African Americans in Government: EEOC Highlights Obstacles

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a new report it calls the “EEOC African American Workgroup Report.”

The agency says it worked with “dialogue partners” to identify obstacles to African Americans who work in the federal government. The report identifies seven obstacles:

1) Unconscious biases and perceptions about African Americans still play a significant role in employment decisions in the federal sector.

2) African Americans lack adequate mentoring and networking opportunities for higher-level and management positions.

3) Insufficient training and development assignments perpetuate inequalities in skills and opportunities for African Americans.

4) Narrow recruitment methods negatively impact African Americans.

5) The perception of widespread inequality among African Americans in the federal work force hinders their career advancement.

6) Educational requirements create obstacles for African Americans in the federal work force

7) EEO regulations and laws are not adequately followed by agencies and are not effectively enforced.

The EEOC states that  “This effort is the latest step in an ongoing dialogue with agency stakeholders to effectuate a model federal workplace for all employees.” It also says that “The report is being issued to memorialize the obstacles and recommendations of EEOC’s dialogue partners.”

The agency concludes that “Our dialogue partners identified many obstacles to achieving equality for African Americans in the federal workforce, and provided recommendations for overcoming those obstacles. For the most part, the impediments identified below were independently and repeatedly identified by our dialogue partners as the most formidable obstacles to equal employment opportunities for African Americans in the federal sector.”

And,  the agency concludes, it should continue to do more work on the topic: “Through our discussions with our dialogue partners, we have learned that further research into the identified obstacles is necessary….In particular, in-depth research is needed in the area of unconscious bias to be able to determine its prevalence and effects on the federal sector and how the EEOC and agencies can work together to address the problem.”

A column about the report in the Washington Post summarizes the contents in this way:

“Imagine Uncle Sam officiating a track meet where one team has a clear inside lane, while the others have to jump one hurdle after another. That’s the image invoked by an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report….”

While the report presents one side of the issue that the agency was investigating with its dialogue partners, it isn’t surprising that comments on the Washington Post article often present a much different perspective and, to put it mildly, often disagree with the conclusions of the EEOC report. This perspective (or a multitude of different perspectives) is not referenced in the EEOC report.

No doubt, the topic of race in America is not going away anytime soon and this is also true within the federal government.

 

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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