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Confused About Which Consultant to Select? Please Read Our Article Below About How to Make The Best Choice.
How to Choose the Best Affirmative Action Consultant for Your Company By: Elaine M. Smith, SPHR Owner and Managing Consultant Benchmark Outsourcing Group
So, you've done extensive online research for your Affirmative Action Plan Outsourcing you've visited websites and requested proposals. Sounds fairly simple, right? Well, when the proposals start coming in, the task that seemed so simple may suddenly become overwhelming. Why? Because proposals are often different in significant ways.
Your quotes may vary in price, in guaranteed rates, in offerings, in ongoing consultation, in services offered, in the level of customer service, in free services, in turnaround time, etc. And, the consulting firms themselves may vary as significantly as the proposals they submit. There are even software packages that will allow you to generate your own plan.
Although there are many reputable consultants who can provide written plans, others who can provide plans and audit support and still others who may provide a combination of these or some reports, bells or whistles that you may have never even heard of, how in the world do you decide and move forward?
At Benchmark, we suggest that first and foremost you select a quality consultant or service backed by a solid human resource or legal background and extensive experience in plan development and audit support. With so many reputable AAP consultants to choose from, this important decision must be made from the perspective of which one is best for your particular needs and your company.
Affirmative Action Plans and OFCCP Audits must be handled by competent professionals who understand the regulations and requirements and who have a successful track record in this area. Otherwise, you may face penalties or even risk losing your government contracts.
If you have someone on your staff who is experienced with plans and audits and who has time to devote to learning, maintaining and focusing on regulations, intricate software and updates, and who can give this job a massive amount of attention, the software route may be a good solution. However, if your staff does not have focus time and a strong working knowledge of the regulations and contractor and Affirmative Action requirements, then you should consider hiring an experienced consulting firm.
You should not be fooled into thinking that you must have a local AAP vendor. This is not necessarily the case. Benchmark Outsourcing Group and many other reputable AAP consultants actually have very few local clients, rather, our clients are based in most states throughout the country. Most AAP work can easily be handled via electronic files, email, and telephone communication.
When making a decision on a vendor, we suggest that you review credentials of the owner of the company. You should feel free to check references, consider longevity, background and experience and take a look at sample reports.
You should also not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a vendor offers you something that no other vendor offers that this is particularly important. The most important thing to consider is whether you will be receiving a plan that complies with the basic OFCCP requirements for government contractors and subcontractors. All the extras may not even be important in the scheme of things. These bells and whistles as I prefer to call them, may sound good and the plan may have a few more reports, but are these reports actually required? Many are not. Many such extras are fine, but not necessary and are just a way of getting your business and/or more money for the job.
In actuality, all OFCCP plans, procedures and systems are designed to ensure that a Contractor is making a good faith effort and not discriminating against females or minorities and that they give special consideration to the disabled and Veterans. All plans must meet the same basic requirements which are clearly spelled out in Executive Order 11246 and all other related laws and regulations. Consultants can either provide the services to help you meet those requirements or they can't. I would venture to say that most vendors offer those basic requirements and anything beyond that may simply be fluff.
Here are some things you should consider when selecting your Consultant. First, take a look at the company's background and ability to help you through audits successfully. You will want to have a consultant who offers excellent customer service and who is willing to respond at a moment's notice if you receive an OFCCP compliance review letter or other request (desk audit, notice to show cause, on-site audit, etc). It's one thing to be able to produce a plan, but another to understand what the plan really means and to be able to explain this to you and the OFCCP if necessary.
You should also take a look at the Consultant's ability to assist you with your systems, procedures, policies, postings, and other EEO requirements established by the OFCCP. Benchmark offers such services because we want to make sure our clients are in compliance in every way. Its simply not enough to produce a plan, put it on the bookshelf and hope your company is not audited. There are many other requirements in the regulations and your Consulting Firm should be prepared and capable of helping you meet these requirements. Your Consultant should also understand what's going on in the day to day world of clients who are currently being audited, what they are encountering and what is expected to make a good faith effort to correct underutilization. Not only should your Consultant understand these things, but they should automatically communicate audit trends and regulation changes to you on a regular basis as part of their service to your company.
In summary, although it seems overwhelming, it is really not a difficult task to choose a good Affirmative Action Consultant who can meet your needs and ensure your compliance with requirements expected by the OFCCP. When making this choice, look beyond the cost and even the bells and whistles. Make sure your consultant is reputable and understands your needs and the OFCCP's expectations of you as a government contractor or subcontractor. And, make sure that your Consultant comes highly recommended and offers a strong background and personal service to support you in your compliance efforts. Finally, if there is something being offered by one Consultant that is not being offered by another, take a moment to ask the other consultant why they have chosen not to offer this service. More than likely the other Consultant can offer exactly the same extras or bells and whistles if this is important to you, however, there may be a very valid reason for not offering this service that you should understand and that can easily be explained to you.
What's Different About Benchmark?
We focus on your EEO efforts by developing your Affirmative Action Plans, supporting you with OFCCP Audits, setting up your required systems, updating you on changes in regulations and OFCCP requirements and giving you and your staff ongoing training and consulting services. You'll get all of this PLUS Benchmark's unsurprassed customer service, fast turnaround, and 4 year guarantees on our low rates!
We assist with all of your OFCCP Affirmative Action systems and compliance needs such as applicant tracking, voluntary self-identification of applicants, annual letters to referral agencies, OFCCP required postings, development of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy, and other OFCCP and Equal Employment Opportunity requirements
We also provide guidance with OFCCP Affirmative Action requirements for your "good faith effort" to correct underutilization.
And, we also keep you updatepd on rapidly changing AAP laws and regulations affecting Human Resources and AAPs
As you consider Affirmative Action Plan Outsourcing, we're excited about telling you What Sets Benchmark Apart ........
With Benchmark, you can expect an affordable Affirmative Action plan (AAP) that meets all OFCCP audit and compliance requirements for Government Contractors. We've completed hundreds of plans and audits through the many years we've been in business and we have a 100% pass rate on all OFCCP audits. As seasoned Affirmative Action and HR Consultants, we also provide professional support for all of your Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity and Human Resource needs including your day to day required systems. Call us today if you need a plan or if you receive a compliance review letter from the OFCCP for a Desk Audit or On-site Review. Our job is to support you and make your job easier.
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