EEOC and DOL Unveil HIRE Initiative to Advance Equal Opportunity at Work

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Experts Discuss How Federal Agencies Can Help Remove Barriers and Open Doors in Recruitment and Hiring for Underrepresented Workers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) today hosted a roundtable discussion to launch the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity (HIRE).

HIRE is a multi-year collaborative effort chaired by EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows and OFCCP Director Jenny R. Yang that will engage a broad array of stakeholders in expanding access to good jobs for workers from underrepresented communities and help address key hiring and recruitment challenges. HIRE will identify strategies to remove hiring barriers that limit opportunity along the lines of race, color, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ status, religion, disability, age and veteran status.

“The HIRE initiative aims to expand employment opportunities as our nation recovers from the pandemic,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Working with employers and workers to prevent unfair and unnecessary obstacles to equal employment opportunity is a key component of this initiative. This collaboration between EEOC and OFCCP will help create an economy that works for everyone.”

OFCCP Director Jenny R. Yang said, “The nation’s economy continues to add jobs, but we know that many people are still struggling to find quality employment while many employers are reassessing their recruitment and hiring practices to find the talent they need. Together with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we will engage with innovative employer and worker efforts to identify actionable strategies to remove barriers to hiring to unlock our nation’s full talent.”

The roundtable, “Building on Dr. King’s Legacy: Launch of HIRE, a Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity,” brought together employer, worker and civil rights organizations to explore how to promote recruitment and hiring practices that advance racial equity for underserved communities.

EEOC Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels said, “What better time -- as we mark Dr. King’s historic legacy -- to introduce the HIRE initiative, which furthers the EEOC’s vital mission to safeguard and advance equal employment opportunity for all Americans, including workers from underrepresented communities. I am thrilled to be working with Chair Burrows, Director Yang and all of our EEOC and OFCCP colleagues to realize Dr. King’s vision and fulfill the goals of our nation’s civil rights laws.”

Veta T. Richardson, Association of Corporate Counsel president and chief executive officer, said, “I applaud the EEOC and the OFCCP for initiating a concerted effort to help overcome the historical and systemic barriers to employment plaguing underserved communities, which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated even further. A key partner in this effort will be in-house counsel, who play a central role in developing, implementing, and updating their organizations’ employment policies and practices. Association of Corporate Counsel is enthused to support HIRE by raising awareness of this important initiative with our members to help advance equal participation and opportunity for every­one.”

Dr. Kathleen K. Lundquist, president and chief executive officer of APTMetrics, said, “We are excited to help organizations begin to think more broadly about how to re-define profiles for success in their jobs and evaluate candidates using the types of techniques that create an even playing field for diverse candidates. The HIRE initiative will be a critical resource and shine a bright light on hiring practices that eliminate barriers to equal opportunities for everyone. It will take the fight against bias in hiring to the next level — the level that can lead to a more inclusive, post-pandemic economy.”

Lola Smallwood Cuevas, project director and founder of the UCLA Labor Center’s Los Angeles Black Worker Center, said, “For far too long, Black workers in our communities have been sorely underrepresented in good family-sustaining jobs. In the era of COVID-19, federal contractors and employers overall must make the shift to value an inclusive, equitable and representative workforce as much as they value finishing a project on time and on budget. That is how we build an equitable recovery.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond said, “What a lot of folks don’t know is that the AFL-CIO insisted on the fair employment practices section of the Civil Rights Act. The early drafts omitted it. And at several turns, lawmakers tried to cut it. But the AFL-CIO wouldn’t let them. And its passage established a clear basis for invoking the power of the federal government in eliminating job discrimination, because labor rights are civil rights.”

Cid Wilson, president and chief executive officer at HACR, said, “I applaud this initiative to rethink hiring practices to promote true diversity in the workforce. At the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), we advance Hispanic representation at all levels in corporate America, but the journey begins with getting a foot in the door, and this is a challenge that deserves a fresh look and ongoing attention. I’m pleased to be part of this important conversation.”

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) CEO Sindy Benavides said, “We at LULAC have advocated and trained the workforce within our communities for decades. Recruitment and hiring practices that advance racial equity and create pathways to good jobs for workers from underserved communities will continue to be a top priority for LULAC. Latino representation at all levels is critical to ensuring diversity, inclusion, and equity at workplaces across the country. Employers must do their part and federal agencies should use their convening power to bring diverse interests together to tackle unfair recruitment and hiring practices to ensure Latinos, and all workers, have a fair shot.”

HIRE will engage a broad array of stakeholders in pursuit of a common goal – to help address key hiring and recruiting challenges that prevent underrepresented communities from accessing good jobs. Many employers and worker organizations are seeking actionable strategies to ensure that DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility) programs promote meaningful progress while ensuring compli­ance with equal employment opportunity laws. The EEOC and OFCCP will convene a series of roundtables and meetings to identify actionable strategies to promote organizational policies and practices that advance equity. The agencies will develop materials such as guidance documents or promising practice resources. These resources will promote evidence-based research and innovative initiatives aimed at embedding equity in recruitment and hiring practices.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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