Equality in the workplace is a topic that puts everyone on the defense, but it is one of the few topics that we should fully embrace and talk about openly. Equality in the workplace isn’t about politics — until someone makes it about politics.
Many times when we see that things in the workplace are unequal it is because of systemic factors in society and underlying career funnels. For instance, a few years ago I hosted an event on Capitol Hill to celebrate female inventors. One of the speakers had some excellent insight into some of these problems facing women and how she was working to solve them.
The one that stuck out to me was that because there were fewer women in her program, there was a smaller pool of partners for studying together in the dorms. The men weren’t rejecting the women or being sexist, they were just studying in the easiest way possible. So, in her position at the school she made a change to the program that meant that more people studied in the library, and more women started staying in the program.
She noticed an invisible problem and solved it. Imagine how much less effective she would have been if she’d simply protested.
The Trump administration has the opportunity to make a similar fix for a problem created by the Obama administration, which filed a batch of midnight lawsuits against tech companies regarding equality in the workplace that should have been withdrawn by the Trump administration, but they weren’t. Instead, these companies are facing more and more harassment from the federal government.
The Trump administration was supposed to be different; they were supposed to streamline labor laws to promote economic growth.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, in the Department of Labor, is supposed to promote affirmative action with federal contractors, but, instead, they are aggressively harassing and suing companies for alleged discrimination. Reform is needed, and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia should immediately audit his own Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to dial back enforcement actions based on merely statistical evidence and lacking in traditional evidence.
In a report on Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs statistics put together by the Chamber of Commerce, they lay out some of the problems.
The OFCCP is too often antagonistic toward the regulated community, ignores the myriad and effective diversity efforts undertaken by contractors, engages in overly broad and unreasonable fishing expeditions for employment data, and pursues take-it-or-leave-it conciliation efforts. It is no stretch to say that many of these tactics have employers questioning whether they want to perform work for the federal government.
From demanding enormous amounts of data in short time frames and refusing to allow extensions on those demands to demanding to meeting with company CEOs who don’t have a detailed understanding of hiring processes and just plain bullying, the OFCCP has gone from promoting diversity to bullying companies. And they do this all while holding the power to debar or disqualify contractors from future federal contract opportunities.
Now, if these companies refused to work with the OFCCP at all, if they refused to change procedures that might be causing the diversity problems, then legal action might be necessary. However, legal action hurts the companies, hurts the value of the contract with the company, and, in the end, everyone loses, including the people and groups that the government is ostensibly trying to help. The OFCCP is treating potential allies like enemies and, well, making enemies.
I am the father of three girls, currently 8, 6, and 4, and they are amazing. I was raised by a single mother. I have been surrounded by strong women my whole life. I believe in workforce diversity. I believe that good things come out of having a diverse workforce.
However, the best effects come out of that diversity when the best people are hired to fill a spot and when those jobs end up being filled by an entrepreneur who wants the best people for their team. The best results don’t come from government bullying.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor, and for an academic think tank.
Published at Wed, 15 Jan 2020 05:39:00 +0000