Conducting workplace diversity analysis in a federal agency

This content is sponsored by Econsys

Federal agencies are required to complete some level of diversity analysis each year in compliance with Management Directive 715 (MD-715). But the barrier analysis needed to further evaluate the results of these reports is open for interpretation by the EEO staff in those agencies.

With the most recent Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program Report to Congress showing almost no movement in the metrics against which success is measured in these areas, additional steps are needed to go beyond the base level reporting performed in the majority of agencies.

Steps are needed to evaluate the root causes of diversity gaps, the triggers that lead to poor representation by a specific location, role, or organization, and the next steps in addressing those issues.

It Starts with Data Collection

The first step in workplace diversity analysis is data collection. The MD-715 requirements for all federal agencies covers much of this – requiring a set of 38 standardized tables each year. This report is the foundation upon which further analysis can be completed. It provides key insights into the makeup of an agency based on grade, tenure, location, ethnicity, gender and more.

Beyond collecting the data, however, the Office of Personnel Management outlines how the agency should be using this data to identify barriers to diversity in the agency. More specifically, when the barriers are identified, the agency is given directives to take additional steps that will address them. Unfortunately, the data collection process can be cumbersome and so time consuming that there are limited resources remaining for these subsequent steps.

Evaluating Data Once Collected

Once data is collected, the agency is tasked with evaluating the MD-715 tables. For this to be effective, however, something more is needed. Time spent manually evaluating these reports will yield only high-level observations – many of them insufficient in addressing systemic problems. With the help of technology, EEO specialists can dig deeper and evaluate factors related to hiring, performance management, recruitment and more to find some of these triggers including:

  • Available applicants
  • Recruitment processes
  • Location of the agency
  • The interview processes
  • Performance management procedures
  • Training programs and opportunities
  • Awards and recognition within the agency

These triggers can be incredibly subtle. While clear barriers to diversity will jump out, smaller issues that have only a partial (but still substantial) impact might be missed. These triggers can start chain effects that lead to improper distribution of resources, or the impacts of geography and demographics of a specific position on the available hiring pool.

A statistical model can help to flag tens of thousands of potential triggers, addressing bias in the analysis process and digging deeper than is possible with limited time and resources. Incorporating a strong analytical engine beneath the expertise of EEO professionals is a balanced and effective combination for agencies.

Digging Deeper into the Data with Technology Tools

Technology tools can leverage employee records data and Census records and compare against MD-715 table results to identify many of these smaller, less easily identifiable triggers. There are hundreds of potential factors that can contribute to a specific barrier in an agency. Only with technology tools is it possible to look beyond the surface level issues that might be identified.

Human analysis alone is unlikely to identify a complex combination of demographics, hiring pool data, and geography in the hiring cycle. A skilled human operator, however, using an algorithm designed to review multiple data sources at once will.

Ongoing EEO Policy Analysis

Improved analysis of MD-715 table results can provide the key insights needed to start making changes in an agency that will impact overall diversity. Ongoing barrier analysis and investigation should also continue during the year to evaluate new opportunities and issues. In addition to monitoring the impact of implemented changes, this allows HR specialists to continuously work on new strategies that will increase diversity in the workplace and applicant pool.

This is the difference between annual reporting and active diversity analysis with the goal of taking down barriers within an agency. By leveraging advanced technologies that can actively evaluate thousands of triggers that might create barriers in the workplace, federal agencies can start taking action sooner and with greater insights into the root causes of those issues.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.