Special Employment Project
As a complement to its compliance responsibilities, the commission presently is conducting an affirmative action employment project, with funds in the amount of $16,150 from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.). The one-year project (which began on September 1, 1968) is designed to eliminate job discrimination through a concentrated statewide effort to examine the total employment practices of major companies which employ few or no persons belonging to minority groups. A total of twenty-six "priority" companies and twenty-four "alternate" companies have been selected for review.
With the aid of technical data from the E.E.O.C., the commission has selected for examination those establishments whose patterns of utilization of minority people indicated that they may be engaging in unfair employment practices. These establishments were selected on the basis of the following criteria: size; minority under-utilization; growth potential; turn-over rate; outside pressures (such as government contract compliance programs, concern with public image, and production of consumer goods); availability of transportation to the establishment; location near minority population; and wage level.
Further backup information is being obtained about these establishments to determine whether a complaint should be filed under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The complaint would effectively initiate a detailed systematic investigation to determine whether the under- utilization of minority people by these establishments is the result of illegal discrimination which may be of two types: intentional, by a conscious effort to employ only whites; or unintentional, by use of obsolete methods of recruitment that operate to produce a racially- imbalanced workforce. It is the goal of the project to see that all people have equal employment opportunities by eliminating discrimination of both types. A total of seven complaints had been filed by the commission by November 30, 1968.
The project is remedial in nature, being designed to attempt both to correct the consequences of many years of discrimination and to put an end to employment practices producing such results. It is anticipated that the business community may not wholly accept the idea of change in this area; partially because it does not realize the great dollars-and-cents potential lying dormant in the state's minority manpower, and because change itself is oftentimes uncomfortable and unsettling.
It is estimated, however, that there will be a marked increase in the number of non-whites added to the workforce in the next few years. In view of the fact that the unemployment differential is almost uniformly two to three times as high for non-whites as for whites, the need for eliminating discrimination intensifies. Apart from sociological or legal considerations, it makes good economic sense to open up jobs for our expanding minority population rather than adding to the number of those receiving welfare or unemployment compensation. Since manpower needs are expected to increase by as much as one fourth between 1964 and 1975, an unparalleled opportunity is created for employers to tap the work resource of minority people and thus to keep pace with changing societal conditions directly affecting business.
The aim of the project is not only to see that establishments comply with the Iowa Civil Rights Act for this year, but to set up a feedback system between the establishments and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. This will ensure continued compliance with Iowa law and provide review of the effectiveness of any procedures set up as part of an affirmative action program by the establishment through agreement with the commission. It is the long-range implementation of fair employment practices through positive measures that will make the project of truly lasting benefit to minorities and to society as a whole.