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New research from MissionSquare Research Institute uncovers critical insights on diversity, equity, and inclusion across the public sector workforce

September 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 30, 2021 A new research report provides a comprehensive analysis of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) landscape across the public sector workforce. The study includes historical and projected data for a wide variety of occupations, and indicates areas where certain gender, racial, or ethnic groups are statistically under- or over-represented. 

While employment trends vary regionally and by employer, the data provides critical insights into targeted recruitment strategies to help diversify the workforce. Knowing where over- or under-representation exists can help public service employers analyze the impacts of layoffs, retirements, staff development, training, and targeted recruitment efforts.

"Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Public Service Workforce," was prepared by MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence at ICMA-RC) and is available here.

"Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important considerations in providing services to the public, as well as in organizational management and staffing," said Gerald Young, MissionSquare Research Institute Senior Research Analyst. "Staff diversity has a positive impact on productivity, quality decision making, and financial success, which are all important factors given the multitude of challenges facing state and local governments and other public service employers."

"Ingraining DEI principles into workforce management programs can improve employee morale and retention, foster a reputation of the government as an employer of choice, and help build an organization that is representative of the community it serves," Young said.

 The report indicates there are various approaches to DEI in public service staffing that range from passive or compliance-focused, to more purposeful analysis of policies and outcomes that look at:

  • Recruitment practices and whether they result in diverse candidates and diverse hires, and how those practices can be fine-tuned as part of larger continuous improvement effort.
  • Diversity in the national or local workforce and how it may or may not be reflected in the organization.
  • Onboarding programs and how organizational culture may welcome diverse staff or drive them to leave for more inclusive employment opportunities elsewhere.

Topics covered in the report include diversity in age, veteran status, LGBTQIA+ identification, disability, cognitive diversity, religion, language, national origin, educational attainment, criminal history, and intersectionality, or how belonging in two or more of those categories might result in disparate treatment.

MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence at ICMA-RC) promotes excellence in state and local government and other public service organizations to attract and retain talented employees. The organization identifies leading practices and conducts research on retirement plans, health and wellness benefits, workforce demographics and skill set needs, labor force development, and topics facing the not-for-profit industry and education sector. MissionSquare Research Institute brings together leaders and respected researchers. More information and access to research and publications is available here.

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