Hispanic Employment: Best Practices Used by Selected Agencies and Companies

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-10.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

        United States
        General Accounting Of&e
        Washington, D-C. 20548

        General Government   Division


        March 10, 1997

        The Honorable Xavier Becerra
        Chairman, Congressional Hispanic Caucus
        House of Representatives

        Subject:   Hisnanic Emnlovment: Best Practices Used bv Selected Agencies and

        Dear Mr. Chairman

        The former Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Representative Ed
        Pastor, asked us to provide the Caucus with (1) statistical information on Hispanic
        employment at selected federal executive departments and (2) information on “best
        practices” used in the federal and private sectors to recruit, hire, and retain
        Hispanic employees. We provided the statistical information to the Caucus last
        June.’ This letter provides information on the experiences of 37 federal units and 3
        private sector companies in recruitig, hiring, and retaining Hispanic employees.
        As agreed with the former Chairman’s office, in developing information on these
        experiences, we sought to identify any significant barriers the organizations
        overcame in seeking to increase their Hispanic representation.


        The employment practices that were reported by the federal units and private
        sector companies we surveyed essentially had as their foundation an environment in
        which the goal of achieving a diverse workforce was reinforced by their
        management’s pronouncements and actions. This commitment to diversity was
        usually evidenced by senior-level management in a highly visible manner. For
        example, senior-level management at one agency established a program to intensify
        efforts to increase Hispanic employment; senior-level management of the three
        private sector companies signed agreements with Hispanic communities through an
        Hispanic association. Federal units and companies from among those surveyed said

        ‘Hispanic Emulovment Statistics (GAO/GGD-96-85R, June 27, 1996).
                                                GAOIGGD-97-46B   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

senior-level management also held managers at various levels accountable for meeting
the goal of maintaining a diverse workforce.

The federal units and companies we surveyed also reported making special efforts to
develop long-term relationships with Hispanic communities to identify and recruit
qualified Hispanics. Those relationships included networking with Hispanic groups,
such as the League of United Latin American Citizens; recruiting at educational
institutions with large populations of Hispanic students; establishing individual
relationships with Hispanic students prior to graduation through, for example, co-
operative (co-op) employment programs; and participating in minority job fairs.
According to the information the federal units and companies we surveyed provided,
networking with Hispanic communities was one of the most effective tools for
overcoming some of the barriers to achieving full representation of Hispanics.

Most of those we surveyed indicated that they had not created any special programs
to encourage the retention of Hispanic employees. In the views of many of the federal
units and companies, the turnover rate among their Hispanic employees was either in
line with or lower than the turnover rate of their non-Hispanic employees.


Federal law prohibits employers, public and private, from discriminating in
employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Federal law
requires federal agencies to develop and implement affirmative employment programs
to eliminate-the underrepresentation of minorities and women where it exists. Federal
law also requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to implement a minority
recruitment program. Accordingly, OPM set up the Federal Equal Opportunity
Recruitment Program, which requires agencies to conduct affirmative recruitment for
occupations and grades in which equal employment opportuni~ (EEO) groups are
underrepresented. Federal law defines underrepresentation as a situation in which the
percentage of an EEO group within a category of civil service employment is less than
its equivalent percentage within the nation’s civilian labor force (CLF).’

 :‘The Bureau of the Census compiles CLF data from the decennial census. The CLF
 excludes persons in the Armed Forces, but it includes all U.S. citizens and noncitizens
  16 years or older who are employed or seeking employment either in the public or
 private sector.
 2                                              GAOIGGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

The federal government has had a specific program to increase Hispanic
representation in the federal workforce since 1970. The program was first called the
“16 Point Program”; it is now called the Hispanic Employment Program. Despite the
program’s long existence, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
OPM,* and the Merit Systems Protection Board5 have all reported since 1991 that
Hispanics had not achieved overall proportional representation in the federal civilian
workforce. Moreover, according to the three agencies, Hispanics were the most
under-represented ethnic group in the federal sector. Our past studies reached the
same con&sions.’

