The Foreign Service Journal, September 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2020 69 The (GAO) Report Is In on Diversity at USAID On June 23, the Government Accountability Office pub- lished its report on USAID and diversity. With the (not) catchy title, “USAID: Mixed Progress in Increasing Diversity, and Actions Needed to Consis- tently Meet EEO Require- ments,” the 160-page report looks at USAID’s diversity numbers over the years, and calls out the agency on the historical and real challenges facing its Office of Civil Rights and Diversity. The report is a good read, and I encourage all to take a look. I want to share some reactions to it and point to a few relatively fast actions the agency might take. A word on the scope. The report looked at USAID’s permanent workforce in Fis- cal Years 2002 through 2018 by racial or ethnic group and by gender. Data and analysis include differences between promotion outcomes and the extent to which USAID has identified workforce diversity issues and addressed them. The report does a nice job of separately analyzing the Foreign Service (1,689 employees) and Civil Service (1,313 employees). Formal findings focus pri- marily on the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity. OCRD is the agency’s locus for aware- ness and guidance on equal employment opportunity, diversity, inclusion and rea- sonable accommodations. The report points to the historic staffing shortages in that office, noting: “Vacancy rates in most OCRD divisions were 50 percent or higher in November 2019 and, despite attempts to hire more staff, remained at 30 to 50 percent as of April 2020.” It further notes that “a lack of senior USAID leader- ship attention to diversity” is one contributor to these staffing shortages. In sum: “Without the capacity to perform self-analysis, USAID is unable to proactively iden- tify and address barriers to diversity in its workforce.” To its credit, USAID agreed with the findings, and is allocating additional resources to OCRD. On a personal note, in my time as AFSA VP, I have worked with the outstanding OCRD leadership team and staff and am hopeful we will see a true OCRD renaissance. Data analysis reveals some interesting findings on diversity, particularly in the FS: • From FY2002 to FY2018, the proportion of racial or ethnic minorities among USAID’s full-time, perma- nent, career employees increased from 33 to 37 percent. Breaking it out, this proportion in the CS decreased slightly, from 49 to 48 percent; the proportion in the FS increased from 18 to 27 percent. • During the same period, the proportion of women at USAID increased from 51 to 54 percent, higher than in the federal workforce overall. Specifically, the proportion in the CS decreased from 66 percent to 61 percent, while the proportion in the FS increased from 38 percent to 49 percent. • The proportion of African Americans and Asian Americans was higher at USAID in FY2018 than in the federal workforce in FY2017, but the proportion of His- panic Americans was lower at USAID than in the federal workforce for those years. On promotion analysis, it gets a bit complicated. The report conducts both a descriptive analysis and an adjusted analysis (that accounted for individual and occupational factors other than racial or ethnic minority status and gender that could influence promotion). • For USAID’s Foreign Ser- vice, the rate of promotion was generally lower for racial or ethnic minorities than for whites. The adjusted analy- sis also found differences between the promotion rates for racial or ethnic minorities and those for whites that were statistically significant for promotions from Class 3 to Class 2 but not statisti- cally significant for promo- tions from Class 4 to 3, from Class 2 to 1, or from Class 1 to the executive rank. From FY2013 through 2017, promotion rates for white FS employees exceeded those for racial or ethnic minority employees for promotions from Class 4 and higher ranks for 11 of the 20 possible year-rank combinations. In that same period, men were promoted at higher rates than women from Class 4 and higher ranks for 12 of the 20 pos- sible year-rank combina- tions. • Analyses of USAID data on promotions in FY2002 through FY2017 also found differences between promo- tion outcomes for women relative to men, but these dif- ferences were generally not statistically significant. There are some short- comings to the report. It does not explore the causes behind promotion differ- ences or diversity stats. Nor does it analyze the demo- graphics of the agency’s more than 1,000 personal service contractors or more than 1,600 institutional sup- port contractor or Foreign Service Limited colleagues. Further, the report does not analyze the numbers and percentages of employees with disabilities. In addition, due to a lack of data, the report has no analysis related to sexual orientation. There is no examination of compensation, although we know that within the FS and General Service structures there are disparities among the steps, even if employees are at the same rank. USAID VP VOICE | BY JASON SINGER AFSA NEWS Contact: | (202) 712-5267 Continued on page 75