African Americans Still Face Obstacles in Federal Workplace, Report Finds

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African Americans still face discrimination and fewer opportunities in the federal workplace, according to a new report.

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission work group found unconscious biases, insufficient training and mentoring and outdated recruiting and hiring practices have stymied African Americans in federal government.

In 2010, EEOC began asking various agencies, affinity groups and academics to identify outstanding equal-opportunity problems and suggest changes.

“This effort is the latest step in an ongoing dialogue with agency stakeholders to effectuate a model federal workplace for all employees,” Carlton Hadden, director of EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, said in a written statement.

Among the obstacles African Americans face is a lack of mentoring and networking opportunities. The EEOC work group recommended agencies create formal mentoring programs to ensure all employees learn workplace tips and about new job openings.

The group said agencies should increase training, both to provide African Americans opportunities to grow within their departments and also to help managers acknowledge and eliminate bias. EEOC found even when prejudice is not directly affecting minority workers, the perception of inequality can prevent African Americans from pursuing career growth.

The report also pointed to the role senior managers play in enforcing equal employment laws and regulations. Compliance with these rules should be factored into managers’ evaluations, EEOC said, and bonuses should be contingent upon making diversity a priority.

Agencies should also update their recruitment techniques, as they currently place too high an emphasis on the prestige of colleges and universities when making hiring decisions, according to the work group. Recruiters should work with organizations and have a presence at job fairs that promote African American candidates.

The work group’s report coincides with the release of EEOC’s 2012-2016 Strategic Plan, which includes many of the same recommendations made in the report.

(Image via javi_indy/Shutterstock.com)

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