Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce for the 21st Century

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce for the 21st Century…

December 17, 2021

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce for the 21st Century

 The pandemic has created new opportunities for correcting workplace inequality.

A more diverse and inclusive 21st century federal workforce, one that recognizes the essential value of data, will make information “accessible to all people, not just those who click on the screen and see it just fine,” said Shila Cooch, Director of IT Policy, Office of Management and Budget. Indicators of the government’s shift toward greater accessibility and inclusivity include the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) – a blueprint for how the Federal Government can improve the digital experience for constituents and customers by reinforcing requirements for federal public websites, she said.

Cooch shared her views during AFCEA Bethesda’s Emerging Leaders Professional Development Series on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEI&A). Government and industry leaders attending the fall event explored best practices for building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture within the Federal Government.

The program’s second panel, “Expanding Diversity,” looked at workforce inequality and efforts to close the gender gap in the federal technology sector; providing federal workers with tools to improve the digital experience for constituents and clients; and advancing digital accessibility as a driver for a more accessible world.

“Broadening the search for a more diverse workforce includes working directly with workforce hiring programs to employ people who have disabilities and other challenges,” said Traci Walker, Director, Digital Services Coalition. The COVID pandemic and the subsequent shift to remote work has broadened the government’s ability to attract a more diverse group of people, she said.

Government contracts that prior to COVID had required workers to be onsite now support remote work, widening the pool of potential candidates. “It’s about working from anywhere and supporting the mission in Washington, D.C.,” Cooch said.

Christopher Mendoza, Director of Acquisition Systems Transformation at General Services Administration (GSA), recalled three years during which he teleworked from Germany because his wife, a Federal Civilian employee, had been transferred there. “We need to give people the tools to be able to perform and really contribute. Where they do it doesn’t really matter.”

Meeting the needs of communities supported by the Federal Government calls for a human-centered approach, panelists said. “In the case of customer experience design for websites, you need to include the outliers,” said John Sullivan, Senior Technology Advisor, GSA. “Your customers are diverse. Include them in the design process.”

AFCEA Bethesda’s next ProDev event, Women In Leadership, will be held February 23.




Thought Leadership