The 33rd Industry Liaison Group National Conference 2015, in New York, July 29-July 31, celebrated “Onward and Upward: Building the Future of Compliance.” For the first time, representatives from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collaborated on panels to discuss pay equity, gender identity, background checks and other major issues that impact equal employment opportunity.
Industry experts educated attendees on several topics of current importance:
Disability and Veteran Outreach
Conference participants attended a multitude of sessions that provided insight and guidance on the latest EEO and Affirmative Action trends. Marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 11246, OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu acknowledged in her keynote address that opened the conference that
“What history taught us we are wise to remember.”
Director Shiu also remarked on the accomplishment this year of the “full inclusion of LGBT into our workplace communities”. 2015 also celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Common mistakes in compensation practice and data analytics can be major hurdles to attaining pay equity. Experts identified compensation practice mistakes – starting salary is arguably the biggest factor – and provide solutions.
Under the revised Section 503 regulations, federal contractors face greater scrutiny of the impact of their employment practices on Individuals with Disabilities than ever before. Common disability management scenarios based on recent EEOC and OFCCP enforcement activity were discussed, including unlawful medical inquiries, reasonable accommodation, job descriptions, basic qualifications, physical and mental job requirements, and qualification standards. Attendees learned practical solutions for managing these issues as well as effective outreach strategies to attract veterans and candidates with disabilities to their organizations.
OFCCP’s new Scheduling Letter and a 30-day deadline, was another important topic. Contractors face numerous challenges getting ready for an audit. Preparation for an OFCCP compliance review and successful audit tips were discussed.
Also looming on the horizon is the Equal Pay Report, which will require reporting of compensation data by EEO category. Contractors must develop compliance strategies for the submission of compensation data. A panel discussed the implications of these data submission requirements.
The OFCCP began investigating “job steering” practices relatively recently as means of closing the gender pay gap. Steering is the policy or practice of guiding applicants or employees towards or away from certain jobs based on race, gender and other protected characteristics. It potentially affects hiring, promotion opportunities, compensation and termination. An interactive discussion revealed the types of unconscious bias that can lead to costly discrimination cases.
During the past few years, the OFCCP has been scrutinizing pay discrimination. Employers must examine and be ready to defend not only disparities in base pay but also bonuses, commissions, overtime pay, merit increases, incentive comp and other components that make up “total comp.” An informative session highlighted the steps for building total comp submissions to OFCCP and how to analyze each pay component to uncover possible hidden discrimination in employer pay system.
The last day of the conference featured a panel of prominent industry experts who provided their views on key takeaways from the conference. This session touched on the topics highlighted above and was followed by a list of the ‘Top 10 Things Overheard at the Conference’. From the panel discussion it was clear that the relationship between the regulator (OFCCP) and the regulated (federal contractors) is more adversarial than ever before. Federal contractors have a lot on their plate. The NILG was a great forum for them to learn more about navigating compliance obligations and network with colleagues.