HR Works recently had the pleasure of attending the 2022 National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) National Conference, an annual conference where EEO, affirmative action, HR compliance and diversity and inclusion representatives from across the country come to learn from experts and federal agency leadership including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
The theme: This year’s conference encouraged employers to be ‘beacons of change’ for their organization while addressing the complexities of complying with equal employment obligations. Below, we asked members of HR Works’ AA/EEO Services Division to share their key takeaways from the sessions, presentations, and conversations occurring throughout the conference.
Shannon Craig | VP of Compliance
The hot topic of this year’s conference was pay equity. OFCCP is on it, EEOC is on it, California is on it, Illinois is on it, Colorado is on it, and they aren’t alone. Any affirmative action employer and any employer with 100 or more employees needs to be evaluating its compensation practices and procedures for equity at least annually and documenting that it did so. A pay equity audit should be conducted using statistical techniques when sample sizes allow. Pay disparities should be researched and then corrected in any instances where the explanation for those differences is not based on job-related factors like time in job, education, or experience. Clear procedures should be in place for setting starting pay and determining raises, and managers should be trained to administer those procedures consistently.
It’s not just pay disparities that matter now, though. Some of these agencies are looking at “opportunity segregation,” evaluating whether the employer is placing certain gender or racial/ethnic groups in lower-paying positions disproportionately. Make sure your pay equity analysis looks not only for disparities within groups (titles, grades, pay analysis groups), but also for unwelcome trends across groups, like diverse employees clustering at lower levels of the organization.
Greg Martino | Senior Affirmative Action Project Manager
Echoing Shannon’s statement, pay equity and opportunity segregation emerged as topics of interest multiple times throughout the course of the conference. While OFCCP is still in the process of evaluating what exactly they expect from contractors from a pay equity analysis when it comes to statistical tests and documentation, contractors should be carefully reviewing their compensation systems for equity and consistency. Along the lines of opportunity segregation, it’s critical for employers to keep a watchful eye towards what is contributing to pay disparities in their workforce – especially differences driven by having many employees of similar race and/or gender clustered within a similar job level – and not just whether there are any pay disparities in place.
Another key takeaway for employers to be aware of was updates on OFCCP’s current audit procedures, and possible changes to watch for in the coming year. OFCCP’s latest Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL) in May announced 400 establishments to be audited and was generated from a new algorithm that sought to determine contractors who were likely out of compliance by utilizing EEO-1 reports, job pattern distributions, and identifying companies who have been hiring and growing during the pandemic. Contractors should expect the next CSAL to be larger, given that OFCCP is hiring themselves – OFCCP Director Jenny Yang announced that the Agency was seeking to hire 100 new Compliance Officers by the end of September – coupled with soon being able to identify which contractors have not certified in the new OFCCP portal, and possibly focusing future audits on them. Any contractors meeting the requirement to certify their AAP compliance in OFCCP’s Contractor Portal should certify as soon as possible, if they haven’t already done so.
Alex Ubbink | Senior Affirmative Action Project Manager, Chair CWNYILG
Another hot topic among the contractor community is Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the selection process. AI has been used in multiple stages of the selection process and in varying types, including résumé or application scanners, chatbots, virtual job interviews, gamified assessments, and social media analytics. The benefits of using AI in selection procedures are apparent to most: it is convenient and efficient when facing hundreds of applications, and there are lower costs associated with AI than with traditional recruiter screening. The potential negatives associated with using AI aren’t as well known, but it is crucial that employers are aware of them before deciding to incorporate AI in selection procedures. For example, the documentation needed to defend hiring or promotion decisions may not exist as it traditionally would have, there may be a lack of transparency in the selection process (i.e. can the employer point to what exactly the AI determined to be the factor to knock someone out if asked?), and there may be a lack of job relevance between the AI screening test and the position. Additionally, while one may believe bias is lessened when using AI over traditional recruiter screening, this has not been confirmed. Games and social media screening may have an unintentional negative impact on older candidates or applicants with disabilities, for example.
When an employer decides to move forward with using AI in the selection process, it is important to keep in mind that AI is bound by employment laws, just as all selection tools are. When questioned on selection decisions, the employer should be prepared to speak to how the AI works and the algorithm it uses. In the case of a review by a federal agency, expect that the investigator will have many questions regarding this tool. Artificial intelligence is here to stay, so when the decision to implement AI comes to your business – proceed with caution, but still proceed.
The National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) is a non-profit organization formed in 1992 for the main purposes of improving communications between the OFCCP and Industry Liaison Groups; and, enhancing the quality and overall effectiveness of Industry Liaison Groups. Industry Liaison Groups operate regionally across the U.S. and provide an unmatched opportunity for employers and representatives from OFCCP and EEOC to interact and learn together. A directory of Regional ILGs is available at https://www.nationalilg.org/regional-ilgs/.
Save The Date! Next Year’s NILG conference will be held in Phoenix, Arizona from August 1 through August 4.
Your Trusted Advisor
HR Works was honored to be an exhibitor at this year’s conference. We enjoyed reconnecting with many of our partners and clients, and sharing our Affirmative Action, Compensation & Pay Equity, and Workforce Diversity Solutions with new acquaintances.
For over 30 years, HR Works has served as a trusted Affirmative Action Advisor to Clients across the US. As your Affirmative Action Partner, HR Works can help you:
- Develop a fully compliant AA program
- Identify obstacles to EEO
- Diversify your sourcing channels and labor pools
- Educate your managers and hiring professionals
- Ensure fair pay and promotion practices
Our record of 100% success in OFCCP audits speaks for itself. Let our depth of Compliance and HR expertise help you navigate the regulatory landscape and thrive through leading initiatives that are right for your business. For more information, contact us today.