Agencies adding more resources – and people – to fuel DEIA initiatives

As efforts to assess the state of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within their organizations continue, some agencies are adding more people and resources to their DEIA initiatives, efforts they say are designed to help implement a recent executive order – and embed those principles into long-term government.

The order, which the president signed in June, tasked agencies with a long list of tasks, which covers key moments in the experience of federal employees.

That’s by design, said Peter Bonner, associate director of HR solutions for the Office of People Management.

“The Biden administration’s diversity and equity priorities set the stage for agencies to improve all facets of the employee experience, from hiring and onboarding to job performance,” promotions, career development and retirement, “he said last week during a DEIA webinar produced by GovExec and the agency. “It’s really bubbling with employees, the way we see it.”

The agencies assessed their current state of diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility, a key requirement of the June presidential decree.

Now they’re also adding more staff and resources to DEIA initiatives, Bonner said.

Javier Inclan left the National Science Foundation last year, but returned in March to reorganize and help lead the agency’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights. The office now has 12 employees and Inclan said he hopes to double the size of the organization within a year or so.

Some past diversity and inclusion efforts in government may have been ‘tick the box’ compliance exercises, Inclan acknowledged. But the goal of his office, he said, is to formalize and commemorate the changes in DEIA and embed them into the culture of the agency.

“This time it’s different,” Inclan said. “All the stars are aligned. There are the right people, the right leadership, and the right excitement in place to get things done. “

The Executive Decree on Diversity and Inclusion calls on agencies to establish diversity officers within their organizations, a process that Inclan likened to creating the post of CFO or director of human capital.

These diversity managers can champion the principles of DEIA throughout the employee experience, from hiring and onboarding to the professional development of managers and emerging leaders.

“We see this everywhere, in the development of DEIA expertise at the agency level,” said Bonner. “This then has repercussions at the sub-agency level. From there, it’s the adoption of it by the human resources specialists, by the hiring manager, by the peer who is next to you. [or] is in the Zoom With You box, which then reinforces them. That’s where the resources come from.

Bonner said agencies are looking for new tools and resources from OPM to help them implement the decree at all levels of their organizations. They seek advice from the DEIA on workplace planning, change management, professional development and onboarding, he added.

The new EO requires agencies to identify barriers to recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting people from underserved populations, as well as barriers they might face in professional development, compensation and remuneration, or training and reasonable accommodation.

“With the new diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility decrees, we are actually creating a sense of legacy because we want it to be the very fabric of who the federal government was,” said Marthaellen Florence, Acting Director. training and development for the Presidential Management Fellows program and Faculty Director for DEIA at the Federal Executive Institute of the OPM.

For Florence, this means incorporating the DEIA principles into training and leadership development programs for the PMF program and others, so that participants can embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within. of their individual agencies.

“My hope is… that they will be able to use these tools that we provide to them, and it will be their job to also inject those of the agencies in which they work,” she said of the participants in the CMP.

OPM also helps agencies understand their own DEIA workforce data, a process some have found difficult. Some agencies require their employees or job applicants to identify themselves on certain demographic details, but the government as a whole lacks a systematic way to collect this data accurately.

Inclan noticed this challenge as well.

“Data is also the problem, or the lack of data, I should say. Demographics are voluntarily provided or requested from applicants and others, this is a concern. There is a general distrust of the government with some people, ”he said. “When it comes to collecting this data, we need to be very transparent and build that trust with our stakeholders and say, ‘Hey, we need to collect this information not for something bad but because we want to know where we are. “”

Bonner said the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility of the OPM participates in the weekly “office hours” of the DEIA, which the Office of Management and Budget organizes. . These sessions allow DEIA practitioners to share best practices, ideas and other challenges they have encountered while working on the new decree.

These sessions prompted agencies and the federal community to form informal groups to discuss IBD. Inclan attended a sort of informal council of diversity officers, which he said the Public Service Partnership organized.

“People have to believe in the effort,” Inclan said. “They have to want to do it and they need the people to do it. We need HR specialists to hire people. We need people from the budget to bring in the money. We certainly need people in the DEIA field, whether formal or informal, to focus on these efforts. Once that happens I think it spreads like wildfire and takes root in our culture. “

About Donnie R. Losey

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