The final day of the 2021 NILG National Conference ended on a high note with presentations from, and panel discussions with, OFCCP Regional Directors Melissa Speer (SWARM), Aida Collins (SE), Michele Hodge (MidAtlantic) and Diana Sen (NE). The four women represented the six OFCCP regions, speaking on behalf of Jane Suhr (Pacific) and Carmen Navarro (Midwest), who could not be in attendance.
Each Director shared statistics and highlights from their region, and those they were speaking on behalf of, from FY2020 and 2021 to-date.
Not surprisingly, the settlement numbers show an increase in pay discrimination settlements – which is reflective of the Agency’s focus on compensation discrimination.
Each of the Directors separately remarked on the value and benefit of early resolution in audits. Noting there are benefits for both parties, Director Sen shared her belief that
the earlier the resolution the better
because it allows OFCCP to preserve resources and allows companies to tailor the remedy.
In response to a direct question as to the future of early resolution in the new administration, each Director confirmed early resolution is still available and noted it should occur during the beginning phases of the review. The success of early resolution before the issuance of a Pre-Determination Notice (PDN) or Notice of Violation was reiterated throughout the session.
Reading from notes provided by Jane Suhr for the Pacific Region, Director Sen noted the Pacific Region has been successful in early resolution in multi-establishment reviews with corporate-wide conciliation agreements. To this point, in her remarks Aida Collins highlighted the fact that
OFCCP does not operate in silos
and that there is inter-regional sharing of information within the Agency.
The panel also touched a bit on scheduling of new audits. Melissa Speer shared the SWARM region schedules audits regionally out of the Dallas office (as opposed to at the District level) and for contractors with multiple establishments within SWARM, she is trying to schedule them out of the same District office as she believes there is “benefits for both sides” in doing so. Diana Sen noted the Northeast Region will likely begin scheduling off of the most recent CSAL in mid-August (45 days after the list was published) as the region has only a few audits left to be scheduled from the previous list.
In the last moments of the session, the panel shared examples of the “good” things they’ve seen from contractors and recommendations to experience shorter and quicker audits. Examples of “the good” included detailed STEM program collaboration at local schools, C-Suite communications regarding an organization’s commitment to EEO and participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
The collective words of wisdom for shortening the duration of an audit is to “be prepared.” And in the eyes of the Regional Directors “being prepared” can range from reviewing the CSAL list to see if your organization has been selected for upcoming audit, to pulling down the scheduling letter template to start gathering the information need for submission, or even as Michele Hodge suggested for companies to
run [your analyses] as OFCCP will run it so you are not surprised.
The Regional Directors shared a wealth of information and insights with conference attendees and it was a great way to end the conference. We looking forward to doing it all again in 2022! Until then, be well and take care of yourself and each other.