How a ‘small, but mighty’ agency is working to advance diversity, equity and inclusion
The Farm Credit Administration wants its workforce to reflect the diverse borrowers that rely on the institutions it regulates.
A “small, but mighty” regulatory agency isn’t bound by the president’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility edict, but is still following in the spirit of it anyway, the agency’s leader said.
In October 2022, President Biden appointed Vincent Logan to the Farm Credit Administration board and he was then designated as board chairman and CEO. He is the first openly gay FCA board chair and the first board member and chair who is Native American. Independent agencies like the farm loan regulator are “strongly encouraged” but not required to follow President Biden’s June 2021 order on increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce.
The Farm Credit Administration–– established in 1933 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal–– is “a small, but mighty financial regulator,” Logan told Government Executive in a recent interview. The agency oversees institutions that offer credit to a diverse group of borrowers, so “we need to have our workforce reflect that,” he said.
As of December 2022, the agency’s workforce was 56.9% male and 73.9% white, compared to 57.6% male and 82.9% white in September 2006, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.
The agency regulates the Farm Credit System, which is the largest agricultural lender in the country. The agency is not supported by federal money, but rather assessments paid by Farm Credit System institutions.
Logan noted that in September 2021, the farm loan regulator named agency veteran Sara Lynn Major as chief diversity officer in the Office of Equal Employment (a new role at the agency); the position is one Biden’s executive order encouraged agencies to create. Major is in charge of the “special emphasis programs,” which seek to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce. (This month, at the request of the PRIDE at FCA special emphasis program, Logan raised the Pride flag at the agency headquarters for the first time ever.)
Additionally, in January of this year, under Logan’s tenure, the board voted unanimously to approve the reorganization and elevation of the agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Inclusion, he stated.
The reorganization “provides additional resources and staff to carry out its mission,” FCA said in a press release last month. “It is a priority of the Biden-Harris administration to take a whole-of-government approach to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.”
Logan also touted the agency’s most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, which the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service uses for its annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings.
For small agencies, the Farm Credit Administration ranked fifth for DEIA overall out of 29 small agencies. On the DEIA subcategories, it was first for diversity, sixth for equity, seventh for inclusion, and ninth for accessibility.
The agency’s inspector general said in a report issued in October 2022 that the “agency will need to employ various tools that identify and reduce potential barriers to D&I, while continuing to foster appreciation in its workforce with programs that celebrate D&I and promote outreach and education.” These are things the new, elevated equal employment and inclusion office is working to accomplish. The IG also flagged that during fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the agency had two pay increases and boosted its leave and student loan benefits for younger workers to increase retention.
“I speak candidly to people that I know what the battles are like, I saw it,” said Logan, based on his years of experience in the private and public sectors. He also said he knows that there will still be some challenges ahead.
“I’m well aware of the challenges that we all face,” Logan said. “I often tell people…we never want to go back to those days.”