In June 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order urging the federal government to serve as “a model for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.”
Biden’s directive emphasized the public sector’s role in the advancement of equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity, stressing the need for the federal government to cultivate a workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people.
A new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds the country’s largest employer making incremental progress on this front over the last decade or so.
“For years, federal leaders have highlighted the importance of fostering an inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity of the United States,” a GAO document highlighting the study’s findings noted, adding that federal agencies operate equal employment opportunity programs “to help ensure a fair workplace and proactively prevent employment discrimination.”
In its new analysis, GAO describes changes to federal workforce demographics between the fiscal years 2011 and 2021, in terms of race, ethnicity, age, gender and disability. To accomplish this objective, GAO assessed federal workforce data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Enterprise Human Resources integration database for that time period, according to GAO.
GAO used this data—the most recent available at the time of the analysis—to identify the racial and ethnic composition of the federal workforce over the time period studied, and relying on demographic data from the Census Bureau to draw comparisons with the broader national civil labor force, according to GAO.
Overall, the report found “minor changes” in the federal workforce representation of historically disadvantaged racial groups—Blacks or African Americans, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska natives, or persons of one or more than once race. Several of these groups made gains in senior executive service positions, according to GAO.
For example, the percentage of Hispanic employees in the federal workforce increased by 1.4% from FY 2011 to 2021. In FY 2021, however, federal representation of Hispanic employees was less than the civilian labor force.
The proportion of women in the federal workforce remained relatively stable during this time period, sitting at roughly 45% throughout the 10-year span. As was the case with Hispanic workers, however, women’s representation in the federal workforce was still less than that of the civilian labor force from fiscal years 2011 to 2021.
Men and women in historically disadvantaged racial groups and White women “made positive gains” in senior executive positions, according to GAO, which also found that historically disadvantaged groups were generally hired, promoted and separated at higher rates in fiscal year 2021 than in fiscal year 2011.
The representation of persons with disabilities in the federal government workforce doubled in that timeframe, topping 20%, and was about three times that of the representation of the FY 2021 civilian labor force.
GAO provided a draft of the report to OPM as well as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for review and comment, noting that OPM provided no input, while EEOC provided technical comments that GAO “incorporated where appropriate.” GAO is also sending copies of the report, which is available at no charge via the GAO website, to the appropriate congressional committees, the directors of EEOC and OPM, and other interested parties.
04 December 2023
HR News Article