Written by Beth Bulger, Director of HR Services

    Affirmative Action ‚Äď What Does it Mean to You?

    Per Wikipedia, Affirmative Action ‚Äú‚Ķrefers to policies that take factors including ‚Äėrace, color, religion, sex or national origin‚Äô into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group at the expense of a majority group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.‚Ä̬† The term‚Äôs origin dates back to President John F. Kennedy.¬† For those of us in the HR world, we are intimately familiar with the¬†workplace policies and plans that encompass Affirmative Action.

    If you have 50 or more employees and a contract or subcontract worth $50,000 or more, by law you must develop and maintain a written Affirmative Action Plan (AAP).

    In the private sector things are a bit different, but¬†affirmative action should always be taken into consideration.¬† A great observation comes from Heather Aycoth-Zboch, a small business owner and blogger, who writes in¬†Hubspaces¬†‚ÄúUnderstandably, smaller companies may have a difficult time proving that they have not participated in discrimination practices because percentages can be skewed by the small sample size.¬† Because of this, many federal laws regarding discrimination in hiring do not cover small businesses. Still, state legislation often has a set of rules that encompasses businesses of every size.‚ÄĚ

    • Does your company have an affirmative action plan (AAP)?
    • Do you have any affirmative action policies in place?

    The Basics of an AAP

    An affirmative action plan establishes guidelines for recruiting, hiring and promoting women and minorities in order to avoid employment discrimination.  The intention is to provide opportunities to groups that have been traditionally discriminated against.  An employer analyzes its current employment practices and the makeup of its workforce for any indications that women and minorities are excluded or disadvantaged.  If the employer identifies some problems, it then devises new or different policies and practices aimed at solving the problems. Lastly, the employer develops goals by which it can measure its progress in correcting the problems.

    AAP – Did you Know?

    ‚ÄúFosterThomas assists companies by developing fully compliant affirmative action plans.¬† We exist to help our companies remain in compliance.¬† Our plans have successfully helped numerous companies pass audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).‚ÄĚ

    A federal contractor has 30 days from the commencement of their first contract to develop their affirmative action plan. The OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) is the regulatory authority and periodically conducts compliance reviews and desk audits of an organization’s affirmative action plan.  These reviews include an in-depth analysis of employee practices such as employment, transfer, promotion, hiring and termination.  Upon completion of the review, the OFCCP determines whether the organization is compliant with federal regulations.  We can also develop and file the required EEO-1 and Veteran 100 reports and can provide consultation and onsite support in the event of an OFCCP audit.

    AAP – Do you Need Assistance?

    It is important to remember that affirmative action is not a quota but rather a continuing good faith effort by an organization to ensure that there is equal employment opportunity in all of its personnel decisions.

    If you need assistance establishing an AAP at your workplace, call on the HR Compliance experts at FosterThomas to guide you through the necessary steps.