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White House Makes Push for a More Diverse, Inclusive Federal Workforce

New interagency council is part of a wide-ranging effort to make government a model for other industries.

A new governmentwide council focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive federal workforce will have its first meeting in April.

The group, made up of agency chief human capital officers as well as deputy secretaries and other high-ranking department officials, “will help to develop guidance to cultivate an organizational workplace culture that supports inclusion, collaboration, employee engagement, transparency, information sharing, cognitive diversity and equity for all federal employees that will directly enable the federal government to achieve high-level organizational performance,” stated a March 6 memorandum from four senior officials, including Deputy Director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office Meg McLaughlin.

Agencies have to let OPM know by March 20 who their representatives on the council are. The council will report to the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The effort stems from a 2011 executive order directing agencies to incorporate various programs to help the government hire and retain more minorities, people with disabilities, women and veterans. President Obama has often said he wants the federal workforce to serve as a model of diversity and inclusion to the rest of the American labor force. And OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told reporters Monday that concerns over a lack of diversity in the federal government were the main complaint she heard during her nationwide listening tour in the last year.

OPM on Monday announced a governmentwide initiative, dubbed “REDI” (recruitment, engagement, diversity and inclusion) to improve the federal hiring process and boost employee engagement. The multi-pronged effort focuses on revamping the Web portal for federal job applicants, improving the troubled Pathways program and making the Senior Executive Service more diverse.

Part of the increased focus on diversity and inclusion involves encouraging agencies to use “new inclusion quotient learning tools” aimed at promoting inclusive intelligence. “Inclusive intelligence is the intentional, deliberate and proactive acts that increase work group intelligence by ensuring people feel they ‘belong’ and are ‘uniquely’ valued,” the memo said. In the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, 55 percent of all respondents said management supports diversity in the workforce, and 74 percent said that “supervisors value employees.” But just 43 percent said they believed “all employees are treated equitably.”

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