The Washington Post

Summit examines diversity in federal workplace


The National Coalition for Equity in Public Service will hold a federal diversity summit next month.

The purpose, according to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, is to “address critical issues and opportunities relating to diversity practices within the federal government.”

In a Feb. 27 memo to government chief human capital officers, Berry said the “overall content of this conference is vital to improving diversity within the federal government.”

Participants at the conference might want to keep in mind data recently released by the Partnership for Public Service.

The Partnership, which has a content sharing relationship with The Washington Post, looked at data from the 2011 Federal Viewpoint Survey to get an idea of how men and women perceive their federal workplaces and to explore differences in the way workers from different ethnic and racial groups experience the federal workplace.

The report on “Gender Gaps and Racial/Ethnic Divides” is a deeper dive into the Partnership’s “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” survey.

One of the first points to note regarding diversity is the under-representation of Latinos in the federal workforce. They “represent only 8 percent of federal employees and 13.6 percent of the civilian sector,” according to data cited in the Partnership’s report.

There is a higher percentage of African Americans employed in the federal government than in the private sector. Both African Americans and Latinos are notably underrepresented in the Senior Executive Service, as are women.

The analysis shows Asian employees registered the highest on the Best Places to Work index. White workers were the most satisfied with pay. Among men and women, women were less satisfied and felt less empowered.

“They also were less satisfied than men about their involvement in decisions about their work, and they were more likely than men to believe that arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes would be tolerated,” according to the report.

The report concludes by saying “agencies must closely examine their current work environments and policies to determine whether they have conditions conducive to providing equal opportunity, fairness and empowerment for men and women alike, and for employees from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

Sounds like a good place for the diversity summit to start.

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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