OFCCP compliance has been weighing heavily on the minds of federal contractors since the Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) were issued back in 2011. DirectEmployers Association realized it only made sense to schedule the 2014 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM14) near Washington, D.C. the week of March 24 – when the new Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations went into effect.
Historically the DirectEmployers Annual Meeting & Conference has taken place in the fall, but despite having half the time to plan and promote, DEAM14 had a record-breaking turnout including DirectEmployers’ Member Companies, and 82 partners, 11 underwriters, 17 non-profits/governement organizations and 15 states: Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Texas, Minnesota, Georgia, Virginia, Washington State, North Dakota and Montana.
While the conference portion of DEAM14 ran March 26-27, several significant activities took place on Tuesday, March 25.
After a successful debut in 2013, the Veterans Connect Career Fair (VCCF) returned. Even though snowy weather conditions created less-than-desirable traffic, nearly 200 attendees still came out to the event for the opportunity to network with employers like Intel, United Airlines, ABB and more. Resumes were collected and emailed to participating employers for an opportunity to further analyze each job seeker’s skill set.
In addition to the VCCF, DirectEmployers’ partner, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hosted an Employer Regulatory Summit to focus on what has been happening in Washington, D.C. and the critical issues impacting the university relations and recruitment profession. DirectEmployers Members were invited and several took advantage of the unique opportunity.
The “Annual Meeting” component of DEAM14, which encapsulates the Board of Directors meeting, introduced the newly elected members for the ensuing year and discussed the operations and plans for the Association. Rhonda Stickley, SPHR, was welcomed back as President for the 2014-2015 term. In addition, the National Labor Exchange (NLx) Operations and Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC) held afternoon meetings.
That evening, attendees packed into the Welcome Reception to mingle and explore the Demo Hall. Mirroring the same approach as DEAM13, exhibiting companies were encouraged to focus on educating attendees on new technologies and trends in lieu of the hard sell atmosphere of traditional industry conferences.
The Demo Hall also featured a team of DirectEmployers’ staff providing live demos and answering questions around the Partner Relationship Manager (PRM), the newest Member benefit designed to assist with tracking outreach efforts and measuring effectiveness with partners on the local level.
After pre-conference festivities, attendees either called it a day or took advantage of the close proximity to the nation’s capital to tour historic monuments and surroundings.
Wednesday morning started bright and early. After breakfast, participants gathered in the Regency Ballroom for a morning of general sessions. President Rhonda Stickley began with welcome remarks then turned it over to VP of Compliance & Partnerships, Candee Chambers to fulfill DEAM14 emcee duties for the rest of the conference.
The presentation of the WOW Award was next. This year’s recipient was Rich Hobbie, Executive Director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA). The WOW Award is given annually by DirectEmployers Association to recognize individuals who are driving technology and innovation in the human resources field, in addition to giving back to the community. The award is named to honor the legacy of Executive Director William O. Warren.
Tom Eckhart of DirectEmployers Association, Rosa Coppedge of Sodexo and Beth Ronnenburg of Berkshire Associates then joined Candee on stage for the first formal general session, which was an in-depth analysis on newly required data elements for VEVRAA and Section 503. Step-by-step guidance on the data collection process for veteran and IWD AAPs in addition to action items needed to maintain compliance was provided.
Employment law expert John C. Fox followed with his keynote address, which focused on pivotal moments that led up to the current state of employment law. Civil Rights protestors climbing the unfinished Gateway Arch in 1964, Section 503’s fruition during the Nixon Administration, and the treatment of Vietnam Era Veterans were just a few of the historical turning points John covered as he reached the present day state of affairs.
With a career that includes over 300 days of trial, and a previous role as Executive Assistant to the Director of the OFCCP, John’s unique experience and in-depth knowledge, mixed with his sense of humor, made a traditionally dry topic quite entertaining!
