The Federal Coach

There is good news for women in the federal workplace, according to two new reports released last week. These reports show that the federal government has made significant strides during the past two decades to enhance the roles and responsibilities of women in its workforce.

A report from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) found women now comprise about 30 percent of positions in the Senior Executive Service, up 19 percent since 1990. The MSPB report also points out that women still remain less likely than men to be employed in high-paying occupations and supervisory positions. So while we have one sign of important progress for women, much remains to be done.

The second report was an analysis of federal employee survey data by my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and Deloitte, which together examined how all federal employees view leadership. The survey data reveals that women feel less personal empowerment with respect to work processes than men, and are less satisfied with their personal involvement in decisions that affect their work. Moreover, women are much more concerned than men about disclosing a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal.

As a federal manager, it’s essential that you create a positive climate that allows all of your employees – both men and women – to be engaged and productive, have a sense of accomplishment and have equal opportunities to move up the career ladder and join the management ranks. This means you need to be aware of existing problems and be willing to proactively deal with the concerns.

To find out how women employees in your agency feel about empowerment and fairness, a good place to start is by examining the data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the Partnership’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. Based on this data, you can begin to determine if there is a problem within your agency.

Once you know if there is a problem or not, you can start by engaging your employees in focus groups, individual interviews and discussions to find out if female employees on your team feel that they are not being heard, do not have sufficient control over their work process or feel they are not being treated fairly.

Federal managers, I would be interested in hearing about women who are leaders in your agency and any special opportunities that you make available to help break your agency’s glass ceiling. Please share your stories and post your ideas below, or email me at .

And check back on Wednesday, when I speak with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. You can also receive a reminder by following us on Twitter @RPublicService.

More from On Leadership:

USGS’s Marcia McNutt on agency leadership

Are you listening to me, boss?

Woes of the recently promoted

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