It’s certainly no secret that the government’s Senior Executive Service has a diversity problem. The problem has been repeatedly documented with statistics that show SES doesn’t begin to reflect the racial and gender diversity of the nation it serves.
The good news is President Obama recently signed an executive order “to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce.” The bad news is projections indicate that by 2030 Latinos will remain “vastly underrepresented” in the SES, according to a report scheduled for release Thursday by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank.
What sets the CAP report apart from many others is its projections. The report also makes a strong case for diversity and includes recommendations on how to achieve it. Using a “dynamic model” based on federal government data, CAP projects what the SES will look like decades into the future.
The view is mixed.
Almost two decades from now, Hispanics will compose 6.8 percent of the SES, a little better than the current level of about 4 percent. Compare those figures with the 23 percent of the workforce that Latinos will be in 2030, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the report.
Twenty years beyond that, Latinos will still lag far behind.
“Even by 2050 it is extremely unlikely that the nation’s most senior federal career staff will reflect the Hispanic share of the labor force,” says the report by Jitinder Kohli, John Gans and James Hairston. “By then, 30 percent of the labor force is likely to be Hispanic, but we estimate that between 9.5 percent and 12.5 percent of the Senior Executive Service will be Hispanic.”
Jorge E. Ponce, co-chairman of the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives, said increasing diversity in the government’s senior ranks “is not just a moral necessity . . . it’s an economic necessity to survive in a global marketplace. . . . Until the diversity of the SES ranks in the Federal Government reflects the tapestry of its population, it will waste the homegrown talent that can offer solutions to its greatest challenges.”
Women also will be underrepresented in 2030, although not as badly as they are today. They will occupy 41 percent of SES positions, according to CAP, up from the 31.2 percent of the senior pay level jobs they now hold.
At 14.8 percent, African Americans in the SES will have caught up to their percentages in the civilian workforce, the authors of the report predict.
William A. Brown Sr., president of the African American Federal Executive Association, said he was disappointed by the report, in part because it “failed to take into consideration the fact that majorities do not yield power willingly. Change will only come about in the SES Corps when the selection process is altered so that minorities and women are equally represented on the selection panels,” which rate and rank SES candidates.
The report makes clear “there is an urgent need for action to address the diversity gap in the Senior Executive Service. Improving diversity will lead not just to a more representative senior civil service but a better government.”
The authors provided a prescription for the strategic plan on workforce diversity that Obama’s executive order called for. They said the plan should set an objective to close the diversity gap by 2030 along with four-year milestones; create a “special initiative” to increase Latinos in the SES; establish a subcommittee in the President’s Management Council to oversee diversity; and study the reasons for the diversity gap.
All this is important because white people will be a minority in a United States with no clear racial or ethnic majority in 2050.
“But what about the federal government?” the authors ask. “As the nation becomes more diverse, will the government reflect the diverse society it serves?”
Federal employees are a generous bunch.
They donated 5.8 million pounds of nonperishable food items for the Feds Feed Families 2011 drive. The food was collected nationwide during the three months ended Aug. 31 and was distributed to food banks around the country.
“This year’s goal was 2 million pounds, and federal employees opened up their hearts to deliver an astounding record level of food items and other essentials,” said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management.
On Thursday, OPM will release details of the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey of federal employees. A spokesperson said the survey indicates that 96 percent of employees are willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done and 91 percent look for ways to do their jobs better.
The survey probably revealed some less glowing information too, but OPM didn’t release those tidbits. We’ll have to wait until we see the entire report.