Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
We’re thinking about rolling out some IE&D initiatives – is that the same thing as an Affirmative Action Plan?
The short answer is no, and there is often confusion between an Affirmative Action Plan, or AAP, and more general and voluntary IE&D initiatives.
AAPs are required for certain federal contractors and subcontractors above certain dollar limits, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is charged with enforcing these mandates. A central premise of an AAP is absent discrimination, a contractor’s workforce should reflect the gender, racial and ethnic profile of the labor pools from which the contractor recruits. AAPs are therefore numbers driven and focus on the demographics of a workplace. An AAP may also include action-oriented programs to address underutilization of certain demographics in the labor pool, and internal auditing and reporting systems to measure progress towards goals. The OFCCP audits compliance and can impose fines and other remedies for violations.
By contrast, diversity initiatives are voluntary programs that focus on the culture of a workplace by encouraging behaviors that foster inclusion, equity, and diversity, including by improving an employer’s recruitment or retention efforts. Because they are not mandated, employers can adopt initiatives most closely aligned with their organizational goals and authentic to their ethos, without being subject to the strict mandates of an AAP. Examples of such initiatives include diverse applicant slates, diverse interview panels, blinding resumes, training programs, self-assessments, Employee Resource Groups, mentorship programs and many more.
Affirmative Action Plans are complex to create. Most employers do not choose to implement such programs unless they are required to do so.