Diversity hiring keeps agencies productive

Monday - 7/11/2011, 5:59pm EDT

Dr. Susan Krup Grunin, Consulting Director for Strategic Human Capital Management, RGS

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By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

Agencies that go beyond what is legally required of them in terms of diversity hiring perform better than those that do not, a new study has found.

At the request of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the ACT-IAC working group has conducted research on diversity hiring.

The report shows that the most diverse companies are also the most competitive.

"Organizations that focused on a broad definition of diversity -- not just limiting it to the legally-protected classes -- and made sure that their inclusion practices cut across all the organization's groups and incorporating those into the policies, practices, and training of the organization -- made a difference," said Dr. Susan Krup Grunin, Consulting Director for Strategic Human Capital Management at RGS and co-authored the report.

Grunin said that across the board, racial and gender diversity were positively associated with higher productivity, product quality and economic benefits in almost all the organizations they examined.

"When diversity and inclusion strategies were strategically aligned with their business goals, that meant that they were building this into the fabric of their culture and they're weren't a separate program it wasn't something HR did on the side."

The best way for agencies to adopt more diversity, Grunin said, was set up benchmarks within their leadership goals.

"The VA [Veterans Affairs] is a wonderful example. They have what they call a 'diversity index' in their program, and it's a list of key metrics including measures of how their leadership is incorporating the inclusion strategies into the training," said Grunin. "As part of their performance management plan, they actually have a metric that measures whether their leadership is successful."

Grunin said that diversity hiring makes sense considering the current attitude towards government spending.

"Obviously in an era where we have cutbacks in budgets, if you can make your employees feel more included and engaged in their workforce and heighten productivity, it obviously will help all of us," she said.

Grunin said she hopes that the OPM diversity and inclusion officer will use the findings of her report to make recommendations for agencies with minimal diversity.

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Jory Heckman is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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