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According to GAO, an agency with a diverse workforce that includes minorities and women in key positions benefits from multidisciplinary knowledge and skills that can help the organization better accomplish its mission and goals and increase innovation.69 An agency that effectively manages its employees provides for equal opportunities, which is essential to attracting, developing, and retaining the most qualified workforce. GAO further states that when an organization’s top leaders demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives, a clear message is sent about the organization’s commitment to diversity management.
Prior to the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, which required the Board to establish an OMWI, the Board had established diversity and inclusion practices, followed the requirements of the EEOC’s MD-715, and adopted provisions of the No FEAR Act. After the period under review, we noted that the Board took actions to change certain practices, including, but not limited to, adopting a more standardized process for recruiting officer positions; sharing a non-EEO trend statistics report with all divisions; providing mandatory, web-based No FEAR Act training; and developing a quarterly reporting tool to show each division’s progress in supporting the Board’s strategic objectives and commitment to attract, hire, develop, promote, and retain a highly diverse workforce.
Our audit results identified several opportunities for the Board to enhance its diversity and inclusion efforts. Such improvements may enable the Board to further realize the benefits of a diverse workforce and reaffirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Our recommendations address issues in the following four areas:
Data Analysis and Reporting—The Board can enhance its efforts to monitor and analyze certain types of workforce data that can be used to identify diversity and inclusion trends. For example, the Board could more effectively collect demographic data on applicants for economist, research assistant, and officer positions to gain a better understanding of the diversity within applicant pools for these professions. Additionally, there is an opportunity for the Board to conduct additional analysis of its employees’ performance ratings to identify any patterns that may relate to diversity and inclusion or to identify any differences that may indicate bias. We also noted that in areas with available statistics, such as non-EEO matters, the Board can provide this information on a regular basis to all divisions. Further, the Board can strengthen its controls for MD-715 data collection.
Communication and Training—The Board can benefit from communicating the roles and responsibilities for carrying out EEO and diversity and inclusion activities. The Board is developing a quarterly reporting tool to evaluate each division’s progress toward achieving the Board’s diversity and inclusion goals. This tool could be used to enhance communication between the divisions and the OD&I as well as the divisions’ understanding of the OD&I’s functions. The Board can also benefit from requiring No FEAR Act training on a regular basis, include both EEO and diversity components in the training, and maintain internal records of employee’s completion of training. No FEAR Act training should be tailored to the agency and evaluated to determine its effectiveness. Moreover, regular, mandatory training can be used to increase organizational efforts to inform and educate management and staff and provide employees with an understanding of how diverse perspectives can improve organizational performance. Further, regular No FEAR Act training can facilitate the appropriate handling of EEO matters by management and staff.
Full Compliance With Relevant Dodd-Frank Act Requirements—The Board believes that elements of its legacy EEO program satisfy section 342(b)(2)(A) of the Dodd-Frank Act—which requires agencies to develop standards for equal employment opportunity and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the workforce and the senior management of the agency—and therefore has not formalized these standards. Formalizing standards can increase the transparency of the Board’s diversity processes and practices and the way in which it plans to meet its internal objectives, monitor its progress, and meet its long-term goals. Additionally, with formalized standards, the Board can be in full compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act requirements.
Diversity Strategic Planning—The Board should finalize its diversity strategic plan and ensure that the Board’s diversity and inclusion objectives are incorporated into the agency’s broader strategic plan. As indicated by best practices, incorporating diversity and inclusion objectives into the agency-wide strategic plan will assist in ensuring that diversity and inclusion are viewed as essential to meeting the Board’s strategic goals. Implementation of a diversity and inclusion strategic plan tied to the Board’s strategic plan would promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in achieving the Board’s goals. The plan can also provide a base from which progress can be measured on the Board’s diversity and inclusion objectives.
It is important to note that while our report focuses on the Board’s specific diversity and inclusion initiatives and human resources–related activities, initiatives and activities that are beyond the scope of our review also contribute to enhancing diversity and inclusion principles.