Federal Agencies Are Falling Behind on Hiring Women and Disabled Employees

Workforce's racial diversity has remained virtually unchanged.

The percentage of women in the federal workforce is declining, according to the latest data, while the percentage of minority employees has remained stagnant.

A new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showed women made up 43.81 percent of the federal workforce in fiscal 2011, down from 43.97 in fiscal 2010. Women made up a slightly larger share of the workforce in fiscal 2011 than in fiscal 2002, when they were just 42.43 percent.

The percentage of African-American, Latino, Asian and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander employees all ticked up very minimally. About 17.9 percent of federal workers in fiscal 2011 were black, 8 percent were Latino, 6 percent were Asian and 0.4 percent were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

 “While the federal government continues to be a leader in workforce diversity, further progress is needed for it to become a model workplace for all employees,” said Carlton Hadden, director of EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. Hadden added diversity was particularly weak among the highest ranks, and called on agencies to increase minority hires among senior executives and top grade levels.

Latino, black, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and American Indian or Alaska Native employees, as well as employees of two or more races, typically held lower-level General Schedule positions than the governmentwide average.

Overall, the categories of women, Latino men and women, and white women all remained below national civilian workforce levels as defined by the 2000 census, EEOC said.

Employment of individuals with targeted disabilities also increased marginally, but has trended downward since fiscal 2002. Disabled employees made up 0.9 percent of the federal workforce in fiscal 2011, down from 1.07 percent 10 years earlier and  well short of a 2 percent goal.

Targeted disabilities include blindness, deafness, partial and full paralysis, missing extremities and intellectual disabilities.

President Obama made federal employment of individuals with disabilities a priority in 2010, when he issued an executive order requiring agencies to hire a total of 100,000 employees with disabilities over the subsequent five years.

The federal government employed 203,694 people with disabilities at the end of fiscal 2011, and increased that total to 219,975 by the end of fiscal 2012, according to a December 2013 report from the Office of Personnel Management. New hires with disabilities grew from 14.65 percent in fiscal 2011 to 16.31 percent in fiscal 2012, the report said.

The EEOC report found only 56.4 percent of agencies in fiscal 2011 issued the statutorily required policy statement expressing their commitment to a discrimination-free workplace. That is down from 85.4 percent in 2010.   

EEOC also released data on discrimination complaints made by federal workers in fiscal 2012. Overall, complaints were down 7 percent in fiscal 2012 to 15,837 grievances. However, agencies paid $51.4 million to complainants in 2012, an 18 percent increase from 2011.  

(Image via Artishok/