Every New Year brings with it new challenges, goals, expectations and high hopes. This is important not only in our private lives but also in our work lives – especially as the two continue to mesh in the fast evolving 21st century workplace.
With this in mind, my Top 3 recommended New Year’s resolutions for Uncle Sam in 2014 are:
Part I of this New Year’s series focuses on Priority #1: Fostering Diversity Gov-wide
If fostering diversity were a foot race then the federal workforce would leave the private sector in the dust. Nevertheless, much work remains in calendar year 2014 to effectuate a model federal workplace for all individuals government-wide.
First, Uncle Sam must follow through on his pledge to recruit, hire and retain more people with disabilities (PWD), including those with “targeted disabilities” which are the most severe types of impairments.
As U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez says:
- “As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government has a responsibility to be a model in this area. Employers have recognized for some time that it’s smart business to have a diverse workforce − one in which many views are represented and everyone’s talents are valued…disability is part of diversity.”
In addition to improving the recruitment and hiring process, federal agencies need to provide appropriate training and mentoring to PWD to retain top talent and promote career advancement – this includes upper grade levels and the Senior Executive Service (SES).
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta reminds us:
- “By including more people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, we are stronger and better able to serve America. Still, our work is not done.”
Second, Uncle Sam desperately needs to increase the employment of Hispanics/Latinos, who continue to be the only under-represented minority group compared to the overall Civilian Labor Force in general and national demographic trends in particular.
As the Washington Post reports:
“With a wave of government retirements opening the way for a new generation of federal employees, Hispanic Americans, the nation’s fastest-growing minority group, remain chronically underrepresented in the government.”
“And Hispanics say in large part that they are hamstrung because they lack the kind of contacts and networks that have helped African Americans secure federal jobs.”
Thus Uncle Sam needs to re-double outreach and recruitment efforts to the growing Hispanic community, in addition to providing mentoring and networking opportunities once hired.
Ditto for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who likewise have a low participation rate in the federal service. Moreover, AAPIs should be considered for a broader range of positions. One stereotypical perception which needs to be addressed is that AAPIs are primarily hired by Uncle Sam for high-paying information technology jobs.
The White House AAPI Initiative focuses on:
“Increasing the AAPI community’s access to federal funding, fostering the recruitment, career development and advancement of AAPIs in government positions, improving civil rights protections for the AAPI community and enhancing outreach activity to AAPI business community,” as Federal News Radio has reported.
Finally, Uncle Sam must insure that all federal employees and applicants — from African-Americans to older Americans and women — have equal opportunities to advance as far as their talents and abilities allow.
Everyone deserves the freedom to compete (video PSA) on a fair and level playing field.
For example, there continues to be a discernible dearth of women and minorities at the SES level compared to their overall representation within the federal workforce.
As GovExec has reported, “SES diversity [is] predicted to fall short in 2030 and beyond.”
This must change for diversity to truly flourish within the entire federal workforce.
* All views and opinions are those of the author only.