There has been limited progress in diversifying the staffs of federal government offices, especially for African Americans, whose representation has dropped when it comes to senior executive positions.
The Office of Personnel Management revealed that diversity levels have stayed flat and actually decreased in some areas, according to the recently released Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program Report to Congress for fiscal year 2016. The percentage of now-White staffers in the Senior Executive Service (SES) was 21.2 percent, the same as it was in FY 2015.
For African Americans, however, report data indicated a negative pattern. The percentage of Blacks in the SES, the highest civil-service rank, decreased from 11.4 percent to 11 percent. There’s also a wide variation in Black representation across federal agencies. The number of African Americans in executive departments, for example, ranges from about 38 percent in Education and Housing and Urban Development to a low of 5.6 percent in the Department of the Interior.
The data seems to speak to a harmful trend of discrimination against African American in seeking federal employment, a pattern that many Americans don’t believe will be corrected under Trump.
One hundred-and-eight class action complaints were filed regarding federal employment discrimination against Black people from 2005 to 2015, the Coalition for Change, an organization that focuses on bias in the federal workforce, found after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Year after year, thousands of Black Americans, like the Black U.S. Marshals who have a pending class action against the U.S. Department of Justice, allege federal officials deprive them of career opportunities, such opportunities provide Black Americans the avenue to attain Senior Executive Service Level positions,” Tanya Ward Jordan, the coalition’s founder and president, said in an email to The Washington Post.
The gap between White males and women along with other racial groups has been sizeable over the years. White males comprised 36.1 percent of the nation’s civilian labor force in 2016, and African Americans made up 10.5 percent of the civilian labor force.
But stalling diversity means stalling progress and meeting the needs of millions of Americans. People of color are harmed by discrimination in more than obvious ways, Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, said.
“Hiring decisions that create a workforce that does not reflect the changing demographics of our nation are likely to have unintended consequences, such as investment decisions that do not address the needs of women and minorities, or the perpetuation of federal policies that have contributed to underrepresentation in the federal workforce,” Valdez said.