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Frequently Asked Questions Diversity and Inclusion

  • Diversity and inclusion provides organizations with at least 3 tangible benefits:      1.  Serving our communities and being socially responsible The communities we serve are diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the workforce and the public we serve are growing in the number of women, people with disabilities, people of color and immigrants each year. Currently, 54 million men, women and children have disabilities, but just over one third of working-age Americans with disabilities are employed. This number is expected to increase by ten percent a year as our population ages and the number of residents older than 65 doubles by 2050. By that same year, 54 percent of the population will be "minorities" (any race other than non-Hispanic, single-race whites), and one third will be of Hispanic ancestry. Diversity and inclusion increase an agency's capacity to serve and protect people who have different experiences or backgrounds and enhance its ability to be receptive to different traditions and ideas. Law enforcement officers present a good example of the critical need to have civil servants who look like the people and communities they serve. Indeed, we must maintain a workforce that is reflective of American society in order to provide high quality, responsive and equitable services for the public. Simply stated, it is the right thing for a democratic government to do.       2.  Increasing innovation Increased creativity is another byproduct of capitalizing on differences. Historically, some of the most creative periods in civilization have emerged when people of different backgrounds have contact and work together. The Renaissance grew in part from the meeting of peoples from the East and the West. America's energy and inventiveness have been attributed to the diversity of thought born from this nation of immigrants. Many scientific discoveries and inventions have been developed by and for people with disabilities. More recently, research has shown that effective diversity management coupled with inclusive work environments improves organizational performance and innovation. Employees from varied backgrounds bring different perspectives, ideas and solutions to the workplace that result in new products and services, challenge to the status quo, and new collaboration.       3.  Getting a return on investment Diversity and inclusion initiatives improve the quality of an agency's workforce and are the catalyst for a better return on investment in human capital. One of the biggest budget items in any agency is the amount it spends on human resources in the form of salaries, benefits, training, development and recruitment. In order to get a healthy return on investment in human capital and maximize competitive advantage, an agency must engage in recruitment and retention efforts that focus on acquiring the best and the brightest talent. We cannot secure the best and brightest talent unless we reach out broadly to all communities where such talent exists. In addition, employees of all groups expect more from organizations - from nondiscriminatory, harassment-free workplaces to flexible schedules and benefits, work-life balance, and child care and family-friendly policies. Agencies are ensuring that they have the conditions in place that facilitate diversity and cultivate inclusion in all aspects of their operations. With these facilitating conditions, the return on investment is maximized, and employees are engaged and productive. The result is faster resolution to conflict which avoids costly litigation and settlements. These environments where all employees feel included and valued are yielding greater commitment and motivation, which translates into fewer resources spent on employee turnover, grievances and complaints.
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  • This effort will focus on helping agencies recruit and retain a diverse Federal workforce drawn from all segments of our population and cultivate a culture that connects each employee to the organization; encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and leverages diversity throughout the organization so that all individuals are enabled to participate and contribute to their full potential.
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  • A commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the Federal Government as an employer and to the promotion of a merit based civil service. One of the key merit systems principles, set out in the civil service law, requires that the Federal Government's recruitment policies "endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society." A coordinated government wide initiative, as specified in Executive Order 13583, August 18, 2011, will provide all federal agencies with strategies and best practices that will enable them to accomplish this end.
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  • This EO does not affect an agency's authority to establish an independent Diversity and Inclusion function, nor does it require an agency to establish such a function. It will be up to each agency to create a structure that works for it. Our research has shown that having three separate functions - Human Resources (HR), EEO and Diversity & Inclusion - has worked very well in the private sector and in some federal agencies. Where HR, EEO and Diversity & Inclusion work together, organizations experience the best outcomes, and this is the model we recommend. When the three functions collaborate and coordinate as teams rather than competitors, they are able to yield greater returns to their organizations.
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  • The PMC is made up of high ranking administration officials, is chaired by the Deputy Director of OMB and is made up of the Chief Operating Officers (typically the Deputy Secretaries) from all executive branch agencies, as well as the OPM Director, GSA Administrator, and other high-ranking government officials. At most agencies, if not all, the Deputy Secretary is the direct link to the overall administration of the agency, is the designated Chief Operating Officer under the GPRA Modernization Act, and is therefore responsible for the agency's achievement of priority goals which include workforce planning. Giving the PMC a critical role in the development of the government-wide plan will ensure accountability at the highest level for its implementation.
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  • In November 2011, as specified in Executive Order 13583, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget-in coordination with the President's Management Council and the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-developed and published a Government-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan, which all Federal agencies will implement. Within 120 days after the Government-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan was issued, by March 16, 2012, Federal agencies are also required to develop their own diversity and inclusion strategic plans, consistent with the Government-wide plan.
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