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Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a great way to really learn what they do every day, and how we can make their lives better. This week, I joined the President’s “Day in the Life” effort. Throughout the summer, senior administrators are traveling the country speaking with -- and learning from -- the people we work for every day.
While in Los Angeles this past week, I had such fun spending time with two extraordinary individuals – Matthew Gonzales, a Federal employee at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and Megan Rodriguez, an Air Force veteran who works for the state of California as an employment assistant helping other veterans find jobs. Both are young Latinos driven by a passion for public service.
Matthew entered the Federal government as a Pathways intern, a program that brings the best young talent into government and sets them on the path to a Federal career. Matthew is now a civilian program manager at the space and missile center. He also co-led the first chapter of Young Government Leaders in Los Angeles.
Matthew shared something that really made an impression on me. At his job, there is always a lot going on and he is experiencing and doing many things for the first time. But, he said, with pride, while he is not always expected to know everything right away, he is always expected to learn. Matthew knows he has the support and tools that he needs to keep growing, and that is part of the reason why he believes the Federal government is a great place to start his career. That spirit of service is exactly what our nation needs. And I know that Matthew is one of hundreds of thousands of Federal employees with that same enthusiasm.
Megan has a passion for helping fellow veterans find jobs. While attending Mount St. Mary’s College, she founded its Veterans Outreach Association and she has continued that work now that she has graduated. We discussed our shared passion for helping women veterans get Federal jobs, especially STEM jobs. She would be a great fit in the Federal government.
In Matthew and Megan, I saw so many positive qualities: passion, dedication, an overwhelming desire to help people, a call to service, and a truly hopeful vision of the future. These young professionals remind me what it was like to once walk in shoes similar to theirs. I know there are obstacles they face each day, but their commitment to public service makes me confident we will continue to have a diverse, talented, caring, and devoted Federal workforce. Their insights helped me understand firsthand what young Latinos are thinking and what we need to do to attract them to Federal service.
I was glad to be able to tell them that we are already working hard to increase the number of Federal employees from underrepresented communities and to support and develop them in their careers. They share my commitment that we have a workforce that truly represents the bright mosaic of the American family.
So really, we learned a lot from each other. If we take the time to stop, listen, and just for a moment, put ourselves in another’s shoes, we’ll keep learning. And that makes all the difference.
This Saturday, July 26, marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a day for us to celebrate the tremendous contributions of people with disabilities to our country. From classrooms in Sacramento to buses in Denver to sidewalks here in the District of Columbia, this landmark legislation makes sure that Americans with disabilities are guaranteed full access and the same opportunities promised to all Americans.
On July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, to mark the historic 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. His order says that the Federal government, as the nation's largest employer, must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities.
We have made great progress toward fulfilling the President’s vision. There are more people with disabilities in Federal service than at any time in the past 33 years. The talents, the experiences and the expertise of employees with disabilities are an indispensable part of the Federal workforce. At all levels and in every profession, the contributions of people with disabilities enrich the Federal government. Our nation is absolutely stronger because of their dedication and service.
Yet our work is not done. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities. We must continue our efforts to hire and retain employees with disabilities at all levels of government -- from resume through retirement -- so that we have the strongest workforce possible.
To support Federal employees in this effort, OPM, in consultation with partner agencies, has launched an online course entitled, “A Roadmap to Success: Hiring, Retaining and Including People with Disabilities.” The course, which will be available to agencies at no cost on HR University, provides basic information and resources to help employees and managers hire, retain and advance Federal workers with disabilities. In accordance with the Executive Order, this training will be required for human resources personnel and hiring managers.
Today, let all of us recommit to building an inclusive, vibrant and powerful workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve.
HR University has a new look. OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council just unveiled a refurbished HRU website that is designed to better serve human resources professionals and the Federal workforce. As a result of the hard work of our great teams here at OPM and on the CHCO Council -- and with the help of feedback we’ve gotten from HRU students -- HRU.gov is now more accessible and easier to navigate. We hope the impressive new features help you with your training needs. On the new HRU.gov you will find:
The CHCO Council launched HRU in 2011 to address the growing need to train and develop the 21st Century Federal workforce. Since its launch, it has taken off and now offers 130 courses as well as many tools and resources to more than 50,000 registered users across government. Through its innovative method of leveraging existing resources throughout government, HRU has helped train thousands of employees and saved the government more than $100 million.
I invite you to learn more about HRU and what it has to offer during a live Twitter chat on July 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT. CHCO Council Executive Director Justin Johnson will be ready to answer your questions using hashtag #NewHRU. I hope you can join him. But even if you can’t participate in the chat, you might want to check out HRU.gov. Let us know what you think. We hope you find it to be a useful and accessible portal to get the training you need.
