One big problem is federal agencies do too little to enforce laws and regulations against racial bias within their own shops.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees federal workplace issues, said “one of the most significant problems is that federal agencies simply do not follow the law. Too few agencies have comprehensive diversity and inclusion plans required by Executive Order 13583, and too many agencies fail to comply with EEOC directives. In addition, the EEOC itself has suffered from long-term underfunding and understaffing over the past decade, and these problems will now be exacerbated by sequestration.”
The EEOC said its document is not “a traditional report with findings and conclusions of the EEOC.” Instead, it is meant to “memorialize the obstacles and recommendations identified by our dialogue partners,” which included organizations of black federal workers, women and others.
The impediments, according to the report, “were independently and repeatedly identified by our dialogue partners as the most formidable obstacles to equal employment opportunities for African Americans in the federal sector.”
The obstacles include individual and unconscious bias and structural impediments, which together result in a form of racism Uncle Sam would like to think he is beyond. Of the seven obstacles identified by the consulting organizations, including Blacks in Government (BIG) and the African American Federal Executives Association, it is the last one — which deals with enforcement issues — that is the most disturbing.
“This is an excellent report,” said William A. Brown, president of the executives association. “The EEOC has captured in one place perceptions, facts and suggested actions regarding major obstacles hindering equal opportunities for African Americans in the federal workforce. Rather than prescribe a particular solution, the report identifies various actions that collectively can improve opportunities. A great value to the report is that it offers a menu of actions providing managers and executives with a road map to equality.”
The seven obstacles cited in the report:
●“Unconscious biases and perceptions about African Americans still play a significant role in employment decisions in the federal sector.”
●“African Americans lack adequate mentoring and networking opportunities for higher-level and management positions.”
●“Insufficient training and development assignments perpetuate inequalities in skills and opportunities for African Americans.”
●“Narrow recruitment methods negatively impact African Americans.”
●“The perception of widespread inequality among African Americans in the federal work force hinders their career advancement.”