In the federal workforce, Hispanic women and people with disabilities made significant gains during fiscal year 2020, yet some inequities still persist, according to a March 23 update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Nearly all demographic groups had the highest participation rates in lower positions and pay levels, except for White men, Hispanic men, and Asian men and women, who had higher participation in senior executive levels. This points to opportunities for better recruitment, retention and advancement — for all levels and especially in higher-level positions, the EEOC said.
“We continue to see slow but steady progress in the federal sector with regard to key indicators of the EEOC’s mission to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all,” Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, said in a statement.
With the federal government as the country’s largest employer — with more than 2 million employees — the report may also shed light on trends seen at companies nationwide.
Overall, most groups by race/ethnicity and gender participated in the federal workforce at higher rates than in the civilian labor force, the report found. However, some groups had rates below that level.
For instance, White women and men and women of two or more races had decreases in participation rates between FY 2016 and FY 2020. Participation rates of Hispanic and Latina women, on the other hand, increased from 3.7% in FY 2016 to 4.4% in FY 2020.
In addition, the participation rates continue to increase for persons with disabilities (PWD) and persons with targeted disabilities (PWTD), who have severe disabilities associated with high rates of unemployment and underemployment. For PWD, participation rates increased from 8.7% in FY 2016 to 9.45% in FY 2020, and for PWTD, rates increased from 1.01% to 1.84%.
At the same time, the increases are still below the federal sector goals of 12% for PWD and 2% for PWTD. The increases were seen among those with deafness or serious difficulty hearing, as well as those with blindness or serious difficulty seeing. The participation rates dropped for those with partial or complete paralysis, intellectual disability, significant psychiatric disorder and dwarfism.
Similar to the trends for race/ethnicity and gender, PWD and PWTD had higher participation in lower positions and pay levels than in senior levels. About 91.9% of agencies reported prominently posting reasonable accommodation procedures for those with disabilities.
However, compliance with a direct reporting structure showed mixed results. About 37% of federal agencies didn’t have the agency head as the immediate supervisor of the EEO director.
“Although only a snapshot, this data helps indicate how federal agencies can enhance their ongoing efforts to make the federal government a model employer free from unlawful discrimination,” Charlotte Burrows, the EEOC chair, said in the statement.
As the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates 33 years this July, the EEOC report serves as a reminder that employers can take steps to create a more inclusive workplace for everyone, even as return-to-work plans and hybrid schedules continue to shift.