The categories for which representation is judged in the federal government are
professional, administrative, technical, clerical, other (white collar), and blue collar.
These categories are often referred to as PATCOB. EEOC has assigned federal
occupations and CLF data to these categories so that comparisons between the federal
workforce and the CLF can be made.

3~ual Renort on the Emnlovment of Minorities. Women and People With Disabilities
in the Federal Government for the Fiscal Year Ending 1991, Of&e of Federal
Operations, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
4Annual Renort to Coneess on the Federal Equal 0~~orhnitx   Recruitment Program,
October 1. 1992 - Seutember 30. 1993 Q!kal Year 19931,U.S. office of Personnel
Management, January 1994.
5Evolvina Workforce Demogranhics: Federal APencv Action and Reaction, U.S. Merit
Systems Protection Board, November 1993.

‘Affirmative Emplovment: Assessing Progress of EEO Groups in Kev Federal Jobs Can
Be Improved (GAO/GGD-93-65, Mar. 8, 1993). EEOC: Federal Affirmative Planning
Resnonsibihties (GAO/T-GGD-94-20, Oct. 13, 1993). Federal Affirmative Action: Better
EEOC Guidance and Agencv Analvsis of Underrenresentation Needed (GAO/GGD-91-
86, May 10, 1991). Federal Workforce: Continuinn Need for Federal Affirmative
Emnlovment (GAO/GGD-92-27BR, Nov. 27, 1991).

3                                               GAO/GGD-97-&B   Hispanic   Employment   Best F’ractices

In its minority employment report for fiscal year 1994,’ EEOC compared federal
workforce data with CLF workforce data and reported that Hispanics were fully
represented in the professional ranks of the federal workforce. However, Hispanics
were under-represented in the administrative, technical, clerical, and blue-collar
categories. (Figures for the “other” category were not reported.) In comparison to
CLF levels, Hispanic underrepresentation in these parts of the federal workforce, as
computed from data in the EEOC report, ranged from 2 to 8 percent in the
administrative, technical, and clerical categories and 27 percent in the blue-collar
category. The EEOC report showed that, overall, Hispanics represented about 6.0
percent of the federal civilian workforce in &cal year 1994 but accounted for about
8.1 percent of the 1990 CLF.

The federal government’s Senior Executive Service covers the majority of the top
nonpolitical managerial, supervisory, and policymaking positions in the executive
branch. In fiscal year 1994, according to EEOC’s report, about 2 percent of the senior
executives were Hispanic. EEOC also reported that, in fiscal year 1994, the average
white-collar pay grade for Hispanics in the federal workforce (8.74) was lower than
the average pay grade for all white-collar federal employees (9.54).’

Hispanics are defined by EEOC and in the CLF and Central Personnel Data File
(CPDF) data as all persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South
American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The number of
Hispanics in the CLF grew considerably between 1980 and 1990, increasing by an
estimated two-thirds.g

‘See tables I-l, I-3, I-4, I-5, I-6, and I-7 of the Annual Renort on the Emulovment of
Minorities, Women and Peonle With Disabilities in the Federal Government for the
Fiscal Year Ending 1994, Office of Federal Operations, EEOC. EEOC constructed
table I-l with CLF data, with data from OPM’s Central Personnel Data File (CPDF),
and from data provided by certain agencies that are not included in CPDF data, most
notably the U.S. Postal Service. In tables I-3 through I-7, federal workforce statistics
were derived from CPDF data only. CPDF data reflect a workforce that is nearly 100
percent U.S. citizens- The CLF data were as of 1990; the federal workforce data were
 as of tical year 1994.
‘See pages 7 and 8 of the Annual Renort on the Emnlovment of Minorities. Women
and Peonle With Disabilities in the Federal Government for the Fiscal Year Ending
 1994. The average pay grade is from the General Schedule and related pay systems,
which range from grades 1 to 15.
 however, the accuracy of this growth rate may be affected by the relative undercount
 of Hispanics m the 1990 Census. The 1990 Post-Enumeration Survey, which estimated

