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CFPB Report: 2015-MO-C-002 March 4, 2015

The CFPB Can Enhance Its Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

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Employee Satisfaction Surveys

According to GAO, involving employees in diversity management efforts helps drive diversity throughout an organization. Employee surveys provide an opportunity for employees to share with management their perceptions of the agency's diversity and inclusion efforts, culture, and work environment.

This section presents information on the employee satisfaction surveys process, including a summary of the applicable laws and regulations; the CFPB's process; and demographic statistics for the CFPB's New Employee Survey, Annual Employee Survey, and Employee Exit Survey.

Applicable Laws and Regulations

The CFPB conducts its Annual Employee Survey in accordance with applicable provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 and its implementing regulation.62 Specifically, title 5, part 250, of the Code of Federal Regulations requires executive agencies to

  • survey employees on an annual basis
  • include a set of 40 standard survey questions and response choices and 5 demographic questions and response choices
  • define the set of key terms used in the survey, such as supervisors and team leads

There are no other applicable laws and regulations requiring the CFPB to conduct employee satisfaction surveys.

The CFPB's Processes

The CFPB conducts routine surveys of its employees through its New Employee Survey, its Annual Employee Survey, and its Employee Exit Survey. Over the course of employees' first year at the CFPB, they are periodically surveyed on the hiring and orientation process and on their socialization. Additionally, the CFPB conducts an annual survey of its employees to assess employee satisfaction as well as leadership and management practices that contribute to agency performance. Finally, the CFPB surveys employees separating from the CFPB to determine the main reason the employee is leaving the agency as well as to identify key organizational factors that impact voluntary turnover. OPM administers these surveys on behalf of the CFPB and provides the CFPB with summary-level results via an online database and additional formal reports.63

New Employee Survey

OPM began administering the CFPB's New Employee Survey in the fourth quarter of FY 2011. OPM sends four surveys to CFPB employees during their first year at the agency. The first survey is on the hiring process and orientation. The remaining three surveys, conducted at the 3-, 6-, and 12-month milestones, are on the employee's socialization into the CFPB. To protect respondents' identities, OPM only reports results for groups with more than five respondents. The OHC issues internal quarterly reports on the results of the survey that provide analysis of trends in the hiring, orientation, and initial socialization processes. According to one OHC employee, the results of the New Employee Surveys allow for real-time monitoring and are shared with the OHC, the OEEO, and OMWI to help inform changes to existing processes.

Annual Employee Survey

OPM began administering an annual survey to CFPB employees in FY 2012. The Annual Employee Survey covers topics such as recruitment, development, and retention; clarity of employee performance standards and expectations; and job satisfaction. The survey also includes OPM-identified questions that measure workplace inclusion. To protect respondent confidentiality, OPM only reports results for groups of 10 or more respondents. The OHC issues an annual report on the results of each survey that assesses strengths and challenges at the agency, division, and office levels. The OHC report also assesses the CFPB's results against the governmentwide results, as reported in OPM's annual governmentwide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.64

According to CFPB officials, in FY 2014, the OHC, the OEEO, and OMWI collaborated to analyze the Annual Employee Survey data to determine whether differences in perceptions by demographic group existed. Following this analysis, the OHC briefed CFPB senior leadership, division officials, employees, and the NTEU on the FY 2013 survey results. Additionally, we learned from our interviews with CFPB officials that they are working to address issues in areas such as communications, performance feedback, diversity, mentoring, training, and employee empowerment that were identified through the FY 2013 Annual Employee Survey.

Employee Exit Survey

OPM began administering the CFPB's Employee Exit Survey in FY 2012. To protect respondents' identities, OPM only reports results for groups with more than five respondents. The OHC issues internal quarterly reports that analyze trends related to employee separations. In addition, an OHC official stated that survey results are provided to OMWI and the OEEO.  

