By Patricia H Kushlis
(Note: This post is based on information collected over a number of years by a WV friend.)
Pity President Obama whose standing with a key Democratic Party constituency is taking a hit over immigration policy. Is he deserving of the moniker “deporter in chief” or is he getting a bum rap from Hispanic groups? One way to measure his solidarity with the Hispanic community is by evaluating his administration’s efforts to increase the number of Hispanics in the federal workforce, and to promote and create opportunities for advancement of Hispanics already in the federal workforce.
Unfortunately, in this respect, Obama’s record is no better than prior administrations. The administration has mimicked what previous administration have done, which is to appoint some Hispanic politicians, party activists, and donors to cabinet and sub-cabinet policy positions and ambassadorships, while doing little to hire, retain, and promote Hispanics in the federal workforce.
Starting with an overview of Hispanic federal employment at the moment, in its latest “Annual Report to the President on Hispanic Employment in the Federal Government,” OMB reports that Hispanics in 2012 make up 8.2% of the federal workforce overall, an increase from the 6.5% that were active in 2000. By agency, the highest representation of Hispanics is the Department of Homeland Security whose personnel is 20.9% Hispanic. The agency with the lowest representation is Health and Human Services, whose staff is 3.4% Hispanic.
What about the State Department, the agency nearest and dearest to the heart of WhirledView readers?
How does State fare in OMB’s annual reports and with the EEOC, which also keeps gender and ethnicity statistics on the federal agencies? Well, it’s hard to be precise because State, uniquely it seems among federal agencies, does not allow the general public access to its gender/ethnic promotion statistics, classifying them as SBU and hiding them behind the department’s intranet wall.
Going back to 2000, the only year that State published promotion figures based on gender and ethnicity was in 2012, when they appeared in the June 2012 issue of State Magazine. Those statistics disappeared from State Magazine in 2013 and 2014.
Further adding to the mystery, the statistics that the State Department provides to the EEOC about Hispanic employment do not include the Foreign Service; in other words, for reasons only State management knows, the department refuses to disclose figures for career diplomats and deems itself compliant offering only civil service numbers to the public.
In the interest of showing something positive in an otherwise dismal picture, let’s first lay out the best case scenario for the State Department based on what is publicly known. OMB reports the department’s percentage of Hispanics in its workforce (minus the Foreign Service) in 2012 was 5.2%, which is a .2% increase from the previous year and an increase of 1.4% from 2001, when OMB first reported State’s workforce as 3.8% Hispanic.
State Magazine reported in June 2012 that the 2011 Foreign Service promotion rate, broken down by ethnicity and race, was 31.8% for Whites, 15.6% for African Americans, 14.3% for Hispanics, 14.9% for Asian Americans, and 50% for Native Americans. It is important to note that these figures are not broken down by cone and that, lacking overall numbers of how many competed for promotion in each ethnic group, the percentages may be misleading. Nevertheless, these percentages appear robust on first impression.
Finally, the Department has nominated the first Hispanic officer ever to serve as Director General of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Arnold Chacon, and appointed the first ever Hispanic from the career service to serve in the EUR (European Bureau) front office as a DAS. Bravo! This is progress!
But before we get too excited about ”progress” (remarkable only for how glacial-like changes come to the department), let’s look at the track record going back ten to fifteen years, examining not only available statistics (as imprecise or incomplete as they are) but adding anecdotal evidence that allows a fuller picture to emerge.
Spoiler alert! The picture that emerges is not pretty.
We turn first to the statistics that OPM has been keeping agency by agency of Hispanic employment pursuant to Executive Order 13171, issued under President Clinton on October 12, 2000. (The reports are available at the OPM website: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/diversity-and-inclusion/reports.) OPM ranks agencies by the percentage of Hispanics employed in their workforce. For additional contrast, it compares how the percentage of Hispanics in each agency stacks up vis a vis the Relevant Civilian Labor Force (RCLF).
Year by year since these records have been kept, the State Department ranks in the bottom quarter of the reporting agencies, not only employing significantly fewer Hispanics than other agencies, but also consistently under performing in comparison with the Relevant Civilian Labor Force. Here are the statistics from 2001 through 2010:
FY 2001 - State Hispanic employees 3.8%/5.1% RCLF;
FY 2002 - State Hispanic employees 3.8%/5.1% RCLF;
FY 2003 - State Hispanic employees 4.6%/5.1% RCLF;
FY 2004 - State Hispanic employees 4.6%/7.6% RCLF;
FY 2005 - State Hispanic employees 4.7%/7.5% RCLF;
FY 2006 - State Hispanic employees 4.3%/7.6% RCLF;
FY 2007 - State Hispanic employees 4.8%/7.6% RCLF;
FY 2008 - State Hispanic employees 5.2%/7.5% RCLF;
FY 2009 - OMB reports that State did not provide data for this fiscal year
FY 2010 - State Hispanic employees 5.2%/No RCLF data
Records kept by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission similarly point to chronic under representation of Hispanics at State. In its Annual Report on the Federal Workforce (the reports are available at www.eeoc.gov/federal/reports) the EEOC breaks down State’s workforce by gender and ethnicity from FY 2005 through FY 2010:
FY 2005 - Total permanent workforce 18,655
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 5.35% (83.63% whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 2.84% (86.50% whites)
FY 2006 - Total permanent workforce 18,831
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 4.11% (85.68% whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 1.99% (93.98% whites)
FY 2007 - Total permanent workforce 19,518
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 4.15% (85.45% whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 1.75% (93.86% whites)
FY 2008 - Total permanent workforce 19,922
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 3.50% (87.98% whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 3.09% (93.83% whites)
FY 2009 - Total permanent workforce 21,952
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 3.46% (84.47% whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 2.63% (87.50% whites)
FY 2010 - Total permanent workforce 22,120
Hispanics in foreign affairs functions 3.28% (87.17 whites)
Hispanics in the Senior Executive Service 1.89% (91.19% whites)
These statistics are significant for at least two reasons: while the total permanent workforce at State has slowly increased from FY 2005 to FY 2010, the percentage of Hispanics in foreign affairs functions has fluctuated from slightly over 5% in 2005 to slightly over 3% in 2010, and back to slightly over 5% in 2012, at a time when the Hispanic population and workforce in this country is booming (Hispanics are now over 17% of the U.S. population). Second, and importantly, the percentage of Hispanics in the Senior Service drops dramatically even from the low percentage of total Hispanics in the State workforce; the downward trend underscores that Hispanics at State are not being promoted in a manner consistent with equal employment best practices.