 4                                              GAOK-GD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices


Our objective was to obtain information on the best practices used by federal agencies
and private sector companies to recruit, hire, and retain Hispanic employees. To
collect this information, we surveyed 37 federal units and 3 private sector companies.
As explained in this section, these units and companies were reported to have above-
average Hispanic employment profiles or working relationships with Hispanic
communities or were said to have information on best practices for employing

The 37 federal units that we surveyed were 1 whole department (the Department of
Energy) and 36 operating components of 5 other federal agencies: the Departments of
the Air Force, Agriculture (USDA), Army, and Navy and the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA).” The operating components are listed in the enclosure
to this letter. We identified the 37 federal units in two ways.

     Using September 1993 data from OPM’s CPDF, we identified agencies and
     operating units of agencies that exceeded the then governmentwide average for
     Hispanics in General Schedule grades 11 and 12, in General Schedule grades 13 to
     15, in the Senior Executive Service, or overaIl.” We judgmentally selected 22 of
     these agencies and units to survey for their Hispanic employment practices. In
     making our judgmental selection, we considered various factors, such as the need
     to include a mix of civil and Department of Defense units and the efficiency with
     which we would be able to survey the federal units. The 22 units included 1
     department and components of 5 other agencies.

     Officials at the 5 agencies identified 15 units that they believed, in addition to the
     22 we identified, could also provide valuable information on best practices for
     recruiting and hiring Hispanic employees. Because our objective was to obtain
     information on best practices, we included these units in our review so that we
     could learn about their experiences.

the number of persons who were missed or erroneously enumerated in the 1990
Census, reported the undercount of JSispanicsas 4.99 percent, compared with 4.57
percent for African-Americans and 0.68 percent for non-Hispanic whites.
‘OThe information   the military units provided pertained to their civilian employees.

“In September 1993, the govemmentwide average for Hispanics in General Schedule
grades 11 and 12 was about 4.5 percent; in General Schedule grades 13 to 15, about 2.4
percent; in the Senior Executive Service, 1.2 percent; and overall, about 6.1 percent.
5                                                GAO/GGD-9746R   Hispzmic Employment   Best Practices

We met with agency officials at their headquarters offices to obtain information on the
affirmative action and diversity management policies and practices used to recruit,
hire, and retain Hispanic employees. In addition, each of the 37 units, guided by a
uniform list of open-ended questions, was asked to submit information on its EEO
program and the recruiting, hiring, and retaining of Hispanic employees. Each
responded but about five of the units provided only limited information, saying that
they had done little or no recruiting and new hiring in recent years because of
downsizing and hiring freezes.

We also met with focus groups of Hispanic and non-Hispanic employees at NASA,
Energy, and USDA to obtain their views on recruiting, hiring, and retaining Hispanics
at their agencies. In total, 83 Hispanic and non-Hispanic employees attended these
focus groups, representing a range of career levels and occupations. The focus group
participants responded to a general request for volunteers.

The three private sector companies that we surveyed were a public utility company, a
manufacturing company, and a beverage company, all of which employed over 5,000
employees. We used literature searches that we performed and rankings provided by
Hispanic groups to identify and select the three companies.

From literature searches, we identified 23 private sector companies that were reported
to have comparatively above-average Hispanic employment profiles or working
relationships with Hispanic communities. We then asked officials of the Hispanic
Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, and the National Hispanic Employee Association to (1) review our list of
23 companies and (2) rank the 10 companies that, in their view, had the best proven
records for recruiting, hiring, or retaining Hispanic employees. From among the
companies they ranked, we selected three to survey; all three were ranked by at least
two of the three Hispanic organizations. In deciding on the number of companies and
which ones to survey, we considered, among other things, the need to include
companies that were located in geographic areas with comparatively large and not-so-
large Hispanic populations.

