Sep 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration launches Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council

Photo of Kiran Ahuja speaking at a meeting

U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja speaks during a roundtable with Vice President Harris, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh,and federal workers on Oct. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Biden administration launched its new Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council (CDOEC) on Thursday to help implement strategy for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) across the federal government.

Why it matters: Biden campaigned on the promise to bolster diversity and equity across the American economy, but two years into his presidency the federal government continues to face challenges with hiring, retaining and elevating people of color.

  • People of color make up about 38% of the federal workforce and 24% of employees in the Senior Executive Service who serve in key leadership roles, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
  • Black, Asian, Latino, Native and multiracial Americans comprise a little over 40% of the U.S. population, and that percentage is expected to increase significantly in the next few decades.

Driving the news: OPM convened the council's first interagency meeting on Thurday with a focus on strengthening the government’s "ability to recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain our nation’s talent," the agency said in a press release.

The council's work includes:

  • Improving collaboration on strategic and operational matters, especially projects related to DEIA.
  • Working with member agencies and public and private stakeholders to shape DEIA policies and programs.
  • Helping establish clear benchmarks and metrics for DEIA standards;.
  • Playing key roles implementing President Biden's executive order on DEIA in the federal workforce.

What they're saying: The inaugural meeting "marks a major milestone in this Administration’s work to build and model a federal workforce that draws from the full diversity of the American people," OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, who chairs the council, said in a statement.

  • "A diverse workforce that holds different experiences and perspectives makes us stronger and more equipped to resolve any issues our communities face. We know government works best when qualified people from every background and walk of life have an equal opportunity to serve our nation."

The big picture: The federal government has tried to create a pipeline for candidates of diverse backgrounds in recent years, but training and leadership development programs like the Presidential Management Fellows have struggled to attract and recruit candidates, Federal News Network reports.

  • Other barriers include challenges navigating the government's job portal, salary concerns and the often long and bureaucratic hiring processes, the think tank Brookings Institution notes.
  • There is also growing alarm about the surge in threats against federal workers amid America's politically charged climate.

Worth noting: The public sector has struggled with hiring at large since the pandemic outbreak.

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