After a half hour break, attendees returned and listened to Social Media Manager Katie Pfledderer as she gave a brief overview of the Member-exclusive online community Pipeline. Annette Rosta of KPMG then discussed how her involvement with DirectEmployers has been rewarding both professionally and personally. In both segments, emphasis was put on how actively engaging with DirectEmployers creates a positive impact in many ways, including the products and services developed by the DirectEmployers Product Development team. To demonstrate the correlation, the product roadmap was shared through a whiteboard video illustrated by Jason Sole, Director of Production.
During the next segment, Jonathan Rosenberg, Manager of Talent Planning and Acquisition for Phillips 66 and VP of Digital Strategy, Heather Hoffman, examined how a .JOBS digital strategy helped Phillips 66 reach 47,000 conversions through a holistic approach that included targeted niche sites, a military skills translator and an events platform. More impressive was the fact that it was all accomplished while unhinging the tech department from recruiting.
AJ Selvey, Assistant VP of Member Services, unveiled the Partner Relationship Manager (PRM) with the help of Katie Pfledderer and Jason Sole. The new VEVRAA and Section 503 regs require federal contractors to build meaningful relationships with diversity, disability, veteran, women and other minority organizations. Tracking all of this information and demonstrating effectiveness is a critical component and PRM was designed after to streamline this process by providing a single location to enter, access and store the data. A specific use case scenario between a recruiter and vet rep was enacted by AJ and Katie, with narration by Jason, to illustrate how PRM could be used. PRM was well-received by Members, and attendees could get a first-hand look at the PRM in the Demo Hall.
Presenters from organizations such as UnitedHealth Group, Intel, Virginia Employment Commission, NASWA, EEOC and Cornell University spent the rest of the afternoon sharing their expertise through concurrent sessions covering a wide breadth of topics including: diversity sourcing, veteran hiring, state workforce agencies, EEOC’s enforcement plan, talent communities, branding and disability outreach.
An evening reception gave attendees the opportunity to unwind and venture back into the Demo Hall for more learning and networking.
Thursday started with more concurrent workshops. Pinnacle Affirmative Action Services, AlliedBarton Security Services, OfficeMax, Hyatt, Charles Schwab, Sodexo and the National Organization on Disability were just a few of the many great organizations sharing valuable knowledge with DEAM14 participants.
Attendees reconvened in a general session as Jennifer Giering of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shared how Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) assists with OFCCP required outreach. Jennifer shared that HOH documented 22,000 hires last year due to outreach and that one million veterans will transition into the civilian workforce over the next 3-5 years. In addition, HOH announced a new partnership with DirectEmployers and NASWA. Through this partnership, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program will be provided with an innovative way to utilize job listings through the National Labor Exchange.
The conference ended on a high note as disability advocate John Robinson received a standing ovation for his keynote address. Born a congenital amputee, he has no hands. In addition, his arms stop at his elbows and his lower legs are attached to his hips without knees. He educated the audience through sharing his own life experiences and interactions. One of his stories was about a colleague who didn’t know how to shake his hand. “Squeeze my arm like you care,” was John’s response. He reminded the room of employers that people with a disability are built-in problem solvers. John serves as Managing Partner and CEO of Our Ability, a company owned and operated by People with Disabilities to support People with Disabilities. Our Ability offers services to connect people with disabilities, as well as veterans with employers, to proactively prepare them for the workforce. “Often times opportunities are disguised as challenges,” was the message that resonated the most. After his presentation, John signed copies of his book and took photos with DEAM14 attendees.
Our sincerest thank you to all of our Members, partners, supporters and staff that helped plan our record-breaking event in record time. Read more about the concurrent sessions at DirectEmployers.org/blogs or read through the DEAM14 chatter on social media using the #DEAM14 hashtag. Members can access DEAM14 presentations on Pipeline. Photos are also available at http://app.ly/DEAM14 (case sensitive).
DEAM15 will take place May 13-15, 2015 in Indianapolis and we are currently looking for presenters who would like to showcase their expertise and experience. Submit your proposal to speak by visiting: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DEAM15callforpresenters. More information and registration is available at http://DEAM15.DirectEmployers.org.