At the three companies that we surveyed, we met with officials of EEO or community
relations departments, members of Hispanic employee organizations, and officials
involved in the recruitment of personnel. We discussed several topics, such as
management’s commitment to achieving workforce diversity and the company’s
practices for recruitin,,@ hiring, and retaining Hispanic employees. To encourage a.n
open and full discussion of these topics, we told officials of the companies that we
would not identify their companies or link any of the information they provided to any
specific company. We made this agreement because we believe that the identity of
the companies is immaterial to the discussion of Hispanic employment practices.

 6                                              GAO&SD-9746B   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

Although all of the employment practices we discuss in this letter were undertaken by
some of the federal units and private sector companies we surveyed, every practice
was not necessarily undertaken by each organization. Our review was not designed to
determine whether these practices were the causes of the success that the units and
companies were reported to have had in adding Hispanics to their workforces or
building relationships with Hispanic communities. However, in providing us the
information, the units and companies were reporting what they generally perceived as
positive relationships between their practices and their successes in building
relationships with Hispanic communities and in recruiting, hiring, and retaining
Hispanic employees.

Working from Washington, D-C., and Denver, we collected and analyzed the
information used in this letter between May 1995 and September 1996. Our work was
done in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We
obtained comments on a draft of this letter from EEOC and OPM. These comments
are discussed at the end of this letter.


As would be expected, there were both similarities and differences among the federal
units and private sector companies we surveyed as to what they said they did to
recruit, hire, and retain Hispanic employees. However, from our analyses, we were
able to place the information they provided into three major categories: organizational
environment, relationships with Hispanic communities, and retention issues.

Create an Organizational Environment
That Promotes a Diverse Workforce

From the information we gathered, it appears that the efforts of the federal units and
private sector companies to recruit and hire Hispanics were part of comprehensive
efforts to bring about diverse workforces. That is, organizations saw value in having a
diverse wortiorce and created an environment to foster the active recruitment and
hiring of all ethnic groups, including Hispanics. The organizations reported that this
environment was generated and sustained in at least two important ways: senior-level
managers demonstrated a commitment to recruit a diverse workforce and managers at
various levels were held accountable for achieving that goal. However, in striving to
create diverse workforces, several organizations pointed out that they sought to
recruit and hire the best person for the job rather than promoting diversity without
regard to workforce quality.

7                                              GAOKXSD-9746B   Ii&panic   Employment   Best FYactices

     Demonstrate Senior-Level Management Commitment

In general, the federal units and private sector companies said their senior-level
managers were visibly committed to achieving a diverse workforce. As explained by
one of the organizations we surveyed, success in achieving a diverse workforce
depends on many factors; however, first and foremost is the need for senior-level
managers to understand and visibly support the organization’s diversity goals and
objectives. Another organization pointed out that senior-level management sets the
tone for an organization and when senior-level management demonstrates a clear
commitment to workforce diversity, it conveys the message to other managers that
they should have diversify in their units. The organizations we surveyed commonly
said workforce diversity was a goal supported throughout their organizations.

Several of the federal units and private sector companies we contacted specifically
remarked that achieving a diverse workforce was healthy for the organization as a
whole and, in the case of the three private sector companies, was important for
business stability and growth. For example, the senior-level manager of one federal
unit said it made good management sense to capitalize on the demographic changes to
the nation and to the CLF. Officials at one company said the company expected big
payoffs from workforce diversity because employees with different backgrounds and
experiences bring varying viewpoints to the decisionmaking process, which results in
better decisions and products. OfIicials of another company said changes in the
nation’s demographics and the need to compete in the global market required the
company to employ Hispa,nics at all organizational levels.

Following are examples of how the federal units’ and private sector companies’ senior-
level managers provided visible support to Hispanic employment activities.

