WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today launched the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity with a roundtable discussion reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

HIRE is a multi-year collaborative effort chaired by OFCCP Director Jenny R. Yang and EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows 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 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,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang.

“The HIRE initiative aims to expand employment opportunities as our nation recovers from the pandemic,” said Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 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.”

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.

“What better time – as we mark Dr. King’s historic legacy – to introduce the HIRE initiative, which furthers the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’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,” said EEOC Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels.

“I applaud the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs 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,” said Association of Corporate Counsel President and CEO Veta T. Richardson. “A key partner in this effort will be in-house counsel, who play a central role in developing, implementing, and updating their organization’s 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.”

“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,” said President and CEO of APTMetrics Dr. Kathleen K. Lundquist. “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.”

“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,” said Project Director and Founder of UCLA Labor Center’s Los Angeles Black Worker Center Lola Smallwood Cuevas.

“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,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond. “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.”

“I applaud this initiative to rethink hiring practices to promote true diversity in the workforce. At the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, 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,” said HACR President and CEO Cid Wilson. “I’m pleased to be part of this important conversation.”

“We at the League of United Latin American Citizens 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,” said CEO Sindy Benavides. “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 diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility programs promote meaningful progress while ensuring compli­ance with equal 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 initiatives aimed at embedding equity in recruitment and hiring practices.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. For more information, call the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251.

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