Government agencies responsible for the enforcement of workforce diversity require improvements to more effectively push for minority representation in the tech sector, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
“Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have taken steps to enforce equal employment and affirmative action requirements in the technology sector, but face limitations,” the report said.
According to the report, the EEOC does not systematically record industry type when conducting investigations, limiting their impact on the technology-sector’s specific problems. In addition, while the OFCCP sets contractor goals for minority placement as a whole, it does not address specific minority groups, which the report found were disproportionately represented in the tech sector.
“Federal law promotes equal employment opportunity by prohibiting companies from discriminating in employment on the basis of race and gender, among other things, and generally requires companies contracting with the federal government to comply with affirmative action and other equal employment opportunity provisions,” Cindy Brown Barnes, director of education, workforce and income security issues at GAO, wrote in a letter attached to the report.
“The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) are the primary federal agencies that enforce these requirements.”
Over a 10-year period, minority representation increased within the tech sector, but only for certain demographics.
“The estimated percentage of minority technology workers increased from 2005 to 2015, but GAO found that no growth occurred for female and Black workers, whereas Asian and Hispanic workers made statistically significant increases,” the report said.
The report found that the number of women working in tech remained stagnant at 22 percent from 2005 to 2015. By comparison, women represented 49 percent of the overall workforce in 2015.
The number of black employees in the technology field increased from only 6 percent in 2005 to 7 percent 2015, while overall minorities increased from 26 percent to 33 percent in that same timeframe. According to the report, this was because Asian and Hispanic workers constituted a larger chunk of the minority increase in the sector.
“Even with the increase in their numbers in the technology workforce, Black and Hispanic technology workers remained a smaller proportion of these workers compared to their representation in the general workforce. In contrast, Asian workers were an increasing share of the technology workforce, where they remained more represented than they were in the general workforce,” the report said.
The report made one recommendation to the EEOC and five to the OFCCP to improve minority representation in the field.
OFCCP agreed with four recommendations and “neither agreed nor disagreed” with one on whether they should require contractors to disaggregate demographic data. EEOC also “neither agreed nor disagreed” with the recommendation that they develop a timeline for their plan to clean integrated mission system data.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.