     Energy’s senior-level management approved the charter of its Hispanic
     Association and approved the creation of the position of Special Assistant for
     Hispanic Affairs to the Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.

     The Secretary of the Navy established the “Hispanic El-Point Program” to intensify
     efforts to increase Hispanic employment at the department.

     A senior-level official at USDA, one of only a few department officials at that
     level, sat on the USDA/Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
     Leadership Group to ensure that the agency’s philosophy and efforts to attract
     and retain Hispanics permeated the department.

     During a time of shrinking budgets, senior-level managers at federal units we
     contacted committed staff and funds for activities such as recruiting, intern
     programs, job fair participation, speaking engagements, and training.

 8                                             GAOIGGD-97-46R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

     The senior-level management of the three private sector companies we contacted
     signed agreements with Hispanic communities through HACR. In signing these
     agreements, the companies recognized the value of Hispanic communities as
     consumers of the companies’ products and/or services. While not identical, these
     agreements acknowledged the importance of Hispanic communities and
     contained policy statements in support of those communities. For example, one
     company agreed to recruit and hire Hispanics, purchase goods and setices from
     Hispanic vendors, use banking services provided by Hispanic bankers, develop
     Hispanic distributorships, and use Hispanic media professionals to advertise its
     products. Another company agreed to review at least annually with HACR the
     progress the company was making with its Hispanic profile.

     Senior-level management officials at one company had been keynote speakers at
     major Hispanic organizational functions. The company also had (1) provided the
     use of speech writers and panel members for Hispanic events and resume
     training for Hispanics, (2) attended job fairs, and (3) sponsored Hispanic
     community and student events and contests.

     Hold Managers Accountable
     for Achieving Workforce DiversiN

In addition to encouraging managers to participate in diversity and affirmative action
programs, respondents Tom the federal units and private sector companies said
managers were held accountable for achieving diversity and/or EEO program
objectives. For example, as part of the periodic assessment of managers’ overall
performance, their managerial skills in the area of diversity or equal employment were
evaluated. Some organizations pointed out that the diversity dimension was a critical
element in evaluating managers’.performance. According to an official at one of the
companies, managers would tend to lose their focus on the importance of diversity if
they were not held accountable.

Bevelon Long-Term Relation&ins
With Hisnanic Communities

We asked the federal units and private sector companies to identify recruiting and
hiring strategies that were the most beneficial for them in bringing Hispanic
employees into the organization. The strategies they reported generally feLl into the
categories of (1) networldng with Hispanic communities, (2) recruiting at colleges with
sizable Hispanic student bodies, and (3) using multiple outreach techniques that
targeted Hispanic applicants.

9                                              GAO/GGD-9746R   Ii&panic   Employment   Best Practices

      Network With Hisnanic Communities

The federal units and private sector companies considered networking with Hispanic
communities through contact with Hispanic groups to be one of their most effective
tools for recruiting and hiring qualified Hispanic applicants. One federal unit said it
seemed to reach more people and the word seemed to spread faster when it
networked through Hispanic organizations and colleges. A company said many
prospective job candidates have come from word-of-mouth referrals, and its most
effective technique to obtain referrals has been to establish and maintain contact in
the Hispanic community.

Units and companies reported various ways of establishing and maMaining contacts
with Hispanic organizations. These included participating in scheduled meetings and
conferences of Hispanic organizations, attending seminars sponsored by Hispanic
professional organizations, speaking at local chapter meetings of Hispanic
organizations, working on stay-m-school projects, meeting with Hispanic student
groups, and participating in workshops and job fairs.

