Business regulations change so often it can create information whiplash. By the time a new regulation has taken hold, another one takes its place. However, the two compliance areas you absolutely must stay in-sync with are EEO and OFCCP

We’re diving into these essential areas of compliance so your organization stays on track. We’re also sharing exactly how to use diversity, inclusion, and compliance as a way to attract top talent, and foster a company with integrity and innovation. 

Employees are legally protected against discrimination by two organizations: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Promoting anti-discrimination in your business not only protects your business from legal consequences, but it also promotes a better and more efficient workplace. This makes it an overall beneficial decision for companies to focus on ways that they can be compliant in all aspects.

For this post, we’re going to talk more about how these protections work, what it means for your business, and some actionable ways you can promote a compliant process at your company.

The EEO and OFCCP protect against discrimination by monitoring company operations for violations. These regulatory groups also help employees know their rights. The regulatory groups also create an infrastructure where employees can submit complaints and review complaints to determine the best course of action.

They prevent unfair treatment by employers of employees based on their race, national origin, sex, and religion. They also protect equal pay between men and women, people with disabilities, people above the age of 40, genetic information, and pregnant women.

Both organizations are very similar. The main difference is that the OFCCP regulates companies within the government realm while the EEO takes care of everything else.

OFCCP and EEO Compliance Basics

First, know if your business needs to be compliant to EEO and OFCCP policies. Not all businesses are legally required to comply with the regulations.

If a company has a federal contract exceeding $10,000, then OFCCP needs to be followed. Alternatively, any non-federally funded business with 15 or more employees are subject to EEO guidelines.

It’s important to note, however, that a company can still be held responsible even if it has fewer than 15 employees.

Also, realize these are general rules, but they can vary depending on the state and type of organization.

If your company is held to EEO and OFCCP standards, there’s a few things you’ll need to have done. Legally, companies are required to post employee rights, keep records of employees and their payroll, and file an EEO-1 report (in most cases).

Beyond the legalities, it’s obviously important to instill an inclusive culture within your company. This means vigilantly discouraging discrimination at all costs.

Businesses should continually conduct trainings on EEO and OFCCP standards. Trainings, while time-intensive, build awareness around the crucial elements of inclusion and diversity. Furthermore, it keeps the topic of internal bias top of mind, so it can be avoided.  

Compliance and Diversity in Action at Work

Compliance Training Should Not Be Optional

Employees in hiring and leadership positions should be specifically trained on how to notice and combat discrimination and bias. Stakeholders shouldn’t make these trainings optional. Compliance and anti-discrimination sentiment should come from the top.

Focus On Family Benefits

Part of the equality equation is providing generous family benefits. Companies should place emphasis on acceptance and accessibility. One way to do this is to offer industry-leading maternity and (the increasingly important) paternity leave.

Protect Against Retaliation

Above all, encourage an open door, no-retaliation policy. It can be easy to miss signs of discrimination, and in the event that it occurs, your employees should feel comfortable coming forward. Over 45% of complaints are filed because of retaliation, it’s crucial to have systems in place that protect your employees if they step forward.

Benefits of a diverse workplace

Promoting diversity and equality is just the right thing to do. At the core of EEO and OFCCP policies is the desire to ensure equality and diversity is protected as companies grow. 

Beyond that, we have some important considerations. Even from the beginning, applicants to your company are keeping an eye on the diversity in your company.

61% of women and 48% of men specifically consider the diversity of leadership – and these numbers only increase when looking at minorities.

But why, exactly, is diversity a good thing for your business?

Founding your company with employees of different ages, races, religions, and perspectives is powerful business fuel.

Better Problem Solving

Teams with varied experiences have advanced problem-solving abilities. Multiple perspectives means employees can see issues from all angles. Companies with diversity are innovative, creative, and boundary-breaking.  

Better-Fit Employees

With different talents, preferences, and experiences, you’’re more able to find the perfect fit for each of the roles in your company while also encouraging team members to learn from one another.

Diverse backgrounds develop deeper innovation and better performance since employees are more likely to feel comfortable and happy in an environment where inclusivity is a priority.

More Accessibility 

Language barriers, which would normally pose several problems for any business – domestic or international – can be almost entirely removed. And, when we say language, we don’t just mean English and French. We’re talking sign language, body language, and even cultural language, all rolled up into one. By having a diverse team experienced in these different areas, you’re connecting with your customers on a deeper level than words ever could.

Compliance And Your Hiring Process

As we’ve mentioned, an important step in creating an inclusive – and therefore EEO and OFCCP compliant – workplace begins with hiring.

So what are some steps you can take to bring more diversity to your company?

Embrace changing trends in the workplace

From stay-at-home-moms to millennials, what people want in a job is changing. For people with disabilities, it’s easier than ever to make accomodations that allow them to do the same job as anyone else. Working from home has never been as easy or seamless as it is now.

By keeping up with these improvements, your company stays ahead of the game, develops a reputation for innovation, and attracts top talent.

Go beyond widening demographics

It’s not enough to just hire a certain percentage of a demographic to meet a quota. It’s important to create an inclusive workplace as well as a diverse workforce.

Right from day one, make your incoming employees feel welcomed and necessary to the company by fostering an inclusive culture.

By appreciating employee’s individual attributes and abilities, as well as their unique experiences, you make them feel like a valued asset to your company. Outlining this to your applicants both in the job posting and in-person will show them that you want to play to their unique strengths and encourage them to join your team.

Use Applicant Tracking Systems  

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) and HR programs have revolutionized the way we hire. They allow us to quickly sift through hundreds of applications to find the perfect match. Take advantage of this by using criteria that highlights diverse applicants and their experiences.

Most of all, be careful not to exclude applicants based on things like age, sex, and background – and directly violate the EEO and OFCCP. While there are overt ways to do this (i.e. asking if the applicant has any plans for children in the next year or two), there are also more subtle qualification and questions that we may not even notice. For example, requiring a high school degree for a position that requires no technical knowledge.

To avoid this, carefully self-evaluate your needs and your current criteria, especially when using an ATS.

Compliance is a Gateway to a Thriving Company Culture

Compliance and regulations can get a bad reputation. However, the regulations are actually a roadmap to a thriving company culture with innovative, loyal employees. Investing in EEO and OFCCP is an investment in diversity, inclusion, and an organization that thrives into the future.

Looking for More?

Looking to build a background check program at your organization that is not only simple but also compliant? Check out our free on-demand webinar with Curt Schwall, VP of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.


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