U.S. Postal Service:
Diversity in District Management-Level Positions
GGD-00-142: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 2000.
- Full Report:
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the representation of women and minorities in the Postal Service's (USPS) Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) management-level positions, focusing on: (1) statistical information on the representation of women and minorities in EAS levels 16 through 26 in USPS nationwide for fiscal year (FY) 1999; (2) the Chicago, IL, and Akron, OH, postal districts: (a) representation of women and minorities in EAS levels 16 through 26; (b) initiatives implemented to promote diversity; and (c) lessons identified by district officials that relate to increasing diversity; and (3) equal employment opportunity (EEO) concerns at the Youngstown, OH, postal site.
GAO noted that: (1) at the end of FY 1999, women and minorities in USPS' districts represented a district average of about 49 percent of the EAS 16 through 26 workforce; (2) the representation of women and minorities in EAS levels 16 through 26 in USPS' 83 districts ranged from about 22 percent to 95 percent; (3) in Chicago, women and minorities represented about 93 percent of the EAS 16 through 26 workforce compared with their overall workforce representation of 92 percent; (4) in Akron, the representation of women and minorities in the district's EAS 16 through 26 workforce was about 41 percent compared with their overall workforce representation of about 46 percent at the end of FY 1999; (5) in Chicago, black men and women represented about 84 percent of the EAS 16 through 26 workforce in FY 1999--white, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American men and women represented about 16 percent; (6) in Akron, white men and women represented about 81 percent of the EAS 16 through 26 workforce in FY 1999--black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American men and women represented about 19 percent; (7) both the Chicago and Akron district offices are using the Associate Supervisor Program (ASP) to increase the representation of women and minorities in EAS levels 16 through 26; (8) ASP has provided opportunities for a diverse group of employees from lower grade levels to be trained and eventually promoted into first-level supervisory positions; (9) to improve other aspects of diversity, both districts are using a national alternative dispute resolution program referred to as REDRESS (Resolve Employment Disputes, Reach Equitable Solutions Swiftly) to facilitate discussion between managers and employees on individual EEO complaint issues; (10) Chicago and Akron have also developed their own individual initiatives to promote appreciation for cultural differences; (11) according to district officials in Chicago and Akron: (a) management must demonstrate its commitment to diversity; (b) training and career development programs must be made available to provide opportunities for women and minorities to ascend to supervisory and management-level positions; and (c) an environment that encourages communications and cultural appreciation between management and employees must be established; (12) regarding the alleged EEO concerns at the Youngstown postal site, district records show that race and sex discrimination were most often cited as the bases for the complaints; and (13) management, union representatives, and employees had different opinions about the source of the problem.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: The Allegheny Area formed a Workplace Assessment Team to study the Youngstown Processing and Distribution Center to identify workplace issues of discrimination, communication, and labor management relations, and to make recommendations for improvement. The team used three methods to gather data: (1) a climate assessment in which 25 percent of the workforce was interviewed; (2) focus groups with 7 target groups including black males and females, white males and females, Hispanics, and union stewards; and (3) a review of FY EEO data compared to FY99 data. The team found that: (1) several employees perceived that management treated some employees unfairly and showed favoritism to others; (2) several employees perceived a lack of cooperation and teamwork among co-workers and expressed concern over their ability to get along with each other; (3) several employees perceived management to be ineffective in communicating with employees; (4) several employees perceived diversity issues, including race and gender; (5) some supervisors perceived that upper management did not provide recognition based upon performance or hold supervisors accountable for poor performance; and (6) EEO data showed that EEO complaints decreased 30.4 percent in FY00 from FY99. Where complaints went to hearing in 1999 and 2000, there were no findings of employment discrimination by the EEOC. Most 1999 complaints cited sex and race as the bases for complaints and assignment of duties and termination as the issues. In 2000, most complaints cited were physical disability and sex as the bases and assignment of duties and allegations of harassment as the issues. The Area office made 17 recommendations to address the findings, including implementing employee recognition programs based on clearly defined and measurable performance indicators; conducting team-building exercises and workplace violence prevention programs; doing training sessions for supervisors and managers on effectively communicating with employees; conducting diversity sensitivity training for all employees; and developing performance improvement plans for those supervisors who do not meet goals and expectations. The Akron District developed an action plan establishing 13 activities for implementing the recommendations. Certain activities will be ongoing, such as 15-minute question and answer sessions between the Plant Manager and employees on each workshift addressing communications issues. The recommendations are being addressed through a variety of activities, including sharing the Team Allegheny Results Training with supervisors; providing up to four hours of workplace violence prevention training to management and craft employees; making a suggestion box available to all employees and a separate communication board for employee questions to which management will respond within 10 days of receipt; instituting a 2-4 hour diversity program for training management staff on interpersonal skills; establishing a program to recognize exemplary employees through verbal recognition, special achievement awards, and certificates of appreciation. The Area Office has said that a followup assessment will be done in 8-12 months. GAO considers the Youngstown actions to have sufficiently addressed the recommendations.
Recommendation: The Vice President of Operations for the Allegheny Area Office should: (1) reassess whether EEO concerns are a problem in Youngstown by conducting a followup review of Youngstown processing and distribution center employees within the next 6 to 12 months to determine what the employees believe the issues are with respect to the workplace environment, such as discrimination, communications, or labor/management relations; and (2) determine what actions are needed to address any issues identified.
Agency Affected: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Allegheny District Office, PA