To obtain applicants, federal units and companies made Hispanic organizations aware
of job vacancies. For example, one federal unit said it uses a mailing list that it
developed to make sure Hispanic groups are regularly informed about job
opportunities and other issues of interest to them. Another unit said that it sends
vacancy announcements for all departmental senior executive service positions to
Hispanic-serving organizations in addition to the other distributions that it makes.
Another federal unit said that it lacked funds to attend job fairs and conduct on-site
recruiting but it found another effective means of reaching Hispanic applicants by
mailing copies of vacancy announcements to Hispanic organizations. A company said
it contacts local, community-based Hispanic groups, such as Mi Casa and the League
of United Latin American Citizens, to recruit clerical employees. The company said it
also recruits from national professional organizations, including those representing
Hispanic professionals, to obtain applicants for marketing, sales, finance, and other
professional positions. Finally, for director positions and certain other management-
level positions, the company said it uses minority search firms.

Some of the organizations we surveyed remarked that employers’ relationships with
Hispanic organizations are enhanced when there is active contact and a spirit of
mutual trust. For example, a federal unit strongly emphasized the importance of
building lasting relationships with Hispanic organizations rather than relationships that
are turned on or off, depending on the funding level. The unit also said that
recruitment efforts are usually not successful without a positive history with the
group. A company said recruiters have to create and sustain long-lasting relationships
with Hispanic organizations and college campus officials. Recruiters, the company
said, must be honest with organizations and must maintain a presence with them even

 10                                             GAOIGGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

in a business downturn. The company concluded that lasting relationships take a long
time to nurture and, consequently, employers must be willing to invest money and

Several organizations that we surveyed pointed out that Hispanic employees provide
another means for reaching the Hispanic community and obtaming job applicants. For
example, one company said an Hispanic employee had been successful in recruiting
Hispanic applicants because she had developed a rapport with the Hispanic
community. Employee advisory groups were also helpful in the recruitment process.
At one federal unit, the Hispanic advisory committee worked with management to
bring several changes to the unit’s Hispanic recruiting and luring efforts, such as
providing training to recruiters to improve their interviewing skills. At one of the
companies, the Hispanic employees group would sometimes recommend to
management individuals and organizations that the group believed would be interested
in applying for or referring individuals for employment.

     Recruit at Colleges With Large Ris~anic Populations

The federal units and private sector companies we surveyed often said they recruit at
colleges and universities where there are large populations of Hispanic students.
Some organizations chose specific institutions on the basis of the strength of the
disciplines the institutions offered. For example, one company said it recruited at the
University of Texas, Texas A 4%M, the University of New Mexico, and the University
of Puerto Rico because these institutions produced the type of engineers the company
needed and because they also had a large Hispanic enrolln-tent.

A federal agency, with special authority, had a scholarship/fellowship grant program
with an Hispanic-serving institution that provided numerous opportunities for the
agency to get to know some of the participating students prior to their graduation.
Participation in the grant program also gave some of the students opportunities to
learn more about the agency and its mission.

Employing EXispanicswhile they were still in school (high school and college) was
another approach mentioned frequently by federal units. This hiring was done by
working with educational institutions and through coop and other student
employment programs. The three private sector companies also reported using
student employment programs. Federal units reported that they were able to bring in
coop students even during downsizing or a hiring freeze. Federal agencies may offer
co-op students career positions without further competition after they complete their
educational requirements.

11                                             GAOIGGD-9746B   Hispanic   Employment   Best Radices

Focus group participants and several organizations that we surveyed said it was
important or beneficial to include Hispanics on the recruiting team when visiting
college campuses. This inclusion was important, according to one organization, for
developing rapport with candidates, for serving as role models to students, and for
demonstrating the success of Hispanics at the organization.

Colleges and universities with large numbers of Hispanic students are generally
located in geographic areas with large numbers of Hkpanics. According to the 1990
Census, the distribution of the Hispanic population in the United States varied greatly.
About 45 percent of the Hispanic population lived in the Western region of the
country, about 30 percent lived in the South, about 17 percent lived in the Northeast,
and about 8 percent lived in the Midwest.

