Hispanic hiring efforts buoyed by broader diversity initiatives

A strategy to increase representation of Hispanics in the federal workforce will build off broader diversity and veterans hiring initiatives, according to members of an advisory panel.

An Aug. 18 executive order requiring agencies to develop roadmaps for recruiting, training and promoting more minorities, women and disabled employees will lend weight to the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment's mission and make it easier to engage federal leaders, said council co-chairman John Sepulveda, during a meeting Friday. The panel, launched in February, is finalizing recommendations to present to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry by the end of the year.

The August directive "already has the president's signature and has the attention of every single agency," said Sepulveda, assistant secretary of human resources and administration for the Veteran Affairs Department. "Why don't we use that as a vehicle?"

Council members also plan to take advantage of President Obama's recent veterans employment initiatives to reach out to Hispanic veterans. Hispanics account for 11 percent of U.S. military forces.

Underrepresentation of Hispanics in the federal workforce has long been an issue. An annual report released in October found that Hispanics accounted for 8 percent of federal civilian employees in fiscal 2010 -- the same as the previous year -- compared to 15 percent of the general workforce. And representation increased only very slightly from fiscal 2007, when Hispanics made up 7.8 percent of federal workers.

Recruiting young Hispanics for federal jobs will be vital, with large numbers of civil servants set to retire in the coming years, Sepulveda said. The council will recommend sending representatives to engage with students at colleges and universities with high Hispanic populations, as well as to recruit heavily for the Pathways federal internship program.

Sepulveda said he was concerned Hispanic employment is a low priority for federal agencies.

"Not many people in the federal government see this as an urgent issue," he said. "We have to really focus on how we [reach out] to federal agencies and how we engage leadership."

The council plans to hold another meeting in December to vote on final recommendations, and will begin discussing how to implement those recommendations in January 2012.

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