When you research, advocate and write about diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) every day, getting to report on a good news story is always uplifting. Recently, I was lucky enough to interview the Deputy Administrator of the General Services Administration Katy Kale. However, researching for the interview and this story, I found a lot more about the GSA to help restore my confidence in the government. Using the Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope data to dig into the numbers (as I am apt to do), I uncovered an agency making amazing progress in an area where many others continued to struggle.
With 43% of its employees identifying as one or more minorities, the GSA’s workforce fairly represents our nation’s 41% minority population. By itself, that would not make the GSA stand out. However, the fact that 40% of GSA’s approximately 380 leaders and senior executive service (SES) members identify as one or more minorities is even more impressive, and GSA is taking steps to ensure the pipeline of future leaders remains strong and diverse.
Probably for the first time in history, the number of women being placed and promoted into the penultimate GS-15 positions, from which future SES will be selected, was the same as men. A watershed moment by itself absent context, it is more amazing considering that, according to OPM FedScope data, only two years earlier GSA hired 40% more men into GS-15 positions than women.
Additionally, the agency is focusing on building a cadre of GS-9/11/12 interns and recent graduates who will become the next generation of GSA leadership 15 years from now. Eliminating unpaid internships that place people from working class families at a huge disadvantage, GSA continues to invest significant effort reaching out to public colleges and universities, including community colleges, the Association of Rural and Regional Colleges (ARRCs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). Using popular campus platforms, social media and direct recruiting efforts, GSA successfully drove hundreds of students from all over the country to attend informational webinars and apply for GSA’s internship and recent graduate programs this year.
Like most folks, I went into the interview knowing the GSA manages a bunch of buildings and the GSA schedule and other contracts, but I asked Katy to talk about all the things GSA does that really impact the lives of ordinary Americans. The list was impressive. She talked about GSA’s role delivering a million and a half pounds of baby formula to Americans during the crisis last year, managing several public service delivery websites for multiple departments (including Vote.gov that helps millions of Americans register and vote), working with civil engineering and architecture schools to promote designing for accessibility and so much more.
Listen to A Deeper Look with Joe Paiva on Federal News Radio 1500 AM at 9:30am and 1:30pm Wednesday, March 15 to hear my interview with Katy Kale, GSA’s deputy administrator, as we talk about GSA’s mission, DEIA initiatives and career opportunities.
Joe Paiva is a retired software industry executive best known for helping to start, grow, buy and sell tech companies. He also served as both an Army Reservist and a senior federal civilian leader in the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Commerce.
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