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Building deeper ties with our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU) and bolstering employee training were the key themes of events that the Office of Personnel Management’s Blacks In Government (BIG) chapter and the agency’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) sponsored during African American History Month.
BIG and ODI partnered to host a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) forum that brought together representatives from Claflin University, Bowie State University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T, University of the District of Columbia, the Association of Public & Land Grant University, and Prince George’s Community College. They were joined by representatives of Federal agencies and the business community.
The purpose of the HBCU forum was to have a robust discussion and to establish and sustain relationships with colleges and universities, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders in order to create a pipeline of talented students and alumni that will result in:
High school and college students knowing about and attending institutions of higher learning whose curriculum will prepare them to apply for the mission critical occupations offered by the Federal government;
College students nearing graduation looking to the Federal Government and government contractors as career destinations.
Federal agencies and the business community being more familiar and better understanding the mission of HBCUs, and be better prepared to recruit from these institutions.
Creating an environment for young college graduates and alumni who become Federal employees to have opportunities for professional growth and move into leadership positions;
Fostering genuine dialogue between the universities, the Federal Government, and other stakeholders to improve the kind of collaboration and engagement that will enhance the Federal Government’s continued efforts towards diversity and inclusion at all levels of Federal service.
OPM’s Acting Director Beth Cobert said at the forum that “the contributions that graduates from historically black colleges make to the Federal workforce across the country are extremely important. OPM is proud of the relationships we have built with many of you in this room.” She also pointed out that HBCU’s are some of the biggest producers of black undergraduate degrees in STEM fields, an area where many Federal agencies are in need of talented and motivated employees.
Director Cobert also challenged the attendees to take the opportunity to discuss and collaborate on ways OPM could work with the universities to enhance diversity and inclusion within the Federal and private sector.
Also during African American History Month, representatives from Howard University provided executive leadership training to OPM BIG members and other agency employees.
The “Leadership in Action Seminar” covered leadership and executive communications, principles in group and cross cultural communications, decision-making, and team building. The training was conducted by Dr. Kim Wells, Executive Director of Executive Education at Howard University’s School of Business and Retired Air Force General Frank Anderson.
The interactive training discussed how easy it is to fall into making hiring and promotion decisions based on conscious or unconscious biases that can impact an organization or company having a diverse and inclusive employment culture.
The events BIG organized during this year’s African American History Month are just the beginning. We will continue to promote collaboration and partnerships with representatives from our nation’s HBCUs, all with the goal of continuing to create a diverse and inclusive environment in the Federal workplace.
At the Office of Personnel Management, every day we work to support the President’s Management Agenda’s goal to recruit, hire, and retain a world-class workforce. We develop human resources policies for everything from benefits to employee engagement to performance management to diversity and inclusion. And we believe strongly that the policy decisions we make must be grounded in research.
Connecting research to policy is so important to us that it’s a goal in OPM’s Strategic Plan. This week, OPM partnered with American University to host its first research summit. We brought together researchers and policy experts from 20 Federal agencies, 19 colleges and universities, and partners from industry and the non-profit sector. We focused on six specific human capital policy areas: work/life issues; benefits; performance management; diversity and inclusion; leadership; and employee engagement.
Our goal was to determine the current state of research in each of these areas.
At this summit, we wanted to determine where there are gaps in the research we need to make the best informed decisions about human resources policies for Federal employees. We looked at the challenges to closing those research gaps and what research we need to best inform our policy decisions over the next several years.
This summit will lead to enhanced collaborations. OPM already works with researchers around the country as they look at human resources issues in depth. We provide researchers will access to selected OPM data. For example, by accessing the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data, which contains insights on employee engagement, productivity, innovation, and other employee concerns, researchers have written at least 60 academic papers in recent years.
We must plan and make policy for the Federal workforce of the future. The way we all work is constantly changing. Employees are teleworking more. Workspaces are becoming more open and collaborative. We are asking employees to be more innovative and to think out of the box.
By making sure that our human resources policies are informed by the most rigorous and up-to-date research, OPM can better design more effective human resources policies and help the Federal Government move to the forefront as an employer of choice.
The ultimate goal of this summit and of the work of OPM’s Office of Planning and Policy Analysis is to use these collaborations to help us establish a research agenda for Federal human resources management that will shape human capital policy for years to come.
Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off this week, with the theme, Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity. As a workforce, we are better when we draw from all segments of society. Hispanics are an integral part of America’s culture and heritage, and this year’s theme encourages us to explore and celebrate that legacy.
