Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Profiles in Improvement

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Effective Leadership: Empowerment


Performance: Agency

Back to profiles overview

The “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility” category measures the extent to which employees believe their agency engages with key DEIA principles. 

We spoke to several agency leaders about the opportunities, strategies and partnerships that they used in 2022 to excel in this area. The examples below offer models for other federal leaders and agencies to improve employee engagement. 

Challenges and opportunities

This past year presented agencies with a significant opportunity to learn about leading diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility practices, to share them with each other, and to integrate them into strategic plans. 

Driven by President Biden’s 2021 executive order on DEIA in the federal workforce, the 2021 President’s Management Agenda, as well as concerns in both the public and private sectors about maintaining equity in the hybrid workplace, the 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey included additional DEIA-related questions designed to measure agencies’ progress on building diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible workplaces. Increasing telework, in particular, challenged agencies to provide a similar employee experience for in-person and remote employees.  

Despite these challenges, however, the agencies we spoke to capitalized on certain advantages that come with increased telework. Improved connectivity enabled agencies to expand their recruiting efforts, communicate more seamlessly with offices across the country, and provide further opportunities for training and career advancement to new sets of employees. 

“President Management Agenda initiatives, metrics and [the Biden] administration’s executive orders on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility have increased leadership’s attention at all levels to include DEIA and employee engagement efforts in strategic and operational plans.”

Senior leader at the Department of Health and Human Services

Strategies in action

  • Creating robust and accessible resources: The General Services Administration created a DEIA Community of Practice that serves as a central hub for engagement, knowledge sharing and thoughtful practice to be used by GSA’s various subcomponents and employees. GSA offices and staff can use the hub to connect with each other on DEIA-related topics, challenges and opportunities.
  • Formalizing training: The National Archives and Records Administration is currently a participant in the Respectful, Inclusive and Safe Environments, or RISE, program developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Jointly offered to other agencies by USAID and the Office of Personnel Management, this program trains staff responsible for helping agencies confront and manage critical workplace issues, including harassment, sexual misconduct and bystander intervention.
  • Meeting talent where it is: The Treasury Department Office of the Inspector General has begun looking further afield when recruiting talent by allowing the hiring of remote employees. By reducing bias toward candidates living in the Washington, D.C., area, employees from previously underrepresented regions now have a greater chance of being included in the office’s core operations—an important development given Treasury’s wide reach and impact on communities across America.

“We also took steps to build an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels empowered to do great work. That includes emphasizing the principle that an employee’s work is equally valued regardless of where that work is done.”

Senior leader at the General Services Administration

Looking Forward

  • Sustainability: To maintain a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible workplace, the GSA is embedding DEIA principles into its organizational culture, creating governance and accountability structures that allow the agency to collect and use feedback to inform change, measure progress, and identify and address necessary gaps in the employee experience. 
  • Know your workforce: The Department of Health and Human Services deployed a Workforce Demographic Survey to collect data in several demographic categories—like gender identity—that are more detailed and nuanced than what is currently released in resources like FedScope, the main public source for federal workforce data.  
  • Embracing DEIA principles in the mission: Agencies should not only use DEIA principles to inform the employee experience—they should also use them to improve the services they provide to their customers. NARA has taken this approach in its 2022-2026 strategic plan and in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, both of which propose to digitize, describe and provide free online access to government records of interest to underserved communities in the U.S. 

“The [strategic plan] pledges to take deliberate and thoughtful actions to address the inequities of the past and to avoid new inequities in the future, and it contains concrete objectives to turn these aspirations into reality.”

Senior leader at NARA