OPM has released a new data tool to the agencies called UnlockTalent.gov. I am excited about this powerful new interactive dashboard because I think it will help Federal leaders foster a culture of excellence and high performance at each and every agency.
With UnlockTalent.gov, agency leaders can take advantage of the valuable information from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and other HR resources, including Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) data. It will help them better understand the data and it will give them the extra support they need to create the most effective engagement programs for their employees.
The dashboard is exciting for another reason. It is one of the many ways we are working to meet the President’s Second Term Management Agenda goal of creating a culture of excellence and engagement, leading to higher performance.
There are some great features available as a part of the dashboard that makes it particularly helpful and unique. It is customized to each individual agency’s data with personalized pages. And when users sign in, they have access to five separate tabs: Agency Overview, HR Core Metrics, Employee Engagement, Global Satisfaction, and Community of Practice. Each tab offers a different type of data analysis or set of resources. The Community of Practice serves as a hub for agencies to explore best practices from the Federal Government and elsewhere. The combination of data and resources is a powerful way for agency leaders to be able to think about their engagement programs and office cultures.
We didn’t create this tool alone. OPM teamed up with 14 Federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget so that the dashboard would be designed based on real input from potential users. We’ll also continue to improve it by gathering user feedback and applying it to updates that will add information and features in the coming months.
I am very proud of the team here at OPM and our government partners for this great product. It is proof of what innovation and teamwork can create and it’s happening all across government. I look forward to hearing from agency leaders about how UnlockTalent.gov is helping them bolster their efforts to engage our talented Federal workforce.
As the first Latina Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one of my highest priorities is to recruit a diverse Federal workforce. As part of that effort, last week I attended the League of United Latin American Citizens’ annual conference. LULAC is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. For 85 years, it has fought for civil rights, education rights, legal rights, housing rights, and employment rights.
LULAC shares OPM’s goal of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. We both know how important it is to have a government that looks like and truly represents the people we serve. Americans benefit from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in our country.
We do a lot of great work with organizations like LULAC. Along with other Federal agencies, OPM is a partner in its Federal Training Institute, which helps to train and mentor the next generation of Latino leaders.
As part of the President’s Management Agenda, OPM is placing a renewed emphasis on leadership pipelines. We want to ensure that all groups, including Latinos, are fully represented in the workplace. We are working on an onboarding program to make sure that new Senior Executive Service members have the support and coaching they need, not only when they first begin their assignment, but throughout their tenure. And we are focusing on mentoring. Connecting with leaders in our own communities can give us the help and direction we need. We all need mentors and should strive to be mentors to others.
The National Council of La Raza is another leader in the Latino community, and I look forward to speaking at their annual conference in Los Angeles next week. While I’m there, I will also meet with Latino students at several colleges, sharing with them what the Federal government’s employment needs are and asking what would entice them to consider a career in Federal service.
When I visit with these organizations and their members, I get the chance to do something I can’t do anywhere else: Hear firsthand the perspectives I need to make our strategies the best they can possibly be. My commitment to a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce is unshakable. Together, we can make sure Latinos are represented at every level of Federal service, especially at every decision-making table.
We all love to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is, after all, the birthday of our country. We grill, watch fireworks, and spend quality time with family and friends – what isn’t there to love?
But as we celebrate the holiday and the gift of independence that our Founding Fathers gave us, I want to reflect for a moment on the gifts Americans have given us throughout history and continue to gift us every day.
Every generation, individuals have risen to the challenge to make real and meaningful contributions to society, from our revolutionary ancestors to modern space pioneers. They were at the forefront of the sciences, arts, and literature. They challenged the status quo. They fought for a more equitable world.
At 25, Booker T. Washington became the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute.
At 32, Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers association, predecessor to the United Farm Workers.
At 25, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
Our history is filled with Americans rising to meet our nation’s challenges. And as Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I’m fortunate enough to see such incredible contributions being made throughout our Federal workforce.
These contributions are not limited to revolutionary eras or times of great hardship. They are not limited to age or ethnicity or gender or orientation. They are what we’ve come to expect throughout history. And they are what we get from our Federal employees as they work hard every day to serve the American people. Our Federal family continues to strive to fulfill our Founding Father’s vision and to set the bar for the next generation. They do it with the giving spirit that will motivate generations to come.
I know I will personally take time this weekend to honor the gifts of not only the great Americans who founded this nation, but also of those who continue to make our nation better today. I hope you will do the same.
Happy Independence Day.
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