White is Right When it Comes to Engagement

Lost in all the noise with the release of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results this month that among the best places to work in the federal government, the one thing shared by the Federal Trade Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Management Budget, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-whiteness. These role models of engagement in the federal government have workforces that average a 71% white composition rate.

Stop the presses. I thought that engagement had something to do with diversity and inclusion. I thought that surely the best role models of engagement in the most powerful government in the world would be exemplary representatives for ensuring their workforces look like the taxpayers they serve. Did they not get the memo on engagement and its linkage to diversity and inclusion?

Were these agencies not listening when just this year the USA became the second largest Spanish speaking nation in the world, second only to Mexico?

Did they overlook the 2010 Census data which indicated generational diversity will increase mainly due to multi-racial characteristics of Millennials and Gen Z’ers?

Do they understand that the significance of race as we know it in today’s legal and government categories will be obsolete in less than 20 years. Children born during this period by their 20’s and 30’s will experience the term, white majority, through history books. Better enjoy this white privilege while you can.

Do they realize that right this minute minority populations outnumber white populations in the state of Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia? Maybe the feds should do a better job of recruiting their own backyard-the nation’s capital.

Do they realize that whites represent the oldest racial group in the workforce which suggests they may be retiring soon?

Are they aware of the fact that for the first time in our nation’s history in 2014, the deaths of white people outnumber the births of white babies?

Here is the problem. We can talk about engagement and its first cousin, diversity and inclusion until the cows come home. But until we confront this notion of white privilege in the federal workspace, we will continue this charade that engagement and diversity and inclusion are connected at the hip. They may be linked theoretically but we all know in the real world they are as compatible as oil and water.

As basketball referees say the ball does not lie. As people of color say about best places to work in the federal government, the cream will rise to the top. This year was no exception.

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