One of the private sector companies thkt we surveyed, which was located in an area
with relatively few Hispanics, said it was concerned about whether potential Hispanic
employees would be wilhng to relocate to the area. The company employed several
strategies to encourage Hispanics to relocate. For example, the company used
summer intern programs to give college students an opportunity to acclimate to the
company and its location. It also encouraged current Hispanic employees to be
mentors to new Hispanic hires and to connect with Hispanic employee groups.
Finally, the company emphasized the similarities in lifestyles between the students’
geographic area and the company’s location.

      Use Multinle Outreach Techniaues

Federal units and private sector companies included in this study said they used
multiple efforts to reach Hispanic applicants. In addition to networking with Hispanic
groups and recruiting at educational institutions with large Hispanic enrollments, units
and companies reported advertising on radio and television and in newspapers, trade
magazines, or publications that target minorities and women. The units and
companies also participated in job fairs, conferences, and other special events that
attracted Hispanics.

Ensure Effective Retention Practices
for HiSDtiCS

Retention of Hispanic employees was not identified as a problem by the federal units
and private sector companies we surveyed. In fact, many made the point that
retention rates for Hispanic and non-Hispanic employees were similar. A few

 12                                              GAO/GGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

organizations said that the turnover rate for Hispanic employees was lower than the
rate for non-Hispanic employees.”

Only a few organizations said that they instituted formal programs to encourage good
retention rates for Hispanics. An Army Hispanic Employment Program committee
participated in an Hispanic Employment Resource Conference that was geared toward
agency managers and supervisors and EEO and personnel office staff on topics such
as career development. Several other organizations said that, while they had no
formal program specifically for retaining Hispanics, their employee developmental and
educational programs were available to ah employees, which helped to promote the
retention of Hispanics and all other employees.

Several organizations provided factors that were viewed as having had the most
positive mfluence on Hispanic employees’accepting employment and staying with the
organizations. Although each factor was not uniformly cited, they included pay level,
employee benefits and incentives (such as retirement benefits and educational
opportunities), job securiw, the opportunity for advancement, the opportunity to do
interesting and challenging work, acceptance of Hispanics in the workplace and in the
community, and the opportunity to work in locations that have Hispanic communities.

Among the reasons cited by organizations for Hispanics’ leaving were the following:
(1) dissatisfaction with promotional opportunities, (2) dissatisfaction with work
assignments, (3) the belief that they were not supported by the organization, and (4)
the belief that the organization had not delivered on the promises it had made.
Regarding promotional opportunities, some participants of the focus groups we held
said there was still room for more improvement in increasing Hispanic representation
in the managerial ranks.

According to three federal units, the pay level of federal employment is sometimes a
barrier in attracting Hispanic employees. Highly quahfred Hispanic employees are
sought by both the federal and private sectors. However, the three federal units said
that when private sector salaries are higher than federal salaries, agencies find it more
difficult to hire and retain Hispanic employees.

“One unit reported that the turnover rate for Hispanic employees was higher than for
non-Hispanic employees. The unit explained that its Hispanic employees were
concentrated in two geographic locations and were affected by downsizing, base
closures, and activity realignments at those locations. Still, overall Hispanic
representation in the unit remained above the Hispanic representation level of the
1990 CLF.
13                                              GAO/GGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

As the federal government streamlines its workforce, agencies have been faced with
other challenges in hiring and retaining Hispanic employees. For example, many of
the federal units reported tiding it more difficult to recruit and hire Hispanics
because’there were constraints on new hiring. The federal units also cited the
challenge of ensuring that the representation of women and minorities, including
Hispanics, is not disparately affected by federal downsizing. Reductions-in-force,
which result in employees’being i~.~volunta.rilyterminated, can adversely affect women
and minority employees since such employees maybe disproportionately ranked lower
than white males in the standard retention factors, which include length of service and
veterans’ preference.

