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Advancing Equity: Latest Updates to the DOL’s Equity Action Plan Revealed

By Debra Milstein Gardner - Feb 27, 2024 10:30:00 AM - 4 MINS READ

In a concerted effort to address disparities and promote fairness in the workplace, the US Department of Labor (DOL) recently unveiled updates to its Equity Action Plan (EAP) for 2023 (DOL press release). Among the notable aspects of this update are specific action items concerning the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) underscoring the agency's commitment to fostering inclusivity and combating discrimination within federal contractor workplaces.

Outlined within the plan are three key OFCCP-specific initiatives:

  1. Expansion of Agency Partnerships: OFCCP aims to broaden its partnerships through its Megaproject Program. By collaborating with various stakeholders, including federal contractors, advocacy groups, and community organizations, the agency seeks to enhance its outreach and enforcement efforts, thereby promoting greater compliance with equal employment opportunity regulations.
  2. Development of Best Practices for Gender-Based Violence Prevention: Recognizing the prevalence of gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace, OFCCP intends to develop a comprehensive set of best practices for federal contractors and subcontractors. These guidelines will outline strategies for creating safe work environments that are free from gender-based violence, ensuring the well-being and security of all employees.
  3. Guidance on Salary History Inquiries: In anticipation of forthcoming rulemaking by the FAR Council prohibiting salary history inquiries by federal contractors, OFCCP plans to publish sub-regulatory guidance clarifying the potential discriminatory implications of relying on salary history in hiring and compensation decisions. This guidance will help contractors navigate compliance with Executive Order 11246 and promote fair and equitable hiring practices.

Julie Su, acting secretary of the Labor Department, emphasized the importance of embedding equity across all agency functions, emphasizing the value of diverse and inclusive decision-making processes.

In tandem with the Department of Labor's unveiling of its Equity Action Plan updates, the White House also announced that multiple federal agencies, including all Cabinet-level agencies, had released their own Equity Action Plans for 2023 (White House Equity Action Plan Program Report). These plans are designed to asses the equity of agency policies and actions, reflecting a comprehensive commitment across the government to address systemic disparities and promote fairness in various sectors. This coordinated effort underscores the administration's dedication to advancing equity and inclusion throughout all levels of government, signaling a collective endeavor to create a more just and equitable society.




As the DOL leads efforts to address systemic disparities, federal agencies need to adopt comprehensive approaches to advance equity, ensuring equal opportunities for all in the workplace. The DOL prioritizes equity and inclusion, with the OFCCP's action items playing a critical role in ensuring federal contractors provide fair opportunities. While specific to OFCCP, these actions align with broader goals outlined in the DOL's Equity Action Plan for 2023. Together the DOL and OFCCP aim to create a more just labor landscape, free from discrimination and bias, promoting opportunities for all to thrive.

Debra Milstein Gardner

Debra Milstein Gardner has worked in the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA) space for the past 43 years while working in the public and private sectors in various human resources compliance roles. She began her career working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then went to the Marriott Corporation for nine years working in EEO, Affirmative Action and field human resource roles. In 1990, Debra founded Workplace Dynamics LLC providing EEO, AA, and DEI consulting services to government contractors. In 2016, Debra sold the affirmative action portion of Workplace Dynamics to OutSolve LLC and works part-time as a Market Analyst. Debra is a sports fanatic, routing for the Baltimore Ravens and all Virginia Tech Hokie teams. She loves to hike and boat in her mountain and lake community of Lake Lure, NC.

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