Demographic Statistics

New Employee Survey

Table 4 shows the degree to which new employees responded positively to questions dealing with agency culture and performance management. New employees who strongly agreed or agreed that they fit in well with the culture at the CFPB fell from 86 percent in the first month of employment to 74 percent at the one-year mark--a drop of 12 percentage points. After a year on the job, 74 percent of employees agreed or strongly agreed that they knew what they had to do to be successful at their job.

Table 4: New Employee Survey Responses to Selected Questions, Fourth Quarter FY 2013
Survey questions 1-montha 3-montha 6-montha 12-montha
I know what I have to do to be successful in my job. 63 70 73 74
I think I fit in well with the people here. 92 91 78 81
I think I fit in well with the people here. 86 86 75 74

Source: CFPB, "CFPB New Employee Survey: Socialization Results FY2013 Q4 (July-September)."

aPercent strongly agreeing or agreeing.  Return to table

Annual Employee Survey

In FY 2013, OMWI analyzed the responses to 20 survey questions in its Annual Employee Survey to measure employee perceptions of workplace inclusion at the CFPB.65 Further, OMWI compared the CFPB's results related to workplace inclusion against the governmentwide results. The questions on workplace inclusion in the annual survey measure employee perceptions about the extent to which an agency's environment embodies the following characteristics:

Characteristic Questions
Fair five questions that identify fairness in performance evaluations, rules, and procedures
Open four questions that identify whether diversity and inclusion are promoted by the agency or its managers
Cooperative two questions that identify whether managers promote communication and support collaboration
Supportive five questions that identify management and leadership style
Empowered four questions that identify participation in decisionmaking

As shown in table 5, OMWI's analysis indicated that the CFPB scored higher in each of the inclusion categories than the governmentwide average presented in OPM's Federal Viewpoint Survey.  

Table 5: OMWI's Analysis of Governmentwide and CFPB Inclusion Indexes, FY 2013a
Inclusion categories Governmentwide inclusion score CFPB overall inclusion score
Fair 44% 52%
Open 56% 66%
Cooperative 55% 67%
Supportive 74% 80%
Empowered 59% 62%

Source: OMWI analysis of data from the CFPB's Annual Employee Survey and OPM's Federal Viewpoint Survey.

aThe indexes were calculated from respondents' answers to the questions in each inclusion category. Each question provided respondents with the option of selecting strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree, or do not know.  Return to table

Employee Exit Survey

The CFPB conducts an exit survey for employees leaving the agency. Separations from the CFPB for reasons other than retirement increased from 17 employees in FY 2011, the first year of the agency's operations, to 106 employees in FY 2013. Of the 96 employees who took the survey from March 2012 to September 2013, 7 percent cited concerns with diversity as an important reason for leaving and 5 percent cited discrimination as an important reason for leaving.66 The OHC stated in an internal report that "although the goal remains to reduce these perceptions toward zero, consistently low values for these questions are viewed as a positive result." According to an OHC official, OMWI and the OEEO use the information to enhance their understanding of and ability to address these types of concerns. For additional details on employee separations, see appendix H.  

  • 62. National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-136, 117 Stat. 1391, 1641, codified at 5 U.S.C.§ 7101 note; implementing regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 250, including specific requirements for Annual Employee Surveys. Return to text
  • 63. The CFPB contracted with OPM to conduct all three employee surveys (annual, new employee, and exit) in FY 2012, FY 2013, and FY 2014. The CFPB did not have an annual survey or an exit survey in FY 2011. Return to text
  • 64. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is a tool administered by OPM to measures employees' perceptions of whether and to what extent conditions that characterize successful organizations are present at federal agencies. The survey also provides general indicators of how well the federal government is running its human capital systems. Return to text
  • 65. OPM developed an inclusion index, which is calculated from of a set of 20 questions in its annual survey of federal agencies. These questions are also included in the CFPB's Annual Employee Survey. Return to text
  • 66. During this period, 225 employees were invited to take the exit survey. The survey was first administered in March 2012. Return to text