Steps in an Affirmative Action Program

Good faith effort strategy: Employment strategy aimed at changing practices that have contributed in the past to excluding or underutilizing protected groups.

The key aims of affirmative action programs are (1) to use numerical analysis to determine which (if any) target groups the firm is underutilizing relative to the relevant labor market, and (2) to eliminate the barriers to equal employment. When designing an affirmative action program, the good faith effort strategy emphasizes identifying and eliminating the obstacles to hiring and promoting women and minorities and increasing the minority or female applicant flow, The first step is to determine that there is under-representation. Then, reasonable steps to take would include:

1) Issue a written equal employment policy indicating that firm is an equal employment opportunity employer, as well as statement indicating the employer’s commitment to affirmative.
2) Demonstrate top management support for the equal employment policy – for instance, by appointing a high ranking EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) administrator.
3) Publicize internally and externally the equal employment policy and affirmative action commitment.
4) Survey present minority and female employment by department and job classification to determine locations where affirmative action programs are especially desirable.
5) Carefully analyze employer human resources practices to identify and eliminate hidden barriers.
6) Develop and implement specific programs to improve female and minority utilization. Here, review entire human resource management system (including recruitment, selection, promotion, compensation, and disciplining) to identify barriers to equal employment opportunity and to make needed changes.
7) Use focused recruitment to find qualified applicants from the target group(s).
8) Establish an internal audit and reporting system to monitor and evaluate progress in each aspect of the program.
9) Develop support for the affirmative action program, both inside the company (among supervisors for instance by making it part of their performance appraisals) and in the community.

Avoiding employee resistance to affirmative action programs is important. A review of 35 years of research suggests how employers can increase employee support. Current employees need to see that the program is fair. Transparent selection procedures (making it clear what selection tools and standards the company uses) help in this regard. Communication is also crucial. Make clear that the program doesn’t involve preferential selection standards. Provide details on the qualifications of all new hires (both minority and non-minority). Justifications for the program should emphasize redressing past discrimination and the practical value of diversity, not under-representation.

Improving Productivity through HRIS: Measuring Diversity

The human resource manager who wants to assess the performance of his or her company’s EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and diversity efforts has numerous metrics from which to choose. These might include, for example, the number of EEOC claims per year; the cost of HR related litigation; percent of minority / women promotions; and various measures for analyzing the survival and loss rate among new diverse employee groups.

Even for a company with several hundred employees, keeping track of such metrics is expensive. The HR manager may therefore want to rely on various computerized solutions. One package called “Measuring Diversity Results” provides HR managers with several diversity related software options aimed at boosting the accuracy of the information at the manager’s disposal, and reducing the costs of collecting and compiling. Among other things, vendors’ diversity management packages let the manager more easily calculate: the cost per diversity hire; a workforce profile index; the numeric impact of voluntary turnover among diverse employee groups; the effectiveness of the firm’s [employment] supplier diversity initiatives; current diversity measures; and such things as direct and indirect replacement cost per hire.

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