Insight by EconSys

How to improve federal diversity analysis

This content is provided by EconSys

Federal agencies invest significant resources every year to complete MD-715 mandated reporting and subsequent analysis. This diversity analysis is designed to identify and address key barriers that create equal employment opportunity gaps. Despite these efforts, however, the metrics by which these gaps are measured haven’t improved much in recent years. The most recent reports show that representation of women is still only 35% and overall minority representation is only 21%.

Using the private sector as a benchmark, federal agencies are well behind the curve. White males account for twice as much of the workforce in government as compared to the private sector and that hasn’t changed much in the last few years. We subsequently know that it takes more than just annual reporting to have an impact. Let’s review some of the ways in which more actionable data can be collected and utilized.

Going Beyond the Initial Triggers

MD-715 reporting is mandated for all federal agencies, but many of those organizations lack the necessary resources to dig deeper. The result is a report that doesn’t capture a true range of potential barriers to diversity. Only the most obvious, and sometimes misleading triggers are identified, meaning deeper causes may be missed or misidentified.

A more in-depth analysis is required to fully understand why an organization within an agency has a more prevalent barrier to equal employment.

This means evaluating on a range of different factors that can pinpoint the reason an issue exists, or in some cases why a problem is not as simple to fix as it might seem. For example, a team of 100 employees may be overrepresented by 70 white males. This looks like a barrier at first glance. But there are several questions that need to be asked before it can be addressed:

  • Where is the organization? Demographics play a role in many hiring decisions. If an organization of 100 exists in Alaska, the hiring pool will look very different than in Los Angeles or Chicago.
  • What is the applicant pool? Another factor that is not immediate apparent is the demographic makeup of the people qualified for the position. Census data can help break this down in greater detail, identifying when an applicant pool is already lacking in diversity, such as with many STEM jobs.

Every situation will be different. In some cases, location and demographics will help to clarify the potential barrier and present a course of action. In other cases, it will offer simple context. In either case, these are factors that must be evaluated to fully understand the results of the diversity analysis reports done each year.

How Technology Enables Smarter Barrier Analysis

With so many factors, many of them hidden, it’s no wonder that HR specialists lack the resources needed to dig deeper than surface level triggers. That’s where technology can be most impactful.

Using analytical software designed to evaluate these types of factors, it is possible to single out any of thousands of possible triggers in the employee lifecycle. These might occur in any of the following areas:

  • Applicant pool demographics
  • Hiring and recruiting processes
  • Resume and applicant questionnaire evaluation processes
  • Staff interviews
  • Performance management reviews and meetings
  • Promotions and internal recruitment efforts

Because barriers can be present at any step of the hiring and performance cycle, it’s important to fully understand what all of the triggers look like. An algorithm-based tool that has been taught how to investigate these factors can do just that.

With the right approach to diversity analysis, agencies can start to fully improve upon the key metrics measured each year. From fully understanding the triggers that lead to barriers, to making the most impactful changes at each level of an organization, technology can help do that.

About EconSys

We help federal and state agencies to improve their operational efficiency, make better data-driven decisions, and empower State and Federal Governments to improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of HR operations to manage the “Hire-to-Retire” lifecycle. From consulting and staffing services to operational and analytical software, we have continued to add innovative and cost-efficient solutions that foster a highly productive and fulfilled workforce for our federal and state clients since 1990, including our MD-715 Diversity Analysis tool.

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