HOW TO DEVELOP AN INDUSTRY LIAISON GROUP (ILG)
Industry Liaison Groups (ILG) provide opportunities for U.S. Government Contractors, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to interact in a non-adversarial environment, promote and support nondiscrimination, as well as, equal access and opportunity in the U.S. workplace. ILGs also provide the Human Resources professional or Employment Law Advisory a means of expanding their knowledge and expertise in this very complicated but critical business function.
Participation in the ILG process requires a belief in nondiscrimination and equal access opportunity, and a commitment to finding mutually effective and beneficial compliance solutions.
A classic model of an ILG would include U.S. Government Contractors and Sub-Contractors (business entities providing goods and services to U.S. Government Contractors). All members should be subject to the implementing regulations at 41 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Chapter 60 (affirmative action program regulations) and appropriate Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Statutes. This provides a common reason to meet and share information on a regular basis, as well as, interact with the OFCCP and EEOC.
ILG members’ regular job responsibilities often include preparation of affirmative action plans, compliance with EEO/Affirmative Action laws, and involvement in community outreach programs. Most successful ILGs are organized to support the implementation of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs in business enterprises.
To be recognized as a viable ILG by the National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) Board, each ILG must have a leadership function. This function could be a chairperson with elected officers, or a steering group who is accountable for meeting logistics, organization, and facilitation. Regardless of the leadership model chosen, an ILG must be sustained by the membership. There must be a shared commitment and understanding success is only possible when everyone participates.
An ILG can have a very informal structure, much like a “self-directed” work group, or a more formal process with elected officers and established rules of operation or bylaws. It is also recommended members agree on how meetings will be managed so everyone can participate and the agenda can be accomplished in a timely and efficient manner.
ILG membership can be eclectic or homogenous. The most beneficial and professionally enlightening are groups with a cross-section of area business entities. The membership could include: financial institutions, manufacturing, education, healthcare, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations. Group size is impacted by an ILG’s purposes, intent, and meeting activities. An ILG should plan to meet at least every six (6) months to be effective, but no more than once per quarter.
Partnerships: OFCCP and EEOC
A sustainable and successful ILG should include the involvement of the District and Regional office management of the OFCCP and EEOC. The ILG process was initiated by the OFCCP in the early 1980s to foster “cooperative compliance” with new enforcement regulations for government contractors. The EEOC eventually became an additional government partner in this process. Agency representatives should be invited and included in ILG meetings.
A well-defined agenda sets the stage for your members. Appropriate advance notice of the meeting should be provided in order for your members to schedule time away from the office. The agenda for the meeting must include the location, time (start and finish), and objectives of the meeting. ILGs should have rules regarding business solicitations unless invited for the purpose of meeting sponsorship.
Some ILGs are informal and do not require dues, bylaws or officers, while others are more formal. Successful ILGs tailor their procedures to serve the needs of their specific members.
A meeting environment should be created to encourage participation. Everyone should be given a chance to speak and feel included. Others may learn from interactive discussions.
- Contact the Head of Human Resources or EEO Officer for local or regional area companies who may be U.S. Government contractors in your area. The local OFCCP office may be able to supply you with leads, too.
- Invite identified company representatives for a meeting to assess interest, determine structure, and meeting logistics.
- Elect a Leader, select a Steering Committee, or do both.
- Determine meeting venues, frequency, and funding.
- Discuss key compliance issues or areas of concern (identifies commonalities among potential members).
- Determine who may be the appropriate NILG Board members and invite them to the next meeting.
- Initially, newly formed ILGs should meet frequently (quarterly) to foster group cohesion.
- Encourage all interested company representatives to invite a colleague from another company who would benefit from an ILG.
- Schedule the next meeting.
Guidance and Support
Each region of the OFCCP structure has four (4) representatives on the NILG Board. You can reach out to these Board Members to assist you and your group in establishing a successful ILG. To identify your region’s representatives, visit the NILG website under Regional ILGs where you will also find other ILGs in your region. Reach out to established ILGs to ask for guidance, look at bylaws, meeting content, etc. NILG bylaws are available on their website, too, which may also be used for reference purposes.
Best wishes on the successful implementation of your ILG! We look forward to hearing from you!