Ln response to the challenge of ensuring that the representation of women and
minorities in the workforce is not disproportionately affected by downsizing, some of
the federal units reported that they had or were implementing various strategies to
address this issue. Some of these strategies involve offering employees retraining
programs and financial incentives to vohmtarily retire or separate from employment.
As we reported in Au,sust 1996,13the demographic prome of buyout recipients-those
who received financial incentives to retire or separate from federal employment-is
one reason why the personnel reductions that have taken place over the past few
years were carried out without disproportionately affecting the employment of women
and minorities. We reported that of the nearly 83,000 employees governmentwide who
accepted buyouts from fiscal year 1993 through the fn-st half of fiscal year 1995, 52
percent were white males.


Because EEOC is responsible for guiding and monitoring the government’s EEO
efforts, we asked the EEOC Chairman or his representative to comment on a draft of
this letter. Also, because of OPM’s responsibilities for the Federal Equal Opportunity
Recruitment Program, we asked the OPM Director or his representative to comment
on the draft letter.

The Inspector General of EEOC responded that EEOC had no substantive comments.
The Director of OPM reviewed the letter and supported our findings. In addition,
OPM brought to our attention that it had initiated the first Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between a federal unit and the Hispanic community. According
to OPM, since that time, more than 10 federal departments and agencies have signed
individual MOUs with Hispanic organizations. OPM is currently exploring ways to
improve Hispanic representation at the Senior Executive Service level. OPM also

 ‘“Federal Downsizing: Better Workforce and Strategic Planning Could Have Made
 Buvouts More Effective (GAOIGGD-9662, Aug. 26, 1996).

 14                                            GAO/GGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices

noted that it has streamlined the student employment program to give agencies more
flexibility in using the program as a tool to bring minorities and women into the
federal government.

As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce this letter’s contents earlier,
we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days after the date of this letter. We will
then send copies to the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate
Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Subcommittee on International Security,
Proliferation, and Federal Services; the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the
House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and the Subcommittee on
Civil Service; the Chairman, EEOC; the Director, OPM; the heads and personnel
directors of federal departments and agencies, including those we surveyed for this
letter; and other interested parties. We also will make copies available to others on

The major contributors to this review were Xavier Richardson, Assistant Director;
Helen D. Branch, Senior Evaluator; Rudolf0 G. Payan, Evaluator; and Terry J. Hanford,
Senior Evaluator. If you have any questions about this letter, please call me on (202)

Sincerely yours,

Michael Brostek
Associate Director
Federal Management and
 Workforce Issues


15                                              GAOSGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices
ENCLOSURE                                                                      ENCLOSURE


Detxrtment of Azriculture

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Dewrtment of the Air Force

Air Force Materiel Command
Air Education and Training Command
Air Force Reserve
Air Intelligence Agency
United States Air Force Academy
Air Force Civilian Personnel Management Center

Dewulxnent of the &my

United States Military Entrance Processing Command
United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
United States Army, Pacific Processing Command
Personnel and Employment Washington Service
United States Military Academy
United States Total Army Personnel Command
United States Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command
United States Army Test and Evaluation Command - Processing Command
United States Army Test and Evaluation Command - Aberdeen Proving Ground
United States Army Test and Evaluation Command - White Sands Missile Range
Army Materiel Command - Corpus Christi Army Depot
Army Materiel Command - Sierra Army Depot
Army Materiel Command - An&ton Army Depot
Army Materiel Command - Tooele Army Depot

Dewrtment of Enera


 16                                          GAOIGGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices
ENCLOSURE                                                                          ENCLOSURE

DeDartment of the Naw

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
Commander Naval Air Force, United States Pacific Fleet
Naval Education and Training Command
Military Sealift Command
Naval Facilities Engineering Command

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA Headquarters
Ames Research Center
Dryden Flight Research Center
Goddard Space Flight Center
Johnson Space Center
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Langley Research Center
Lewis Research Center
George C. Marshall Space Flight Center
John C. Stennis Space Center


17                                              GAOIGGD-9746R   Hispanic   Employment   Best Practices
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