“The Labor Department’s compliance office has waived some contractor affirmative action requirements for three months as the COVID-19 pandemic presses companies and federal agencies to quickly meet demands.
The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on March 17 temporarily waived some contractors’ affirmative action requirements under the three statutes it oversees.
The waiver will last until June 17, but it doesn’t put aside requirements for those contractors to enforce other federal, state and local civil rights laws, nor does it stop processing of discrimination complaints.
“Following President Trump’s direction, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is committed to swiftly responding to COVID-19,” said OFCCP Director Craig Leen, in the statement. “Today’s memorandum helps federal agencies and federal contractors engaged in relief efforts to protect the safety, security and health of the American people.”
“The waiver is not uncommon” in times of big crisis situations, Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, a Washington D.C.-based equal opportunity advocacy and training group, told FCW on March 23.
Similar contracting actions have been taken in the wake of other major disasters such as catastrophic hurricanes to help speed response, but they’re hardly welcomed with open arms, according to Wilcher. “Equal opportunity shouldn’t take a holiday.”
In 2005, the Labor Department’s Employment Standards Office issued a similar three-month waiver for contractor affirmative action rules to aid in Hurricane Katrina recovery.”
TAP was created to give employment and training information to armed forces members within 180 days of separation or retirement. TAP offers a three-day workshop that all ex-military job seekers should use. The workshop covers the following topics:
Several employers appreciate the qualities ex-military personnel bring to a civilian job. Furthermore, you’re likely to find co-workers who formerly served in the military. They can mentor you as you ease into a new working environment. For example, P&G has a networking group called “Blue and Grey” where ex-military employees help one another. Home Depot, General Electric, and Proctor and Gamble actively recruit former military officers.
A key to getting the job is fitting in — not only do you have to demonstrate the right skills, but you also need to adopt the right body language and speech. Here are a few examples:
Be wary of military jargon. Rather than say you were the “black swan” expert, explain that you developed contingency plans for rare events.
Rather than use military time, use civilian time. That is, instead of confirming an interview for 15-hundred hours, use 3 pm.
No need to address your professional contacts as Sir or Ma’am. You can typically address them by their first name.
5. Connect with recruiters and headhunters who focus on military to civilian transitions.
Two of the key leaders in the field include Lucas Group and Bradley Morris. Lucas Group has helped 25,000 officers and technicians to transition from military service into civilian careers, usually matching more junior personnel with technical and sales roles, and senior personnel with director of business development roles. Bradley Morris is another military-focused headhunter that boasts a 96% customer satisfaction rate.
6. Play up your strengths as an ex-military candidate.
Military veterans are known for precise communication, individual accountability, impeccable execution and natural leadership. Don’t forget to showcase this during the interview. All four skills are in high demand, regardless of position. Give yourself credit for strengths that many non-military job candidates lack. Other key skills to play up: poise, ingenuity, and ability to handle stressful situations well.
Applying for jobs online may seem like an efficiency way to get jobs, but the reality is it doesn’t work well. For any given job opening, recruiters are bombarded with hundreds, possibly thousands of openings. To rise above the noise, you’ll have to network.
Start with veterans who are now in the corporate world. Don’t rush to ask for a job. If there’s no job available, the remaining time becomes one big letdown. Instead, take time to know the person. Ask how they approached the transition from a military to civilian career. Only at the end of the conversation is it ok for you to ask whether or not they are aware of any job openings. To connect with veterans for your career search, visit the Military.com Career Network.
FIND THE RIGHT VETERAN JOB
Whether you want to polish up your resume, find veteran job fairs in your area, or connect with employers looking to hire veterans, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have job postings, guides and advice, and more delivered directly to your inbox.
Lewis Lin is the CEO of Impact Interview. He has over 10 years of experience in the career management industry. Before Impact Interview, Lewis was Microsoft’s Director of Product Management and Marketing. Lewis also worked in Microsoft’s Hotmail product planning and Windows Server marketing teams, and has held key roles at Google, Citigroup, and Sun Microsystems (now Oracle). Lewis received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Lewis also has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford University.”
“Many veterans face a frustrating catch-22 upon exiting the military: Most jobs require experience, but it’s almost impossible to get experience without a job.
That’s where a program like Apprenti comes in. It removes the burden of experience and education by immediately placing qualifying veterans in relatively well-paying technology apprenticeships, where they will learn the skills required to succeed in the industry.”
“A lot of those who come to us are not prepared to go back to college for four more years and use their GI Bill that way,” said Jennifer Carlson, executive director of both Apprenti and the Washington Technology Industry Association Workforce Institute, based in the state of Washington.
“They want to go to a job,” she continued. “This is a great transition point with a much more accelerated time investment to a career.”
It’s a simple process: Veterans take a free online assessment that tests them on both basic math abilities and soft skills like leadership qualities and critical thinking. They have two tries to pass it and must wait three months before trying again if they don’t.
Once they pass, the top one-third of candidates will be offered interviews at tech companies including but not limited to industry giants like Microsoft and Amazon. They will stay in this apprenticeship — earning a median salary of $51,000 per year, plus benefits — for a minimum of one year, and if all goes well, they will be offered a permanent job upon graduation.
The program is GI Bill-eligible, so veterans will be able to use the benefit to pay for living expenses. And some of the larger companies Apprenti places candidates in are even willing to help out with university tuition for veterans seeking a more formal education once they are hired on full-time.
