Today, people across the United States will reflect, honor, and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- father, husband, minister, civil rights leader, and champion for equality, justice, and human rights. This is a time for us all to reflect and remember Dr. King’s work in the fight for equal opportunity.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has helped define and defend equal opportunity in the American workplace for more than 50 years. The origins of the agency can be traced back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941. Executive Order 8802 was issued to prohibit federal contractors within the defense industry from discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity and was implemented in part at the urging of prominent civil rights leaders, most noticeably A. Philip Randolph. On September 24, 1965, more than two years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered him “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and more than a year after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law, the Nation took a historic step towards equal employment opportunity when President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, and soon thereafter, the Secretary of Labor established the Office of Federal Contract Compliance.
On Dr. King’s birthday and throughout the year, OFCCP recommits to answering Dr. King’s call “to ensure that we will one day live in a nation where people will not be “judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character,” and to build on his legacy to create a more equitable future, with equal opportunity for all.
This past fiscal year, the agency secured more than $20 million in relief for over 11,000 American workers. In a recent settlement with Bank of New York Mellon Corp., we remedied pay disparities affecting 120 female workers in investment services technology positions and 47 Black and 26 Hispanic workers in the technology services group. In the conciliation agreement, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. agreed to pay these workers $1.925 million in back wages and interest and make salary adjustments to remedy significant pay disparities based on gender, race, and/or ethnicity, review and revise its overall compensation system, provide enhanced training to its managers to ensure future compliance and analyze compensation annually for disparities.
OFCCP has also worked diligently to identify barriers to equal opportunity and strengthen recruiting, hiring, pay setting, and promotional practices to ensure all workers from every zip code in America can access good jobs. This month marks one year since the launch of our joint initiative with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity (HIRE). HIRE is a multi-year initiative that engages a broad array of stakeholders in pursuit of a common goal – to expand access to good jobs for workers from underrepresented communities and help address key hiring and recruiting challenges. The HIRE initiative held four successful roundtable discussions in 2022, the first one building on Dr. King's legacy.
As the nation continues to make major investments in its infrastructure and recovery, OFCCP is working with the Department of Labor on the Good Jobs Initiative. This initiative is focused on providing critical information to workers, employers, and the government as they work to improve job quality and create access to good jobs free from discrimination and harassment for all working people. In FY 23, OFCCP will launch its Mega Construction Project Program, a special initiative to foster equal opportunity in the construction trades, to help ensure that the landmark federal infrastructure investments create good jobs that provide equal opportunity to all. The department has engaged both small and large employers across the country to showcase how they are recruiting and retaining diverse workers by investing in training, higher wages, benefits, and respecting workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain.
As we approach MLK Day, we hope you will find an opportunity to volunteer or commit to a service project in your area. Please visit MLK Day | AmeriCorps to learn more.
The agency will continue to work tirelessly to eliminate workplace discrimination and will collaborate with federal contractors and stakeholders to build more inclusive workplaces that make equal opportunity a top priority. All of us have a role to play in honoring Dr. King's legacy and making his dream our reality