At a time when the nation’s minority population is fast-growing, the government under President Bush is implementing new guidelines that could scale back a decades-old effort to diversify a federal workforce that is largely white and male.
Under the new guidelines, known as Management Directive 715 and handed down by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the word “underrepresented” is no longer used to describe women and minorities, who in fact still are, the EEOC’s own numbers show.
The directive instructs managers at federal agencies to de-emphasize the statistical makeup of their staffs while making hires and promotions, as called for in prior directives. Instead, they are being asked to evaluate potential barriers that stymie the advancement of women and minorities. EEOC officials say statistics alone do not indicate if discrimination is at play.
“Conclusions concerning the existence of workplace barriers cannot be drawn from gross numerical assessments,” the directive says. “Rather, the identification of workplace barriers will require a thorough examination of all of the circumstances.”