In developing Affirmative Action Plans, one of the key parts of preparing plans is determining the availability settings for federal contractors. Availability considers a reasonable approximation of both the geographic areas outside the company where candidates are recruited, and making a reasonable list of the positions, groups, or individuals within the company who would be promotable or trainable upwards. From those two factors, a composite availability percentage is established.
Dialing in on the external availability and setting up the geographic areas where candidates are recruited, or the reasonable recruitment area, is extremely intuitive: make a literal map of where candidates are likely to reside. However, how should federal contractors determine what sub-populations within an area could be qualified for the jobs being posted and how can we determine the representation of minorities and females in that region? That’s where the census data and EEO tabulation come into play. The 2014 – 2018 Census EEO Tabulation is the most current and accepted source of availability data for any AAP created on or after January 1, 2022.
Let’s take the example of a company located in Washington DC, who wants to determine if they have underutilization of minorities or women in their Accounting department. It makes sense for this company to narrow their focus to the DC Metro area workforce–which comprises everyone from Accountants, HR Professionals, Sales Executives, Welders, Janitors, and any other job you could imagine—to only the workforce of people in the DC Metro area with the requisite skills to be an Accountant. This is done with census data. The census data provides a series of codes mapped to jobs to allow for the specific demographic breakdowns of professions in a geographical area. For this company, the Accounting job titles would be matched to code 0800 - Accountants and Auditors which shows minority representation at 51.25% and female representation at 59.66% in the DC Metro Area.
Now, consider how this company might determine the Recruitment Area if they are in Columbia, MD. Because Columbia is between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, this company tends to look for prospective Accounting professionals in both areas. This company may look at recruitment activity and see that out of the 10 positions open in the Accounting department, 6 were filled with a person in Washington DC and 4 were filled with a person in Baltimore. In this case, the Recruitment Area would be set as a composite: 60% Washington DC and 40% Baltimore, MD. The availability is determined by the weighted % of Minorities and Women with the requisite skills for Accounting jobs in those areas. Now, the census data in this new composite area shows minority representation at 44.23% and female representation at 60.04%.
Suppose this company is growing and expanding across the U.S, and they have decided that approximately 50% of the Accounting roles are going to be remote positions, anywhere in the country. In this example – and in many cases involving remote positions – it would be expected that they expand the recruitment area to include the entire United States. For this example, the company might set a Recruitment Area of 50% United States, 30% Washington DC, and 20% Baltimore MD. Since the population demographics of the United States in totality is different than that of Washington DC and Baltimore, the available number of Minorities and Women for Accounting jobs has now changed to minority representation at 37.25% and female representation at 60.55%.
Federal contractors should take great care in being specific in determining both the geographic area and the census match. The census data can break down a region by job role, and being very specific with the area and census codes selected will ensure accurate availability statistics. Using the external availability data from the EEO Tabulation, federal contractors can determine precisely whether their workforce is representative of the available workforce where they recruit for the types of jobs in their organization. During an audit, if OFCCP reviews a federal contractor’s availability settings and sees what they believe to be an unrepresentative availability of minorities and/or women in the external availability, they may request to review how the federal contractor arrived at the composite availability percentages in the plan.
Looking for more information? Check out A Deep Dive into Internal and External Availability, available on demand.