A diverse Federal workforce helps us better serve all Americans. That is why I am proud of OPM’s leadership on the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment, which met earlier this summer and will meet again at the end of this month. The Council and OPM have worked together to develop strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Its members have advised OPM on approaches that avoid unnecessary barriers to Federal employment, both at the entry level and at the executive level. The members of the Council were also instrumental in helping OPM develop its REDI Roadmap by sharing their knowledge of diverse communities and Hispanic millennials. And many of the organizations that sit on the Council have provided leadership training to Federal employees to help the government develop a pipeline of talent.
In my time on the Council, I plan to continue this great work. There is more to be done, but we have made progress that we can build on. Representation of Hispanic Americans in the Federal Government has consistently gone up over the past several years, and it’s also increasing in the Senior Executive Service. At OPM, we intend to continue our recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts and to bolster an inclusive work environment.
Here at OPM, we’ll be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with several workforce events, and agencies across the government will be doing the same. I encourage every Federal employee to take the time to participate and continue our shared commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce.
I am excited today to release an insightful report on Women in Federal Service, which draws on OPM’s deep reservoir of data to shine a light on opportunities for women in Federal service. One of my top priorities as Director of OPM is to make sure women have a seat at every decision table. This report not only illustrates our significant progress toward that goal, but also points to what we still need to accomplish.
For me, the first step in any challenge is to take a look at the data. We looked at how women are doing in the Federal workforce from the perspectives of work-life flexibilities, opportunities to move into leadership, and pay equity.
The data revealed some positive and gratifying trend lines. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles compared to their counterparts a decade ago. Today, they make up 34.4 percent of senior executives in the Federal Government, compared to estimates of 14.6 percent in the private sector. Younger women are doing especially well. Women entering the workforce now are more likely to be on a management track than they were a decade ago. And while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, the data shows a lingering gender gap within our Senior Executive Service. Clearly, we have work to do.
We’ve also made great progress closing the pay gap between women and men, especially in leadership positions. Within the Senior Executive Service, the pay gap is nearly non-existent. As of 2012, women made 99.2 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap has also closed dramatically among women in the 25-to-34 age bracket, showing that younger women are more likely to be paid similarly to their male counterparts. We’re thrilled to see so much progress.
We also know that work-life flexibilities are crucial for women – and men. They want the ability to manage their personal lives outside of work, whether that means helping to take care of children or older parents. Among women who take advantage of workplace flexibility programs, more than three-quarters are satisfied with those opportunities.
This report is just the start. I’m committed to making sure opportunities for women in government continue to grow. Last month, I unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion and provides a data-driven strategy for helping agencies reach one of President Obama’s major workforce goals: a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce at every level of government.
We want to make sure that women are fully represented at every level of government to create a stronger Federal service.
My passion for building a Federal workforce that looks like the America we serve is not just about numbers. It is about the American people benefiting from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in this great country. We need that diversity at every level and at every decision table.
In August 2011, the President issued an executive order that called for a government-wide coordinated effort to promote diversity and inclusion within the Federal workforce. The President’s Management Agenda builds on that commitment.
At the Office of Personnel Management, we work every day to help agencies build a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people. We know we must work equally hard to be sure that once hired, employees feel included and engaged at all levels of government. Although we know there’s still much work to do, the data shows us that we are making progress on the President’s vision.
For example, four years ago, the President set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than half way toward reaching that milestone. In fact, OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the Federal Government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years.
Our data also shows a steady increase in making our Senior Executive Service more diverse. For example, in 2009, women represented just 31 percent of the SES. Today, they make up 34 percent of these senior leadership positions. We’re also making progress in improving representation along all racial and ethnic lines.
OPM is expanding the data we collect through the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to capture information from employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. As more LGBT employees self-identify through this powerful tool, agencies will be better equipped to support this important part of our Federal family.
OPM is providing agencies with the tools, strategies, and guidance to help them continue this progress. This week, OPM unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is designed to make sure that across government, we are using the latest data-driven expertise, digital tools, and collaborative thinking to continue to build, develop, and engage a talented and diverse workforce, now and for years to come.
REDI reflects OPM’s commitment to the President’s vision of ensuring that all segments of society are represented and feel included at every level of America's workforce. You can learn more about the new REDI Roadmap at www.opm.gov/REDI.
This post was originally featured on the White House Blog.
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