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I get asked all the time “what is affirmative action”. You’d think since I am the manager of affirmative action services at CAI that I wouldn’t have difficulty in answering that question. You’d think that, right?
The truth is I do struggle to answer this question. Not because I don’t know what it is but more because I’m not sure what answer the person asking really wants. Are they interested in a quick summary just highlighting a few main points? Or do they want more detailed information including all requirements and analysis. I can provide both. I tend to provide more detail. For those of you who have spoken to me – you’re welcome….or I’m sorry. What I’d like to address here is high-level information.
Purpose of Affirmative Action
Affirmative action is based and builds on the principles of equal opportunity laws. It is intended to provide opportunities for defined protected groups and give them equal access as others in the population. Groups covered by affirmative action are: race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability and veteran status. Affirmation action laws are intended to:
What Affirmative Action is NOT
To me almost equally important as identifying what affirmative action is, is to educate people on what it is not. There is often a misunderstanding of what companies must do as affirmative action employers. Affirmative action is not:
Affirmative Action Programs (AAPs)
If certain headcount/contract amounts are met, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to develop written affirmative action programs. These programs are intended to be a management tool to ensure that equal employment opportunity is occurring in the workforce. These programs should identify the extra steps contractors are implementing to include covered, protected groups. Written programs must be developed on an annual basis and include:
While the AAPs could be viewed as a paperwork exercise, they really can be much more. Use them as the tools they are intended to be to identify and address areas in which there are opportunities for good faith improvement. Improvements to processes are definitely recommended where adverse impact exists in employment transactions or where unexplained disparities exist in compensation as monetary liability exists for companies in those areas in the event of a government audit. Develop realistic and attainable goals for your organization by using your developed AAP as your guide.
If you need help understanding the requirements or how to implement your company’s program, please contact Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager of Affirmative Action Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.713.5241. We also invite you to sign up for our free one hour webinar AAP 101: The Basics on June 16, 2015.