Beneath the Surface of Workforce Diversity

CEB has done a fair bit of work on the topic of workforce diversity in recent years, including a seminal study released in 2012 titled “Creating Competitive Advantage Through Workforce Diversity” (CLC-HR Member Only Access). To further support our federal members on this critical issue, CEB often leverages agency diversity statistics reported to OPM and available through the Fedscope database ( Using this and other data, we can see that both the public and private sectors are, on balance, representative of the broader population (in other words, 34% of the population is minority, and roughly the same percentage of the workforce is minority). But this obscures broader underlying diversity challenges, including under-representation at different levels of seniority and across different job categories.

To address this last point, we wanted to share some stats we found interesting. Fedscope data shows that minorities tend to have less representation in professional jobs and outsized representation in clerical positions across government. This is an important area of potential focus for agencies because professional jobs tend to have better pay and career opportunities, two of the most important factors in attracting (and ultimately retaining) top talent. But it isn’t all bad news, as the trends are actually positive – the public sector has become steadily more diverse over the last 5 years (rising from 32.7% minority in March 2007 to 34.1% in March 2012) and much of this change can be attributed to rising representation in the professional jobs category (27.8% in 2007, 30.3% in 2012). This is no doubt the result of heavy emphasis in recent years on diverse hiring practices, among other reasons.

By Adam Cole, Senior Director – CEB (

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