EEOC Report Highlights Obstacles Facing African Americans in the Federal Government

By Ezinwanyi Ukegbu

On March 14, 2013, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a comprehensive report on the major obstacles that hinder equal employment opportunity for African Americans in the federal workforce.  The agency’s internal African American work group produced this report after engaging in discussions and dialogues from 2010 to 2012 with EEOC directors, affinity groups, non-federal interest groups and an academic expert. The report can be found here.   This report is part of the EEOC’s mission to establish a model workplace that is free of barriers to equal employment opportunity.  The agency has also established other separate workgroups including one regarding issues that affect Women in the federal workforce.

The report identifies seven obstacles that hinder equal employment for African Americans in the federal government:

  • Unconscious biases and perceptions about African Americans still play a significant role in employment decisions in the federal sector
  • African Americans lack adequate mentoring and networking opportunities for higher-level and management positions
  • Insufficient training and development assignments perpetuate inequalities in skills and opportunities for African Americans
  • Narrow recruitment methods negatively impact African Americans
  • The perception of widespread inequality among African Americans in the federal workforce hinders their career advancement
  • Educational requirements create obstacles for African Americans in the federal workforce
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations and laws are not adequately followed by agencies and are not effectively enforced

The report also provides recommendations on how these obstacles can be addressed.  Some of the recommendations include establishing more mentoring and networking opportunities for African Americans and creating a more transparent and objective criteria for granting employees’ request for skills and training opportunities.  Other recommendations include conducting unconscious bias training for all agency employees and broadening recruitment methods to attract qualified African Americans.  The report also states that agencies should ensure that education requirements are consistent with business necessity as required by law.  It also points out that management in the various agencies should hold management accountable for not complying with EEO regulations and directives.