 54,489,000 White Women 20 years and over
- Approximately 20,087,000 African Americans
- Approximately 28,831,000 Hispanics
- Approximately 10,231,000 Asians
- Approximately 5,846,000 Individuals with Disabilities
- Approximately 9,115,000 Veterans
- Unemployment numbers for the diverse workforce (excluding White men):
- Approximately 3,269,340 White Women 20 years and over
- Approximately 1,848,004 African Americans
- Approximately 2,479,466 Hispanics
- Approximately 675,246 Asians
- Approximately 736,596 Individuals with Disabilities
- Approximately 446,635 Veterans
Additionally, the figures above can include the 4.1 million individuals who are long-term unemployed which is 41.5% of the total unemployed. The BLS defines anyone who meets the Current Population Survey definition of unemployed and whose unemployment has lasted for 27 continuous weeks or more. The unemployment rate while slowly decreasing for Asians in February little changed for African Americans, women and Hispanics.
While job openings have increased toward the end of 2020 a big employment gap remains for 2021. With the unemployment rates still high for diverse groups companies need to reach diverse groups and ensuring that they are given the same opportunities in the hiring process.
Recruiting Diverse Candidates
When looking at recruitment efforts make sure that every candidate is given a fair chance through the process which includes looking to reduce unconscious bias, reaching out to diverse community-based organizations, and ensuring the recruitment process is reviewed regularly. A great place for companies to start is through unconscious bias training, tools to reduce recruitment bias, like AI Candidate Matching, finding more diverse organizations to work with and focusing on defining benchmarks and establishing metrics to increase goals.
Circa’s new AI Candidate Matching can help companies to reduce bias in recruitment while reaching out to diverse candidates. AI Candidate Matching takes the civilian labor force above and includes additional groups that are not counted or have a hard time being accurately counted in that labor force from more than 3,500 diversity groups including the below groups.
- Approximately 2.1 million discouraged workers (BLS)
- Approximately 5.9 million gig workers (BLS)
- Approximately 8-10 million unemployed
- Approximately 24 million military individuals and their spouses
Additionally, AI Candidate can remove biases from job descriptions and blindly screen candidates to remove ethnicity, gender, name, education, age or other factors to ensure that you are focused on matching the candidate’s skills to your job requirements.
Recruiting diverse candidates can feel like a daunting task so be sure to check out our latest resources to help you with a place to start Recruiting Essentials for a Diverse Pipeline webinar, Recognizing and Overcoming Unconscious Bias in Ourselves and the Workplace webinar, and How to Source Diverse Candidates whitepaper.
Related article: Recruitment Tips for Building a More Diverse Workplace
When you think of effective workplace diversity, you probably think of people of different genders, races, and cultures putting their diverse backgrounds to good use. You may also think about legal requirements and ensuring compliance. These thoughts are correct, but there’s another way to “think” about diversity.
There’s a growing trend when it comes to diversity at work, and it’s called “thought diversity.” Employees all have unique backgrounds, and those backgrounds impact the way they think. Having a work environment with a diverse collection of thinkers will help your company push the envelope and grow in ways it normally wouldn’t. According to a study by consulting and professional services company Deloitte, cultivating “diversity of thought” at your business can boost innovation and creative problem-solving.
There are many different types of thinkers. Some people are creative, some are analytical, some are relaxed, and some are strategists. By putting together a group of people who “think” differently, Deloitte believes companies can stimulate creativity, spur insight, and increase efficiency.
Deloitte’s study suggests thought diversity can benefit an organization by reducing groupthink, increasing the scale of new insights, and identifying the right employees who can best tackle their most pressing problems. According to Deloitte, “The implication of this new frontier in diversity is that leaders and organizations must let go of the idea that there is one right way and instead focus on creating a learning culture where people feel accepted, are comfortable contributing ideas, and actively seek to learn from each other.”
To implement thought diversity in your workforce, there are three steps Deloitte recommends managers follow:
1. Hire Differently
If the candidate is unconventional, hire them. Sometimes bending your hiring parameters, and allowing for more flexibility, will bring in a candidate you didn’t think would fit. For example, say you interviewed three candidates; Gary, Jen, and Mark. They were all asked the same eight questions; Mark got six right, Jen five, and Gary four. Most people would lean towards hiring Mark or Jen. But what if when you look at the answers, you see Gary actually answered all the questions correctly that Mark and Jen missed? University of Michigan economist Scott Page uses a similar scenario in his book, “The Difference,” to show how hiring managers could change their practices to hire with thought diversity in mind. Page found most organizations would hire the candidates with the highest scores, but the smarter move may be the one who was able to answer the questions no one else could. According to Page, this suggests the candidate brings a different way of thinking to the table.
2. Manage Differently
Manage like you’ve never managed before. At most organizations, when a group meets to come to a decision it is usually approached by trying to come to a consensus. However, Deloitte suggests it’s the approach of going into the meeting looking for a consensus to be the end goal that ends up stifling thought diversity. Instead, a conflict which is task-focused should be encouraged. According to Deloitte, this can push team members to new levels of creativity and productivity. In the end, you want your entire team to feel accepted and encouraged to share their opinions.
