The Washington Post

Report shows federal employment diversity flat

Racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the federal workforce remained essentially flat from fiscal 2010 to 2011, according to data the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) planned to release Monday.

The percentage of women in the workforce dropped slightly, while percentages for African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders rose almost imperceptibly. The increases were less than one-tenth of a percentage point.

Co-workers at the FAA, from left, Dan Chong, Yvonne Byrd and Mara Jenkins, enjoy lunch outside their building in October 2013.
(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Women made up 43.81 percent of the workforce in 2011, down from 43.97 percent the year before, “after a slow but steady increase,” according to the EEOC.

For racial and ethnic groups, the changes were:

  • African American, 17.94 percent to 17.97 percent
  • Latino, 7.90 percent to 7.95 percent
  • Asian, 5.90 percent  to 5.95 percent
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 0.36 percent  to 0.38 percent.

The statistics show that, in some cases, the federal workforce is less diverse than the population in general.

Latino men and women and white women “remained below their overall availability in the national civilian labor force, as reported in the 2000 census,” the EEOC reported.

Despite a small increase in the year-to-year rate for people with disabilities, the longer view shows their employment rate declining. From 2002 through 2011, the rate dropped to 0.90 percent, from 1.07 percent.

Employment of people with disabilities “fell far short of the 2.00% goal,” the EEOC said.

According to Equal Employment Opportunity Management Directive 715 (MD-715), issued in 2003, “Agency heads must issue a written policy statement expressing their commitment to EEO and a workplace free of discriminatory harassment.  This statement should be issued at the beginning of their tenure and thereafter on an annual basis and disseminated to all employees.”

Yet, only 56.4 percent of the agencies issued the written policy statement in 2011, a big drop from the 85.4 percent in 2010.

The directive says, “Commitment to equal employment opportunity must be embraced by agency leadership and communicated through the ranks from the top down.”

This raises the question: What does the low percentage of agencies issuing the policy statement in 2011 say about their commitment to equal employment opportunity?


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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