With a plethora of information to cover and connections to be made, DirectEmployers rolled out the red carpet while bringing over 400 of its Members, partners and invited guests to the Circle City to host its 2015 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM15) from May 13-15 at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, attendees had a chance to hear from their peers on topics such as VEVRAA and Section 503 gaps that still exist, audit preparation tips, recruiting tactics and strategies to help diversify hiring efforts.

DEAM15 Registration

Attendees line up to register and grab their conference swag bags.

As the Association continues to grow, so has the involvement in our Annual Meeting & Conference and we are happy to report that this year’s attendance included a record turnout of representatives from our Member companies, 72 partner and guest organizations and 31 representatives from state, college and nonprofit organizations.

DEAM15 Pre-Conference Workshops

This year’s conference introduced attendees to a new pre-conference structure that focused on two major components of membership–OFCCP compliance and recruitment marketing. These workshops ran simultaneously and gave attendees a chance to educate themselves on the changing OFCCP regulations and recruitment marketing trends.

Affirmative Action Briefing

Dubbed the Affirmative Action Briefing, this three-session workshop was presented by two expert members of our compliance team–DirectEmployers’ VP of Compliance and Partnerships, Candee C. Chambers, CAAP, SPHR, and employment law expert, John C. Fox of Fox, Wang & Morgan, P.C.

These sessions began with giving attendees a detailed look at the essential components of affirmative action programs where John C. Fox retold a historical account of the OFCCP and how the regulations have transformed into what we see today. After a quick break, the sessions resumed to discuss utilization analyses and effectiveness reviews. During this session Candee and John discussed the OFCCP’s new requirement under Section 503 that contractors use the “any difference” rule to measure achievement with the OFCCP’s utilization goal in each of the contractors’ job groups. Candee also discussed the newly required annual “Effectiveness Reviews.” The Affirmative Action Briefing concluded with tips on the proper ways contractors should prepare disparity analysis in their affirmative action plans (AAPs).

Recruitment Marketing

On the other side of the house, recruiters had the opportunity to hear from DirectEmployers Digital Strategists on the trends in recruitment marketing and how they could incorporate them into their organization’s strategy. The Recruitment Marketing workshop kicked off by giving attendees tips on how to turn their career site into a virtual recruiter. DirectEmployers’ Steven Apostolidis presented upon the state of career sites and the ways employers can improve the current model and methods to better manage the candidate flow and experience. Ruth Toombs took the stage next and began with the untold fairytale of recruitment marketing and discussed how recruitment and marketing fundamentals go hand-in-hand to attract top talent. Her session dove into what a successful recruitment marketing platform is comprised of and implementation tips to align with your organization’s goals. Next up, Alex Amerling discussed the world of HR in terms of comparing recruiting practices around the globe. Seth Flater ended the workshop by discussing career site implementation and four different scenarios that he has encountered when executing Member recruitment marketing plans.  

Col. Sutherland After the pre-conference workshops, DEAM15 officially kicked off with its first keynote Colonel David Sutherland from Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services. As a 29-year U.S. Army veteran, he culminated his career as the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regaled the crowd with an inspirational and powerful presentation. He focused on the value of veterans in the workforce and noted that all vets need is some understanding, recognition and assistance during their transition; they are not looking for handouts, but simply a hand up.

DEAM15 |  2014 Member Award Winners

2014 Member Award winners take the stage to receive their awards.

The day ended by bringing the 2014 Member Award winners to the stage to receive their awards and gain a warm applause for their collective efforts. Pam Gerassimides, Assistant Executive Director at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), was also called to the stage and presented with this year’s WOW Award in recognition of her contribution the HR industry and efforts to bring states and employers closer together.

DEAM15 Kicks Off on a High Note

DEAM15 | Michael Goldberg & Candee Chambers

Nothing awakens attendees like an 8:00 AM sing-along!

After a brief DirectEmployers welcome, the crowd was awakened by a lively rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” led by none other than American Heart Association’s Michael Goldberg. Who needs coffee anyways? After a quick song, the discussion got more serious as he and DirectEmployers’ Candee Chambers addressed VEVRAA (4212) and Section 503 regulations and where federal contractors are now, using results from a survey that was sent prior to DEAM15 as the conversation starter.

Next up was DEAM15’s second keynote, Colet Mitchell of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). With a focus on disability hiring, Colet Mitchell highlighted ODEP’s Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) and their database of college students and graduates with disabilities. To tap into this program, visit http://www.WRP.jobs.

After a quick break, attendees had the opportunity to hear from DirectEmployers’ VP of Digital Strategy, Heather Hoffman, and Digital Strategy Support Representative, Drew Palmer, on the merging of progressive advertising tactics and recruitment marketing to create a stand-out brand. Their vibrant and visually appealing presentation captured the attention of the audience as they discussed brand identity, how to take your branding to the next level and enhance the job seeker experience.

DEAM15 Event Photo

No presentation is complete without an on-stage selfie with the DEAM15 crowd.

The morning’s general session ended with a PRM update from DirectEmployers’ Assistant VP of Membership Development, AJ Selvey. With many employers using the Partner Relationship Manager (PRM) for their outreach and tracking efforts, AJ highlighted new enhancements and features, and discussed a roadmap for what developments are in store for this valuable compliance tool.

DEAM15 Day Two

With morning breakout sessions on the last day of DEAM15, attendees convened in the general session hall for the final sessions of the conference–including keynote speaker and WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings.

After lunch, attendees heard an update from Easter Seals’ AVP of Business Innovation, Erik Cooke. After an excellent PSA on veteran hiring, Erik encouraged Members to utilize their local Easter Seals chapters as part of their veteran and disability hiring strategies by stating, “We’re not just service providers; we’re advocates for the people we serve and support.”

DEAM15 | Bridging the Gap Panel

Panelists discussing advice for bridging the gap between recruitment and compliance.

To tie in with the conference theme of “Bridging the Gap Between Recruitment and Compliance,” the final general session of the conference ended with a panel of individuals who provided tips on how attendees could work more closely together to achieve their company’s mutual goals.

After the final panel, WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings took the stage as the last keynote speaker of the conference to share her amazing story of perseverance and strength. As a person with a hearing impairment, Tamika is all too familiar with the struggle of a disability and shared her story and ability to overcome adversity. She inspired the audience to find what they are passionate about and write it down and work toward that goal. After her keynote speech, Tamika took photos with attendees and gave them the opportunity to interact one-on-one.

DEAM15 | Tamika Catchings

WNBA All-star Tamika Catchings shares her inspiring story of how she overcame adversity with the DEAM15 audience.

I think it’s safe to say that DEAM15 was another successful conference for the books! We hope everyone had a great time in Indianapolis and look forward to hosting you again next year at DEAM16! If you didn’t have the opportunity to speak this year, we encourage you to submit a proposal to speak at DEAM16 by July 31, 2015. Also, if you haven’t viewed the event photos, check them out at http://app.ly/DEAM15pics and, as always, Members can view DEAM15 presentations in the Member-only community, Pipeline. Stay tuned for more session recaps of DEAM15!

We also would like to thank our event underwriters–Beyond, ClearFit, EmployeeScreenIQ, i4CP, Juju, NACE, NASWA, PeopleFluent, SourceCast and Ticket to Work–for their support!

Jaime Costilow
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