Cardinal Health
“… affirmative action done the right way and following the rules the way it’s supposed to be done, is a good thing for employers, for people and everyone else, and that’s the message I try to get out.”

Candee Chambers
SPHR, CAAP, Manager, Affirmative Action and EEO Compliance, Cardinal Health

Most people in the HR business don’t associate happy and bubbly personalities with folks tied to compliance roles, but that’s just one of the many ways Candee Chambers breaks the mold. Candee manages affirmative action and EEO compliance at Cardinal Health. During our annual conference, she spoke to us about her role, her perspective on compliance, pilot programs in the works, and what she values most about being a DirectEmployers Member.

Nancy: How did your path lead you to Cardinal Health?

Candee: I moved to Columbus after college because I followed my fiancé, and found employment initially, but I didn’t want to sell insurance. Eventually I got a job where I actually interviewed people and placed them in companies as temporaries. I basically managed that for about a year and a half, then, one of my clients recruited me. After completing a training program, I was placed into a supervisory position in marketing statistics, which was… well let’s just say I’m not a statistical person. Later, they decided to have an assistant personnel manager, and that was way back when it was called “personnel,” and I got the job. At that point I was around 25. I’ve been in HR ever since. A headhunter called me when I was 29 and I went to AEP. A friend of mine sent me the job posting for the position at Cardinal 22 years later, and so here I am.

Nancy: And what is your current role?

Candee: I’m the manager of affirmative action and EEO compliance. We have 99 affirmative action plans so I’m making sure they’re all put together. Whenever we have an audit, I work with the OFCCP. I’m also re-evaluating some things that may need changed or modified as well as a comp equity analysis for the various locations. We’re actually moving to a proactive approach in trying to do comp equity analysis across our system. It’s a big undertaking in addition to training recruiters and overseeing outreach, especially with the new veteran regulations and potential ADA-type regulations with people with disabilities.

Nancy: Why is this job a good fit for your personality?

Candee: I’ve really got an odd personality for the job that I have. I’m happy, bubbly – that’s just my personality. I walk down the street, see a stranger and I’ll smile and say hello. I’m not a “well, this is the law and this is what we have to do” person. I think there’s an unfortunate situation with affirmative action. People hear affirmative action and they think, “oh, that’s so stupid,” but affirmative action done the right way and following the rules the way it’s supposed to be done, is a good thing for employers, for people and everyone else, and that’s the message I try to get out. I love what I do.

Nancy: You truly have an impact in helping minorities, veterans and people with disabilities get access to job opportunities with the work you’re doing around managing the affirmative action programs at Cardinal. How does that make you feel?

Candee: I firmly believe that to get someone’s help, you need to try to help yourself first. And I think that unfortunately with the economy in this day and age, a lot of people think things should be given to them. But, I know a lot of people without jobs working very hard to get them. I have veterans and people with disabilities in my family. I’m a person with a disability. I’ve been fortunate to always have a job, but I also know people just like me… when I read about a diabetic who opened a bag of chips and got fired because she had a hypoglycemic episode I just sit there and think you’ve got to be kidding me. I think people need to try and focus on what we really can do. Doing more than just posting jobs out there, like outreach and building relationships. I think all companies need to become a little more visible in their various communities to let people know that they really do have jobs, and companies are willing to make accommodations for people with disabilities. Most people don’t even require an accommodation. Unfortunately, and especially with disabilities, I think people are so afraid to self-identify. I think that message hasn’t gotten out there.

In looking at veterans for example, I was in high school during Vietnam and people weren’t supportive of Vietnam vets, and that wasn’t a good time. But today people are supportive of the vets, but now they also need to be supportive of people with disabilities. I think women are getting more support. People of color are getting more support, but people with disabilities…there’s just a fear there and we keep seeing constant discrimination against those folks.

I’m actually working right now on doing a pilot with a rehabilitative services organization. Walgreens actually had a pilot in Anderson, South Carolina and they’re actually the leading employer as far as hiring people with disabilities. We have distribution centers too and I’m working on trying to set up a pilot in two of our locations to hire people with disabilities.

Nancy: We’ll look forward to hearing more about that pilot and how it goes! So the last thing I wanted to ask is, what is the value of being a Member of DirectEmployers?

Candee: DirectEmployers is an answer to every federal contractor’s prayers. When we found out they would take all of our jobs that we just posted anyway and route them to all the required locations for a federal contractor, we we’re thrilled. I mean, in my opinion, it would be silly not to become a member. I had gotten American Electric Power involved while I was there, and Cardinal Health had just become a member when I got here, so I was really excited about being able to continue the relationship. They just meet so many needs. I use the Direct Compliance reports, and being co-chair of the Ohio ILG, I know some of our members have sent their Direct Compliance Reports and that’s gotten them a full-compliance letter, because of that requirement to post with veteran reps and those folks.

Many special thanks to Candee for such a good conversation. DirectEmployers Members, be sure to check out Candee’s blog post on preparing for an OFCCP audit. You can also see Candee speak to job seekers about maintaining a positive attitude in a recent video created for the Social Jobs Partnership.

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