November 13, 2015

OFCCP’s new voluntary poster – is it misleading?

OFCCP has released a new voluntary poster: Opening Doors of Opportunity for ALL Workers. The poster emphasizes the agency’s goals of diversity and equal opportunity, as well as expectations that federal contractors “must treat workers fairly and without discrimination” and “pay all workers fairly.”

Although the intention of this poster may be good and bring awareness to OFCCP’s mission, the use of fairness language may be misleading in comparison to actual regulatory requirements. For us here at DCI and other experts in selection and compensation practices, fairness could mean a wide variety of things depending on context. For example, fairness may speak to people’s perceptions of decisions, or processes used to arrive at decisions, in terms of how just they seem. This may be independent of the actual objective equal treatment of different individuals. Importantly, OFCCP’s regulations only require the latter, not the former.

Though this may seem like a matter of semantics, the distinction between fairness and non-discrimination is important to keep in mind. While what constitutes discrimination is very well-defined within the body of OFCCP regulations, finding a way to ensure the perception of fairness would be very difficult indeed.

By Samantha Holland, Consultant and Kristen Pryor, Consultant at DCI Consulting Group

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