The Biden government on Tuesday released its Strategic Plan to Improve Diversity, Justice, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Government, outlining a number of strategies closely aligned with the efforts already underway to revitalize the federal workforce.
First reported by FCW, the report is mandated by President Biden’s executive order, which aims to improve federal workforce diversity and equity in the delivery of government services. It is the first update of the government’s diversity priorities since 2011.
At a high level, the plan sets out the Biden government’s argument that diversity is key to improving agency performance and efficiency, and in addition to fulfilling the government’s role as a good employer.
“The United States is strongest when our country’s workforce reflects the communities they serve and when our public servants are fully equipped to achieve equitable outcomes for all American communities,” it said. “Even with decades of progress in building a federal workforce that draws on the entire diversity of the country, many underserved communities remain underrepresented in the federal workforce, especially in management positions.”
The plan calls on agencies to take steps to improve their diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion programs in terms of both agency recruitment and policies to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace, including training, recruitment Chief Diversity Officers and their professionalization development programs more equitable. Some of these strategies mark the withdrawal of controversial Trump administration initiatives, such as efforts to ban allegedly “divisive” diversity and inclusion training programs in federal agencies and contractors.
Others, however, seem to mesh with other ongoing efforts to revitalize the federal workforce, including encouraging government agencies to use paid internships for college students – unpaid internships tend to neglect applicants from underserved communities who cannot afford to go without pay work – and make it easier for agencies to hire interns and other college graduates. The plan calls on agencies to improve their collection of voluntary demographic data to monitor the performance of various diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
The plan also pays particular attention to the concept of pay equity, requires agencies to conduct regular audits to ensure that employees of different races, genders, and sexual orientations are “rewarded equally for similar work,” and stops using an applicant’s pay history as a Basis for determining your starting salary in the federal workforce. The Justice Department has come under fire in recent months for paying civil attorneys more than US assistant attorneys and for continuing to use salary history as part of the recruitment process.
Specific questions of sexual orientation and gender identity of employees are also examined in detail in the plan; The White House wrote that the federal government must ensure that the federal health promotion program “serves all LGBTQI + workers and their families fairly” and must ensure that agencies take into account employees’ preferred gender markers and pronouns.
On the subject of accessibility, which was not addressed in the 2011 Diversity Plan, the White House wrote that agencies must learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that their technological infrastructure does not interfere with employees or customers with disabilities.
“The federal government’s commitment to accessibility should include proactive collaboration with users and efforts to modernize infrastructures to support the rapid introduction of technological innovations,” the report says. “To support this work, [the Office of Management and Budget]In consultation with the General Services Administration, the US Access Board and the Chief Information Officer Council, review existing accessibility guidelines and best practice resources and make updates as necessary to help authorities establish and maintain an accessible federal technology environment. “
By March 23, 2022, each agency is required to put together their own strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and submit annual reports on the matter to the White House. In the coming weeks, agencies like the Office of Personnel Management, OMB, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be issuing additional guidance to help agencies develop specific elements of their plans.