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SHRM board member David Windley discusses how unconscious bias can derail workplace diversity efforts.
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Two reports released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that the federal government has increased the diversity of its workforce and seen a decline in the number of equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints.
part two of the EEOC’s report on federal workforce statistics for fiscal year 2011—the latest available from the Office of Personnel Management—the federal government employed more than 2.8 million people. Of those workers, 56.19 percent were men and 43.81 percent were women. The percentage of women working in the federal government decreased from 43.97 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010, marking the second year that the number dropped after several years of growth.
The report also concluded that overall diversity in the federal workforce increased during fiscal year 2011, even as the size of the federal workforce declined slightly. Comparing fiscal year 2010 to 2011, workforce participation rates increased for employees who are Hispanic or Latino from 7.90 percent to 7.95 percent, and from 17.94 percent to 17.97 percent for black or African American workers. The participation rate for workers of Asian descent increased from 5.90 percent to 5.95, as did native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders whose participation grew from 0.36 percent of 0.38 percent. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
“While the federal government continues to be a leader in workforce diversity, further progress is needed for it to become a model workplace for all employees,” said Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. “Agencies should pay particular attention to increasing diversity among senior executives and at the highest pay-grade levels, as well as improving the recruitment and retention of people with targeted disabilities.”
In July 2010, President Barack Obama
signed an executive order with the goal of establishing the federal government as a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities. The order directed federal agencies to improve their efforts through increased recruitment, hiring and retention.
According to the EEOC report, those efforts may have led to some modest success, since the workforce participation of people with disabilities rose to 0.9 percent in 2011 after three consecutive years of declines.
In addition to enforcing federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the EEOC is charged with monitoring federal agency compliance with EEO laws and procedures. The EEOC reviews and assesses the effect of agencies’ compliance with requirements to ensure that continuing efforts are being made in the federal government to provide equal employment opportunities.
part one of the annual report for fiscal year 2012 presents statistics for EEO complaints filed by federal workers. Researchers found 15,837 complaints of alleged employment discrimination were filed, a decrease of almost 7 percent compared to 2011. Even with the drop in the number of complaints, federal agencies paid $51.4 million in compensatory damages to EEO complainants, which was an increase of 18.2 percent from the year before.
Bill Leonard is a senior writer for SHRM.
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