After six consecutive years of modest increases in Hispanic representation in the federal workforce, the Office of Personnel Management wants each agency to examine why.
“In light of persistent low representation,” OPM is asking each agency to conduct a focused barrier analysis on Hispanic employment. Specifically, agencies should focus on employment at the GS-12 through Senior Executive Service levels to “identify and eradicate any barriers to equal employment opportunity, consistent with the merit system principles and applicable laws,” acting OPM Director Beth Cobert and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang wrote in a Jan. 18 memo.
The memo has been in the works for more than a year, when the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment voted to begin looking at the issue in more detail.
Hispanics made up 8.5 percent of the federal workforce in fiscal 2015, according to the most recent OPM report on Hispanic employment. That’s a 0.1 percent bump of the previous year’s numbers, when Hispanics represented 8.4 percent of the federal workforce.
“The 0.1 percent per year is not sufficient,” Cobert said during a Hispanic Employment Council meeting back in October.
Members of the Hispanic Council have said in previous meetings that they’d like to see agencies get more involved with their work. A barrier analysis study appears to be the first step.
“We’re the ones who are sitting at the table saying this isn’t cutting the mustard,” said Zina Sutch, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at OPM said during an October meeting. “We’re sitting there saying, what have you done? Because one of the things that we hear from agencies is, ‘Well, we’ve done everything.’ And what we say is, let’s walk through [this.]”
This is the 15th year OPM has issued a report on Hispanic hiring and employment in the federal workforce. In 2000, Hispanic permanent federal civilian employees represented 6.5 percent of the workforce. Since 2000, that percentage has incrementally increased — the largest increase being 0.3 percent between 2006 and 2007 — though the percentage remained flat at 8.0 percent in 2009 and 2010.
OPM encouraged agencies to focus on disparities among top leadership positions, because Hispanic representation within the SES has been a particularly grim point for the Council.
Hispanics represented 4.4 percent of the Senior Executive Service, which remained flat between fiscal 2014 and 2015. Agencies also brought on fewer Hispanics to new SES positions in 2015. Just 15 Hispanics joined the SES in 2015, compared to 19 during the previous year.
EEOC will separately issue suggested questions that agencies can use to conduct their analyses.