Day One of the NILG 2023 National Conference is in full swing. Not deterred by the outdoor temperatures, conference attendees, presenters, vendors and Agency representatives enjoyed a first day’s agenda overflowing with informative sessions where “ideas are nurtured and knowledge is exchanged” as part of this year’s conference theme of “Transforming for Tomorrow.”

The Opening Ceremony started with a traditional dance from representatives of the Yellow Bird Apache Indians.

Acting OFCCP Director Michelle Hodge was the morning’s keynote speaker. Director Hodge opened her remarks by addressing the recent United States Supreme Court Decision addressing affirmative action in higher education admission programs, stating there is a

“bright line between that ruling and the work we do”.

She stated the work is “wholly distinct” and there continue to be lawful and appropriate ways to foster inclusive workplaces”. She shared her belief that “diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths.”

 Director Hodge then went on to describe what contractors can expect from OFCCP. “Strengthening enforcement efficacy and efficiency” topped the list followed by modernization and tightening unnecessary extensions as well as strengthening data analytics, and agency hiring and training.

As far as Agency priorities, Director Hodge listed three specifically:

  1. Strengthen enforcement to protect underserved marginalized workers
  2. Dismantle hiring barriers
  3. Expand outreach and education outreach efforts  

Spending a good deal of her remarks on the first item, Director Hodge shared statistics about OFCCP contractor portal compliance, discussed the agency’s focus and perspective on contractors’ compliance obligations with respect to use of artificial intelligence in the hiring process and the state of OFCCP’s rulemaking efforts. Director Hodge shared that the final PDN rule should be released in the coming days. She noted the rule will “restore” the Agency’s flexibility in audits but also “continue to promote transparency and consistency by requiring continued use of the PDN.”

In closing, highlighting the conference theme by noting “the time is now to transform for tomorrow,” Director Hodge invited conference attendees to “reflect on your workplace programs“ and to ask the question “does the intent of your policies in practice remove barriers or create them?” 

The remainder of the day was filled with thought-provoking sessions on a wide variety of topics, including OFCCP’s approach to pay in audits, artificial intelligence, disability accommodations, ESG, OFCCP enforcement statistics and audit trends, military recruitment best practices and a whole host of other informative discussions.

We are looking forward to Day Two which will kick off with an address from EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows.

Have a great evening and we’ll see you tomorrow!