The Justice Dept.’s Diversity Officer Job Listing Requires a Salary History, Despite a Mandate Discouraging the Practice
Asking job candidates about their salary histories has been shown to lead to pay disparities across genders and ethnicities, and President Biden has tasked the Office of Personnel Management with finding a way to ban its use at federal agencies.
The Justice Department’s effort to implement an executive order aimed at improving the diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility of the federal workforce has drawn raised eyebrows from some employees, as a job listing for the department’s chief diversity officer position appears to go against the spirit of a provision of the edict.
Last year, President Biden signed an executive order tasking agencies with improving their approach to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Among other things, the order instructs agencies to create a chief diversity officer position, improve diversity training and remove barriers for people of color and women to develop professionally.
It also tasks the Office of Personnel Management with examining whether it would be possible to bar agencies from asking job applicants for their salary histories, a practice that has been linked with the perpetuation of pay inequities seen by women, minorities and LGBTQ+ employees.
Last month, the Justice Department advertised the creation of its chief diversity officer position on USAJOBS.com, but some employees noticed one issue with the job posting: it requires all applicants to list “your highest grade/step or salary achieved” for every job in an applicant’s employment history.
In an email obtained by Government Executive, Stacey Young, president of the DOJ Gender Equity Network, a group of around 1,000 Justice Department employees, said that while she was happy to see the Justice Department following through on the administration’s plan to elevate diversity issues through the creation of a C-suite position, she was “deeply disappointed” to see the department demand applicants provide their salary history. Last summer, Young’s organization lobbied OPM to ban the use of salary history in the federal hiring process altogether.
“What’s particularly frustrating about the salary history requirement in this job ad is that the same executive order that called on agencies to hire a chief diversity officer also directed the OPM director to consider banning agencies from soliciting salary history during the hiring process and when setting pay,” Young wrote.
Young urged her group’s members to apply for the job, but said that applicants should note their objection to the use of salary histories in the hiring process and outline how the practice “frustrates the administration’s commitment to ending ‘racial and gender pay gaps.’”
“For DOJ to meaningfully advance diversity in its workforce, it must eliminate hiring and pay-setting practices that disproportionately harm people of color and women,” she wrote. “Creating a salary history ban is an easy and obvious way to do that, and DOJ GEN will continue ot urge the department to include one in its DEIA strategic plan that is due on March 23.”
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment Monday.