If, in the course of a CMCE, a CO finds that a particular search firm may be discriminating in its recruitment or referral practices, he or she must inform his or her supervisor. As appropriate, OFCCP coordinates with EEOC to investigate the executive search firm under Title VII, as amended and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended. These laws cover the referral and employment practices of employment agencies. Moreover, if a contractor knowingly uses a search firm that discriminates, the contractor will be found in violation of the applicable law(s) enforced by OFCCP.
A CO engaged with a contractor using an executive search firm may want to ask several questions to understand that relationship. Some sample question areas for the contractor are below.
- Have you used executive or other search firms? When and how often? Which firms do you use most? Identify the positions or types of positions (e.g., fields, levels) for which you have used search firms?
- Have you informed those firms of your EEO/Affirmative Action policy? How? When?
- Who is responsible for monitoring search firm referrals to ensure that the firm complies with EEO and affirmative action requirements? How is monitoring accomplished?
- What is the demographic composition (race, ethnicity, sex, disability and protected veteran status) of those who the contractor hired from among search firm referrals? What efforts did the search firm make to ensure a diverse candidate pool?
COs must conduct an analysis of the information and data received from contractors on their sources of applicants and candidates. For each job filled with a referral from a search firm, the CO should determine, when possible:
- The qualifications the search firm used to refer a candidate;
- The extent to which the contractor approved these qualifications or the amount of input the contractor had in the process to refer a candidate;
- The total pool of candidates who met the requirements to be referred, by race, ethnicity, sex, disability and protected veteran status, and the total number of applicants actually referred by race, ethnicity, sex, disability and protected veteran status;
- The status of the selectee as a member of an underrepresented group;
- The presence of members of underrepresented groups among the referrals made by the search firm;
- The existence of members of underrepresented groups as applicants for the job from other external sources; and
- The existence of internal candidates for the job identified by race, ethnicity, sex, disability and protected veteran status.
A CO engaged with a contractor using employee referrals may want to ask several questions to understand that process. Some sample question areas for the contractor are below.
- How much, or to what degree, do you rely upon employee referrals for middle and senior-level management positions? Is this practice formal or informal?
- What is the typical relationship between the employee making the referral and the person being referred (e.g., used to work together, went to the same school, met through a professional association, belong to the same club, a neighbor, a relative, a personal friend)?
- Do you receive employee referrals for members of diverse groups? How many were referred by race, sex, ethnicity, disability and protected veteran status? To whom were the members of diverse groups referred? Were any of the individuals referred hired?
- Do you inform employees that the corporation is actively interested in referrals of underrepresented individuals? How are they informed? When are they informed?
- Do you provide a reward or bonus for referring a candidate that is ultimately hired?
When collecting and analyzing employee referral data, COs must remember that information on whether a person was an employee referral will not necessarily be in an applicant log. If no referrals are shown on a log, the CO needs to examine a sample of the files of people hired at the same level involved. Information on the employment application and interview notes may provide an indication of the source of the applicant or candidate. The CO may also be able to obtain relevant information through interviews of successful candidates (e.g., those hired or promoted into the job title at issue).