OPM chief discusses new diversity initiative

Plans for diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce are taking shape, John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management announced Monday at the Blacks in Government National Training Conference.

Berry's remarks followed President Obama's directive, issued Thursday, ordering federal agencies to develop strategic plans to cultivate a more diverse workforce.

In conjunction with the announcement Thursday, OPM launched a diversity and inclusion website.

Berry on Monday cited OPM's previous accomplishments bringing in veterans and people with disabilities, speeding the hiring process and simplifying the recruitment process as evidence that the new diversity program will work. Still, he said, getting minorities into Senior Executive Service positions is an area that needs progress.

"We've come a long way in the last few decades, but we still have mountains to climb," he said. "Although minorities comprise 34 percent of our diverse federal workforce, they're just 18 percent of our SES. That's unacceptable. We can do better."

Berry also discussed OPM's plan for propelling the initiative forward. Within three months, he said, the office -- cooperating with Budget Deputy Director Jeff Zients, the President's Management Council and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission --will have created a governmentwide plan on diversity and inclusion.

This framework will detail the next steps, which Berry said will include a focus on recruiting through partnerships with colleges and universities that cater to diverse populations.

Individual agencies also should experiment with their own initiatives to improve diversity, Berry said. He named the Social Security Administration and EEOC as examples of diversity that other agencies should follow.

"Our ability to draw the most talented people, from every segment of our population, is one of the most important measures of our success as an employer -- and our greatness as a nation," Berry said.

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