Issue Briefs

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Following are steps for agencies to take in carrying out President Biden’s executive order on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce under a strategic plan issued by the interagency council created by that order.

When federal employees reflect the communities they serve, the government is more effective and successful in serving the public. An effective workplace empowers people at all levels to contribute the best of their talent toward the agency’s mission. The federal government should be a model employer where all employees, including employees from underserved communities are treated fairly and thrive in an inclusive work environment. The following roadmap for agency action is designed to improve policies and practices that advance DEIA across the employee experience including hiring, promotion, requests for accommodations, and long-term retention.


Diversity Roadmap

The federal government must be able to hire and promote the nation’s best talent and build a diverse and representative workforce through an open and fair process consistent with merit systems principles. Building a representative workforce includes appropriately identifying talent, using multiple means to announce vacancies, supporting a pipeline of new members of the workforce, mitigating bias in the promotion process, and addressing any potential barriers in accessing job opportunities.

Examples include:

• Creating multi-year hiring projections of agency hiring needs and develop an outreach and recruitment plan to seek a diverse applicant pool;

• Evaluating post-audit applicant flow data regarding the recruitment process, initial hiring processes, and opportunities for current employees who apply for internal opportunities;

• Ensuring selection panels and hiring officials complete trainings that promote adherence to merit system principles;

• Soliciting and considering feedback from prospective job seekers regarding their interest in federal employment opportunities;


• Assessing whether recruitment materials are effective in attracting a broad range of talent, including individuals from underserved communities; and

• Building leadership training programs to help create a pipeline of promotion-eligible candidates, including individuals from underserved communities.

Equity Roadmap

The term “equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities. The federal government must ensure that all employees, including employees who may experience multiple forms of discrimination, have equal opportunities to advance in their careers and grow as leaders by mitigating any potential biases or barriers to professional development and promotion. Internally, the government has the responsibility to take steps to ensure fair outcomes and access to services.

Examples include:

• Reviewing policies and procedures (e.g., assessment tests, vacancy announcements, eligibility criteria, suitability requirements, etc.) to identify and address potential barriers to full participation in the workplace;

• Regularly conducting pay equity audits to assess whether similarly situated individuals are equitably compensated for similar work;


• Establishing policies that do not rely solely on prior salary history to set pay and establishing a process to communicate salary bands for job applicants;

• Seeking opportunities to promote paid internships, fellowships, and apprenticeships;

• Evaluating leadership and career development programs to increase access to opportunities, including for members of underserved communities;

• Adopting an approach that maps and assesses the employee experience (i.e., employee journey mapping), as opposed to reviewing data and feedback from a singular time period or experience; and

• Providing employees and their eligible dependents, including LGBTQI+ employees, with equitable access to support services.

Inclusion Roadmap

To advance DEIA, all agencies should provide opportunities for employees to learn, develop, and grow, so that employees’ talents are supported, utilized, and embraced to create an engaged and high-performing workforce. This strategy focuses on ensuring employees feel supported in an inclusive workforce and that agencies strengthen feedback loops for employee input, including through listening sessions and climate surveys.

Federal agencies should advance equitable access to employee benefits, including health and retirement benefits, employee services, work-life programs, and pay and compensation policies.

Examples include:

• Investing in an infrastructure that provides the timely and effective accommodations for people with disabilities and religious accommodations;


• Embedding accessibility as a core design component of physical and digital spaces;

• Training supervisors and management officials on the requirements and processes for providing reasonable accommodations and increasing accessibility;

• Training supervisors and management officials on the requirements and processes for providing religious accommodations and publicizing religious accommodations policies across the agency;

• Creating opportunities to expand the use of individual development plans, including skills assessments, mentoring, and coaching;


• Expanding the availability of DEIA trainings so that federal employees are supported and encouraged to promote respectful, safe, and inclusive workplaces and have increased understanding of implicit and unconscious bias;

• Redesigning Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as integral partners in supporting agency mission priorities and as strategic consultants to better understand the needs of the agency workforce;

• Partnering with work-life programs to encourage culturally competent services that meet the needs of the workforce and destigmatizing participation in mental health, financial well-being, trauma-informed care, substance abuse, and other employee support services;

• Reviewing and updating policies and processes, as necessary, to provide assistance to employees and applicants who may face discrimination based on their status as a parent or caregiver;

• Conducting and assessing the results of exit and stay interviews, and analyzing demographic trends in survey response data; and

• Designing a “Voice of the Employee” program with a sophisticated, mixed-method approach to collecting employee feedback (e.g., 360 reviews, focus groups).

Accessibility Roadmap

The federal government must consistently design, construct, develop, and maintain facilities, technology, programs, and services so that all people, including people with disabilities, can fully and independently use them. The federal government’s commitment to accessibility should include proactive engagement with users and efforts to modernize infrastructures to support the rapid adoption of technological innovations. To support this work, OMB, in consultation with the General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Access Board, and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council, will review existing accessibility guidance and best practice resources and make updates as necessary to help agencies build and sustain an accessible federal technology environment. In addition, agencies should seek to bring together DEIA Implementation Teams, including CIOs and Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs), in decisions affecting accessibility.


Examples include:

• Providing training and guidance on processes to make physical and virtual environments, including common and individual environments, equitable spaces;

• Training users and operators of virtual environments on conducting accessible meetings, creating accessible documents, and addressing potential physical and attitudinal barriers to equitable opportunities;

• Regularly assessing information technology and facilities against benchmarks and industry standards to support equitable access and to remove potential barriers;

• Ensure all technology, whether developed in-house or externally, is compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act before deployment;

• Assessing the average time for resolution of accommodation requests for individuals with disabilities and religious accommodations requests and implementing practices to improve efficiencies; and

• Evaluating the need to establish a centralized fund to improve accessibility and provide accommodations.

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