3. Promote Differently
Encourage and reward employees in a whole new way. According to Deloitte, to retain and advance cognitively diverse talent, organizations should:
…enact sponsorship programs directed at individuals who represent different thinking styles. Moving to a team-based performance evaluation framework can allow an organization to create and foster a culture of inclusion that empowers its people, spurs collaboration, and inspires more innovation.”
Having employees who think in diverse ways makes sense, much like having employees with diverse backgrounds. More organizations are recognizing the benefits of thought diversity, and making it a priority in their hiring management processes.
To learn more, read Deloitte’s entire study here.
What is a Federal Contractor?
Individuals or employers who enter into a contract with the United States (any department or agency) to perform a specific job, supply labor and materials, or for the sale of products and services, hold government bills of lading, serves as a depository of federal funds, or is an issuing or paying agents for U.S. savings bonds and notes, enters into a direct construction contract or a federally assisted construction contract. If a contractor is providing construction services on a contract in which a federal agency is not one of the contracting parties but the source of funds, then the contract is a federally assisted contract.
What is a Subcontractor?
A company that does business with another company that holds direct contracts with the Federal Government.
Aren’t sure if you are a federal contractor or subcontractor? Take our 30-second quiz to check.
So why is it important to know if you are a Federal Contractor or Subcontractor?
If you are a Federal Contractor or Subcontractor you assume obligations under the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). This includes being prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, national, origin, religion, disability, or status as a protected veteran. You must also take Affirmative Action to recruit and advance in employment individuals from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented and historically disadvantaged. You may additionally be subject to more obligations that are outlined below.
Please note, if you are a federal construction contractor there are some variations with the requirements under the regulations. Please check out our blogs focused on Compliance with OFCCP’s IWDs and Protected Veterans Requirements and OFCCP’s Construction Contractors Technical Assistance Guide.
Executive Order 11246
Executive Order 11246 applies to supply and service contractors and subcontractors, as well as construction contractors and subcontractors (although the obligations for construction entities are slightly different than supply and service).
Companies with federal contracts or subcontracts totaling more than $10,000 are subject to Executive Order 11246. Covered contractors with 50 or more employees and at least one government contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more must develop, maintain, and annually update a written affirmative action program (AAP) for minorities and females. More information can be found in OFCCP’s regulations at Title 41, Chapter 60, Parts 1 and 2.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503) addresses obligations with respect to individuals with disabilities. Section 503 applies to companies with federal contracts or subcontracts in excess of $15,000. Covered contractors with 50 or more employees and at least one government contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more must develop, maintain, and annually update a written AAP for individuals with disabilities. More information about Section 503 can be found in OFCCP’s regulations at Title 41, Chapter 60, Part 741.
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) addresses obligations with respect to veterans. VEVRAA applies to companies with a federal contract or subcontract of $150,000 or more. Covered contractors with 50 or more employees and at least one government contract or subcontract of $150,000 or more must develop, maintain, and annually update a written AAP for covered veterans. More information about VEVRAA can be found in OFCCP’s regulations at Title 41, Chapter 60, Part 300.
What happens next?
After a company determines it is a federal contractor and covered by Executive Order 11246, Section 503, and/or VEVRAA, the next step will be to get a handle on the specific obligations that exist and whether current processes need to be revised to meet those requirements. The OFCCP may conduct any one of or combination of the following investigative procedures from a compliance review, offsite review of records, compliance check and/or focused review. Compliance reviews can end in a number of ways, from a letter of no apparent violation, a conciliation agreement, or a consent decree. No matter how it turns out, the OFCCP has a policy to not revisit establishments within 24 months after the completion of a compliance evaluation.
Be aware that once a Scheduling Letter is issued, the contractor will be required to show compliance with all applicable regulations for 12-24 months back from the date of the letter. Federal contractors should be prepared for such requests and keep compliance information and documents up-to-date and readily available if and when a compliance review is initiated.
Keep in mind that being subject to a compliance evaluation is just one of the costs of doing business with the federal government. When you receive the scheduling letter, be sure to inform your highest-level executive. Also inform the mail room that any incoming correspondence from the Department of Labor should be directed to a single identified point of contact. The deadlines listed in the scheduling letter are tight and fairly inflexible.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Consult with in-house counsel and determine whether hiring outside counsel would be advisable. Your local counsel should also be able to help you identify the personnel who needs to be advised of the audit.
If you need any outside assistance, Circa is here to help. Our proven solutions help you satisfy federal hiring requirements and guarantee OFCCP audit success. You can also check out our multitude of complimentary OFCCP resources including our What is OFCCP Compliance Whitepaper, Ask the Experts Forum, OFCCP Documentation Best Practices White Paper, and Live Webinars.