Easing Tensions By Anne Laurent

Here are the Merit Systems Protection Board's suggestions for closing the perception gap about race and gender in government and improving diversity.

  • Agencies should analyze disparities in promotions, awards, discipline, hiring and other areas in their own workforces.
  • Using surveys, focus groups and interviews, agencies should monitor employees' perceptions about unfair treatment. Facts should be provided where perception problems exist.
  • Managers need sample assessment questions and other tools to help them accurately and objectively assess job candidates. They should be taught how to check their biases and better communicate hiring, promotion and award criteria.
  • Managers should be asked to consider underrepresentation of particular groups as one factor in choosing among qualified candidates.
  • Supervisors should be able to clearly articulate their criteria for ratings, promotions, awards and hires and they should make a point of getting out the word about the qualifications of those promoted, hired or rewarded.
  • Where a group is underrepresented, personnel staffers should help managers widely advertise vacancies. Extra efforts may be needed to make sure there are minorities in the applicant pools for jobs in the higher grades and the Senior Executive Service.
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