By Dan Gephart, March 13, 2023
If you were a private sector employer in certain parts of the country, you might hesitate before offering diversity and inclusion training to your staff. Take, for example, Valencia College in Central Florida, whose president told faculty that an upcoming voluntary diversity training was being postponed until they could ensure that it didn’t violate the state’s new “Stop WOKE Act.”
But that’s Florida. And you, FELTG Nation (or most of you), work for the Federal government. While there are still numerous barriers that need to be eradicated to develop a Federal workforce that reflects the country it serves, there are no barriers to stop you from offering diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) training.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The current Administration reinforced its commitment to DEIA training recently when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released the recent report Government-wide DEIA: Our Progress and Path Forward to Building a Better Workforce for the American People.
If you’re looking to the report for actual statistics or tangible results showing the impact of President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, you’ll have to wait a little longer. This OPM report focuses on the steps the Federal government has taken to align itself with that EO.
“In order to recruit and sustain the best talent, we must ensure every service-minded individual feels welcome and supported in contributing their talents to the Federal workforce,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja wrote in a press release. “This inaugural report highlights progress made to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the workplace, and we look forward to continuing the work to break down barriers to serve and help build a Federal government that draws from the strength and diversity of its people.”
The top accomplishment listed is the report was the establishment of the Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council, which includes stakeholders from OPM, EEOC, and OMB along with agency DEIA leaders. Per OPM, the council will:
- Collaborate on broad strategic and operational matters, projects or programs across the Federal government related to DEIA.
- Collaborate with member agencies and public and private stakeholders, as appropriate, on DEIA policies and programs in the Federal government and across other employment sectors.
- Assist with setting clear strategies, benchmarks, and metrics for DEIA standards of excellence and accountability to be employed across the Federal government.
- Support and advise member agencies on their DEIA strategic plans.
- Promote the DEIA priorities outlined in EO 14035, and incorporate the following operating principles.
- Accountability and sustainability
- Use of data and evidence-based decision-making
- Continuous improvement and learning
- Broad engagement with diverse stakeholders and partners
Other accomplishments listed included the development of two national programs – the Employee Resource Group Summit and the national DEIA Summit 2022, creation of a DEIA Learning Community to share best practices, and the creation of a new DEIA index that was used for the first time in the 2022 FEVS report. The DEIA Index revealed that 69 percent of respondents report positive perceptions of agency practices related to DEIA. We’ll see what that number looks like in the 2023 FEVS report and get an idea of the impact of DEIA training.
The report also details the DEIA Executive Order priorities that you should be thinking about in your organization. This list should give you an idea of where you currently stand in your efforts.
- Create a framework to address workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. This means promoting training, education, prevention programs, and monitoring to create a culture that does not tolerate workplace harassment.
- Establish or elevate Chief Diversity Officers or Diversity and Inclusion Officers within agencies.
- Improve the collection of voluntarily self-reported demographic data about Federal employees to take an evidence-based approach to reducing potential barriers in hiring, promotion, professional development, and retention practices.
- Remove barriers for low-income and first-generation professionals, including reducing reliance on unpaid internships and expanding paid internship opportunities.
- Establish new recruitment partnerships to build a more diverse pipeline into public service and facilitate recruitment, including the recruitment of individuals from underserved communities.
- Advance equity and transparency in professional development opportunities.
- Serve as a model employer for disabled employees by charging key agencies with coordinating across the Federal government to develop processes to increase accessibility and reduce barriers to employment.
- Advance equity for LGBTQI+ employees by striving to ensure that the Federal Health Benefits System equitably serves all LGBTQI+ employees and their families.
- Advance pay equity.
- Expanding employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.
- And, of course, expand the availability of DEIA training so that Federal employees are supported and have the tools to promote respectful and inclusive workplaces.
On that last point, FELTG can help. We are regularly adding DEIA training to our open enrollment offerings. Next up is Nondiscriminatory Hiring in the Federal Workplace: Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility on April 5 from 1-4:30. If you’d like to bring FELTG’s DEIA training directly to your agency, email me at Gephart@FELTG.com