Making diversity, equity and inclusion agile, accountable will help its adoption, agencies say

The FBI and Department of Housing and Urban Development say the success of their respective diversity, equity and inclusion plans depend on widespread adoption and a greater understanding of the data behind employee disparities.

Monica Matthews, HUD chief human capital officer, said the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) created a twofold strategy for greater diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the realm of talent acquisition. An agile analytics tool and a “people plan” to systemically incorporate DEIA principles in the office highlight the two approaches HUD is taking in this area.

We also wanted to ensure that what was developed had the potential for scalability vertically for HUD and our enterprise as well as horizontally as a model for other program offices in our organization,” Matthews said during a web event on the state of the federal workforce, presented by GovExec last week.

The agile analytics tool can drill down to the lowest organizational levels, looking beyond basic personnel statistics such as race, gender, national origin or retirement eligibility to combine data points. It can also analyze these stats by field office, occupation series and grade level. Plus, Matthews said, CPD is heavily focused on digging into internal promotions, session separations and exit survey data.

“Tackling DEIA really requires understanding that root cause or the root causes of disparities within the workforce. And we do have data, but it’s about putting that DEIA lens on that data,” she said. “For example, when we look at human capital systems, and databases and forums, they’re typically configured to collect more overarching information about gender like male versus female. But those things often then don’t represent whole sections of the workforce. And so there are opportunities to really focus on collaboration across federal government to change some of those things so that we can get more data and information.”

The tool will enable future scaling, providing transparency, ease of use from hiring managers, and accessibility, potentially HUD-wide. It also transitions the agency from an “anecdote-centric approach” to an enhanced data-driven approach, she said.

“The second area that we’ve been focused on is developing the idea strategic plan. It’s really a strategic people plan to systematically integrate DEIA into our CPD and HUD human capital business practices and operations,” Matthews said. “And the reason why we’re leading with inclusion is because it really drives the culture of the organization and really allows us to connect each team member that we have to the organization and encourages more open communication, and flexibility.”

The plan requires commitment from everyone, from senior leadership to junior staff, as well as accountability and measurable performance indicators, she said. That’s something the FBI’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion understands, as well.

Scott McMillion, the FBI’s first chief diversity officer, said his office has focused on an agile approach because between headquarters and their 56 field offices around the country, all sites need to be able to engage with the agency’s DEI framework.

“Geographically, we have large field offices within our big cities, and we have smaller field offices that are in more rural areas. And so what does that look like particularly to that particular area responsibility of that field office? It differs,” he said. “So we set the matrix, we set the measures that we’re looking for, we kind of set the standard, but they have to basically devise a plan to how they’re going to exercise action, that plan of action, that strategy, and hit those measures [of] the matrix that we have set here at headquarters.”

Priority number one for the Office is recruitment, and right now, he said, the FBI has about 46%-47% minority and diversity recruitment rates particularly for special agent positions. Initiatives such as the Beacon Project, which connects the FBI to historically Black colleges and universities, and its Honors Internship Program, are important for this effort.

He also said their affinity groups would help ensure the organization feels inclusive.

“We’ve added diversity, equity and inclusion questions to our upward mobility practices, so that anyone looking to become a leaner leader in this organization, that he at least have experience, they have some accountability and some buying in, particularly into individuals that don’t look like them,” McMillion said, citing cross-cultural mentorship and sponsorship programs.

Then once they’re in the organization, the FBI is looking at where minorities and women are in the pipeline. McMillion said the organization is overhauling its processes for upward mobility, particularly for those who are looking to move to senior level positions and become frontline leaders.

Neither McMillion nor Matthews said they were using employee benefits such as childcare or senior care, transfer policy and mobility agreements as recruitment incentives but both said they consider those things once the person is on board.

“I think it’s very clear that, especially bringing in the next generation, people want to feel like they are belonging, and so it’s trying to use those authorities that we have to create better belonging within the organization,” Matthews said.

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