OPM Launches a Toolkit to Attract More Women to the SES

The effort to recruit more women into the cadre of career government executives builds upon a 2014 program and comes amid news that, unlike the rest of the federal government, there is no gender pay gap in the Senior Executive Service.

The Office of Personnel Management last week published a “toolkit” for agencies to use to try to boost the number of women in the Senior Executive Service as part of its efforts to improve diversity across all levels of the federal workforce.

In 2014, OPM developed a training program entitled Executive Women In Motion in an effort to attract high-level General Schedule employees into the federal government’s cadre of career executives. The toolkit essentially provides a guide for agencies to conduct their own version of the program.

“This program promotes the advancement of women and men in the Senior Executive Service through interagency mentoring, collaboration and knowledge-sharing sessions that are designed to increase employees’ interest in pursuing a career in the Senior Executive Service,” wrote OPM Director Kiran Ahuja in a memo announcing the toolkit’s release. “In collaboration with agencies and senior leaders, OPM developed the EWIM toolkit to provide guidance and templates for agencies to host EWIM sessions independently with general consultation from OPM.”

Ahuja said that OPM consulted with federal agencies as well as 16 Federal Executive Boards, regional bodies designed to foster communication across agencies outside the Washington, D.C., area and that will serve as host to these events.

Last week, at a White House event marking Equal Pay Day, she noted that although the Senior Executive Service performs better than the rest of the federal government when it comes to gender pay equity—there is no pay gap among senior executives, while the government as a whole has a nearly 6% pay disparity between men and women—gender representation is still an issue. As of June 2021, women only made up 37% of the roughly 8,000 career senior executives.

“For the second straight year, there is no gender pay gap in the federal government’s Senior Executive Service, the most senior career positions in government,” she said. “We’re proud of that fact, and we’re driven to make progress in other key ways, for instance by increasing the number of women in SES overall from 37% and ensuring that the program truly draws from the full diversity of the American people. In 2021, more than half of individuals hired into the SES were women, so we’re on the right track.”

Under OPM’s guidelines, each full day session would include a keynote speech by a local senior executive, a presentation on OPM’s executive core qualifications required to join the SES, along with mentoring sessions with senior executives and a period of networking. The session should target employees between GS-13 and GS-15.