April 07, 2006

Bush Administration Proposes Eliminating Equal Opportunity Survey

One of the ways we, the people, can monitor corporate behavior and hold corporations accountable for their actions is through governmental regulation. Another way is to encourage them to be more open in reporting to the public their actions with respect to issues like fair employment. When corporations operate more in the sunshine and less in the dark, there is an assumption they will behave more socially responsible.

The Bush administration is now proposing to eliminate a useful tool which helps keep corporations more open and responsive. The Equal Opportunity Survey provides data from the corporate workplace on affirmative action performance, and pay by gender and race.

From the proposed rule change:

Executive Order 11246, as amended, requires that Federal Government contractors and subcontractors ``take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.'' Section 202(1). Affirmative action under the Executive Order means more than passive nondiscrimination; it requires that contractors take affirmative steps to identify and eliminate impediments to equal employment opportunity. The affirmative steps include numerous recordkeeping obligations designed to assist the contractor, in the first instance, and also OFCCP in monitoring the contractor's employment practices.

This survey was created within the Clinton administration and supported by an across-the-board group of civil rights and fair employment groups, and social justice organizations. The Bush administration began the process of dismantling the Equal Opportunity Survey as soon as it took office.

"Of course I oppose the elimination of the EO Survey," said a source closely tied to the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). "This was the first time in history that the federal government had obtained compensation data on the establishment level. The real intent of the survey was to 'encourage' contractors to police themselves and to correct any disparities they found that were unexplainable before the government found them--I called the survey 'EEO-EZ,' like the tax form," the source said. "The survey was strongly supported by the Labor Department and the Clinton Administration as part of the Equal Pay Initiative, but when the Bush Administration arrived, they made efforts to limit the survey by sending out only 10,000 surveys a year, in lieu of the 50,000 that we envisioned sending out to contractor establishments--roughly half of the non-construction contractor universe." [From SocialFunds.com]

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