EEOC scorecard to rate agencies’ anti-discrimination efforts

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.-The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will rate agencies' anti-discrimination efforts using a scorecard as part of a broader plan to hold agencies more accountable for discrimination in the federal workplace, EEOC officials announced Tuesday.

Specific details of the scorecard have not yet been hammered out, but the EEOC has shared it with a few agencies for feedback, Carlton Hadden, director of EEOC's Office of Federal Operations, said at the agency's convention in Atlantic City, N.J. The scores will reflect agencies' progress in six areas: leadership commitment to diversity; integration of anti-discrimination efforts with overall performance strategies; measurement of program results; proactive prevention of discrimination; efficiency in processing EEO complaints; and compliance with federal laws.

Of these six categories, leadership commitment is one of the most crucial, said EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez. If agency leaders are not actively engaged in efforts to prevent discrimination, those efforts will ultimately be less successful, and employees will be more likely to complain about their workplace environment, she said. Leadership responsibilities are not limited to senior executives; all managers provide a positive example for employees, Dominguez emphasized.

The scorecard is part of the EEOC's broader plan to more aggressively prevent and eliminate discrimination in the federal workplace. Dominguez also announced new guidelines, effective Oct. 1, which require agencies to perform regular internal audits to evaluate anti-discrimination programs and hold agency heads and federal managers more accountable when discrimination occurs.

EEOC commissioners unanimously approved the new guidelines, known as Management Directive 715, which replace rules dating back to 1987. "A lot has changed since then," said Dominguez.

Directive 715 requires agency heads to compose a policy statement "expressing their commitment to equal employment opportunity and a workplace free of discriminatory harassment." The new guidelines also direct agencies to evaluate managers based on their efforts to prevent discrimination and to track disciplinary actions taken against managers found guilty of violating EEO policies.

The revamped guidelines will ask agencies to spend less time analyzing statistics on workplace inequities, and more time looking into the roots of discrimination, Dominguez said. Instead of outlining a "cookie cutter approach" to preventing inequities, the new directive allows mangers to analyze barriers to equal employment opportunities and develop creative, agency-specific methods of helping workers overcome the obstacles identified.

Directive 715 will force managers to "put their old mindset aside," Hadden said.

Under the directive, agency executives and managers will also need to demonstrate that anti-discrimination efforts are working. For instance, agencies will need to submit self-assessments to the EEOC, identifying "barriers that impede free and open competition in the workplace" and detailing progress on eliminating the barriers.

Agency self-assessments should include such statistics as promotion rates for various demographic groups and the percentage of minorities and women holding federal management positions, the directive said. But Dominguez and Hadden cautioned that managers must go beyond just presenting numbers.

Once an agency identifies a barrier to equal employment opportunities, managers should take "immediate steps" to eliminate the barrier, unless the barrier is necessary for the agency's continued operation. "Even where a policy or practice that poses a barrier can be justified on grounds of business necessity, agencies must investigate whether less exclusionary policies or practices can be used that serve the same business purpose," Directive 715 states.

The EEOC plans to issue specific guidelines on implementing Directive 715, but these guidelines may not be ready by Oct. 1, Dominguez said. That does not mean that agencies cannot start developing strategies for complying with the directive, Dominguez and Hadden said.

The EEOC will work to ensure that reporting requirements associated with the new directive are not too burdensome for agencies, Dominguez said. In addition, the EEOC will review all requirements to make sure that they are compatible with the 2002 No FEAR Act, which also takes effect Oct. 1. The No FEAR law requires agencies to publish annual reports detailing how many discrimination or whistleblower cases are filed against them, results of the cases, amounts of any settlements involved and numbers of agency managers disciplined.

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