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Federal Hispanic Work Group Launched
 

By Kathy Gurchiek  5/28/2008
 

A federal Hispanic Work Group has been launched to examine key issues facing a group of people who are the most rapidly expanding segment of the population in the United States.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Social Security Administration have formed the work group to examine the Hispanic community’s concerns about federal-sector employment, including leadership development, hiring and retention.

At the current rate of growth, 25 percent of all Americans will be of Hispanic heritage by 2030, but according to the Latino Leadership Report to Congress from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, the total number of Hispanic new hires in the federal workforce since fiscal 2001 was 47,381, or only 9 percent of all federal hires for that period.

“The federal government must tap into the valuable resources provided by the Hispanic community, the most rapidly expanding population in America,” EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp said in a May 21, 2008, press release. “The work group will examine innovative ways to tackle the issues and obstacles confronted by this diverse community.”

The group is an outgrowth of conversations Earp began in winter 2007 with representatives of the Hispanic federal community, such as the National Counsel of Hispanic Employment Program Managers, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the National Organization for Mexican American Rights, according to the EEOC.

Among concerns raised were the low participation rates for Hispanics in federal employment, especially at the higher series levels; a lack of leadership development for Hispanic employees seeking entry into the senior executive service, and Hispanic employees leaving the federal sector for private-sector positions.

By early 2008, according to the EEOC, Earp found that the “compelling problems” that were raised in these discussions fell into three broad categories: leadership, hiring and retention.

The work group is being broken down into three subcommittees that reflect those categories, according to EEOC spokesman David Grinberg.

“Those subcommittees will be doing comprehensive examinations and evaluations, stakeholder outreach, data review,” he told SHRM Online in a voice message.

Why Now?

The marketplace and workplace have been “fundamentally altered” by the Hispanic community’s rapid growth, technological advances, and rising globalization, according to the EEOC, which pointed to the importance of striving “for diversity at all levels of government.”

The problems the Hispanic community faces have been around for decades, the EEOC noted, and “we believe that it is urgent that the underlying causes be addressed now because misperceptions and stereotypes continue to present real challenges for many Hispanic American federal employees,” according to Grinberg.

This will require that federal agencies develop “innovative strategies and solutions to keep pace and tap into the resources which the Hispanic community provides.”

Members of the new work group, chaired by Veronica Villalobos, an attorney advisor to Earp, are:

  • Milton Belardo, senior EEO manager, Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • Nancy Bosque, team leader, Cultural Diversity & External Reports Team, Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity, Social Security Administration.
  • Delia L. Johnson, director, Office of Civil Rights, Broadcasting Board of Governors.
  • Nicolas Juarez, southwest area manager, Dispute Resolution, U.S. Postal Service.
  • Isabel Kaufman, equal opportunity specialist, U.S. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • Eugenio Ochoa Sexton, director, Recruiting and Diversity, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Beatrice Pacheco, associate director, EEO programs, al Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Jesse D. Solis, chief, photo imaging branch, Randolph Air Force Base, U.S. Department of the Air Force.
  • Ramon Suris Fernandez, director, Civil Rights Center, U.S. Department of Labor.

The group will solicit feedback during the Hispanic Employment Program Managers Summit at the EEOC’s 2008 Examining Conflicts in Employment Law (EXCEL) Conference set in Chicago, according to Villalobos.

Check-in for the 11th annual conference begins Aug. 17; the conference concludes at noon Aug. 21.

The EEOC established a similar Asian American and Pacific Islander Work Group in October 2007.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at kgurchiek@shrm.org.

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