According to Carlson, 85 percent of the participants Apprenti places are retained by the company with which they did their apprenticeship. She also said that 46 percent of placements begin the program without a degree of any kind, but they still land jobs with titles like software developer and system administrator.
“These are middle-skills jobs, not entry-level ones like a help desk,” she said. “These are jobs that have natural career progressions, and you’re going to grow with your company.”
These apprenticeships are different from internships, which usually require affiliation with a university, only last about three to five months and tend to be less focused on doing one specific job.
None of that applies to these apprenticeships, which are open to anyone 18-and-over, last at least a year and ensure you receive training in the role in which the company hopes to retain you.
“You are a hire. You are in that job. The company is paying you a training wage, which is where you get to earn and learn,” Carlson said. “Internship is try-before-you-buy, and apprenticeships are train-to-retain.”
Apprenti has only been around since late 2016, but Carlson said that the number of graduates these companies keep has already grown from a “handful or two” to the hundreds. She expects to place over 450 apprentices in tech jobs around the country in 2019.
Carlson said that 58 percent of Apprenti placements are veterans, many of who are feeling stuck, despite often having professional experience and some education.
“When we look at where competency lies, you have a lot of people who choose to go to second-tier colleges and who are working while in school,” Carlson said. “They have skills, they did the college thing, they just didn’t do STEM. So they have the competency to do the work, but they have no pathway in, short of going back to school and taking on that debt.”
The other part of this equation is the boon to the tech sector, which Carlson described as being severely understaffed across the board. She said that the industry currently has 2 million vacancies, yet only 65,000 students a year are graduating with the necessary computer-science degrees to fill those roles.
Through her experience with the group based in Washington state, Carlson determined that tech companies were reeling both from this labor shortage and a lack of “people who were actually work-ready coming to them, which they didn’t feel many college students were.”
“Our thesis is that we can find highly competent people, without regard to pedigree,” Carlson said.
So, if you’re a veteran unsure what to do next and are interested in tech jobs — or just want to find work with benefits that could pay a median annual salary of $78,000 after a year of on-the-job training — Apprenti might be exactly what you need to jump-start a new career.”
“After publicly setting diversity goals in 2015, Pinterest, for example, boosted hiring rates of underrepresented people of color by 8 percentage points for technical roles and 5 percentage points for non-technical roles.
Since then, both Microsoft and Pandora have also taken similar steps to increase their own diversity.
The American tech industry remains a bastion of white, male privilege.
Even a cursory look at voluntary disclosures to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by American tech firms reveals huge racial disparities in the tech workforce compared to the private sector overall.
Adobe’s workforce is 69 percent white and Apple’s 56 percent. Google? 59 percent. Microsoft? 58 percent. The list goes on. Black people, Latinos, and Native Americans are underrepresented in tech by 16 to 18 percentage points compared with their presence in the US labor force overall.
Tech companies and investors should be concerned: Evidence strongly suggests that a racially diverse tech sector could translate into stronger financial performance. A McKinsey report showed a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and a company’s financial performance. “For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team,” the report stated, “earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.”
What’s more, companies in the top quartile in terms of racial diversity are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than the national median in their industry. In fact, one study by Intel and Dalberg found that the tech industry “could generate an additional $300-$370 billion each year if the racial/ethnic diversity of tech companies’ workforces reflected that of the talent pool.”
Despite this, tech companies’ efforts to address the issue, which are by no means new, have yet to result in significant change, according to our research. The industry’s fallback position has been to make investments intended to diversify the talent pipeline. However, research shows the pipeline isn’t the only problem. Case in point: Black people and Latinos earn nearly 18 percent of computer science degrees, but hold barely 5 percent of tech jobs. Meanwhile, there is no justification for the lack of diversity in the many non-technical roles—lawyers, PR staff, marketing staff, etc.—that are required to keep a tech company alive and well.
The problem is evident not only when it comes to hiring, but also retention. People of color who enter the tech industry leave the field at more than 3.5 times the rate of white men. We begin to see that the tech industry must confront a larger problem of systemic racial bias.
People of color report isolation, discrimination, and toxic work environments. They are promoted and paid less than their white counterparts. And they are excluded from executive level positions. In fact, fewer than 1 percent of Silicon Valley executives and managers are black, according to the EEOC.
In order to hold tech companies accountable to making change, we need a more comprehensive set of metrics to track and measure the problems. That begins with shareholders demanding more detailed disclosures that include data aggregated by both gender and race on topics like candidate pools and hiring pipelines. As tech leaders from Ellen Pao’s Project Include and elsewhere have made clear, we also need more information on hiring and promotion rates, as well as voluntary and involuntary attrition rates.
Beyond numbers, companies and their Boards of Directors also need to advance policies that have already proven successful, like developing and publicly disclosing time-bound goals for increasing racial diversity, and linking executive pay to the achievement of those goals.
In addition, it’s critical that companies engage white employees, especially executives, in ensuring that the responsibility to increase racial diversity falls on those who currently hold the most power and influence, rather than on the tech professionals of color who are most directly affected. And finally, more transparent and more thorough annual reporting on the status of the workforce, as well as on the status of diversity initiatives, will help ensure accountability.
Absent these changes, the tech industry will continue to perpetuate existing forms of racial bias and discrimination, which pose legal, financial, and reputational risks that will persist until the industry’s policies align with its rhetoric. Now would be as good a time as ever to recommit to tackling the problem, which would send a message to the whole country that diversity is not only good for business but also worth fighting for.”