OPM Makes Diversity a Top Priority: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management Makes New Strides to Foster Diversity and Inclusion within the Federal Workforce

Article excerpt

For decades, programs to increase workplace diversity have been works-in-progress for most corporations in the United States. The public sector also has ramped up its efforts on this front, as the Office of Personnel Management develops new initiatives to grow a diverse and inclusive federal workforce.


Supported by President Obama's July 2010 executive order calling for an additional 100,000 individuals with disabilities to be employed by the federal government within the next five years, OPM's 2010-2015 strategic plan makes promoting diversity and inclusion in the federal workplace a top priority. Specific goals include providing employee training aimed at creating and maintaining a culture where diversity is valued and promoted, and attracting diverse talent through targeted recruitment and retention efforts.

According to OPM, the number of minorities at the senior pay levels increased by 9.4 percent within the past year--from 3,709 in 2009 to 4,059 in 2010. Women held 31.2 percent of senior-level positions, and the proportion of women and minorities in GS grades 13 through 15 increased by 7.9 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.

During the past two years, OPM Director John Berry has taken several practical steps to help drive these diversity changes. He reversed a previous policy that did not allow federal agencies to collect demographic data from employment applicants. According to OPM, "The absence of such data has significantly hampered agencies' ability to analyze whether they are effectively recruiting Americans of diverse backgrounds and to identify, and, where possible, eliminate barriers that deny equal access to employment opportunities."

Berry also created a Hispanic Council on Federal Employment (established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972), launched in February 2011. This council advises Berry on eradicating barriers to the employment and promotion of Hispanic Americans.

In addition to these recent efforts, OPM has three offices designed to "implement innovative solutions to build and sustain a workforce that includes top talent from every part of America. …