We the Partnership

A diversity, equity and inclusion checklist for the Biden administration

By Joshua De Leon
January 19, 2021 | Updated on August 26, 2021

In 2020, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color, underscored the persistence of racial injustice in the U.S. These events and developments catalyzed a long overdue national dialogue on systemic racism and white supremacy—concepts that are all too real for communities that regularly endure racial violence and discrimination.

The federal government is the country’s largest employer, comprising agencies that impact everything from disaster relief to public transportation to food and water safety. With its immense scope and capabilities, the federal government should lead in the urgent and necessary work of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion—especially within federal agencies and the federal workforce.

But our government has not always taken on this responsibility. In fact, there are many examples of federal policies that actively perpetuated racial injustice, such as redlining—discriminatory lending practices that contributed to a wealth gap we see to this day.

Within the federal workforce, agencies have made progress towards a government that reflects the United States, but there are still strides to be made. While the percentage of people of color and women in the federal workforce is proportional to that of the overall population, these groups remain underrepresented within federal leadership positions. Recognizing these gaps can help government become a model institution that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion.

Several entities—the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration—as well as the White House are uniquely positioned to help agencies across government integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into their missions, programs and operations.

This checklist recommends a series of actions for the Biden-Harris administration to take in its first 100 days that will lay a foundation for government to improve its record on diversity, equity and inclusion over the next four years.

  • Rescind Executive Order 13950, which reduced diversity and inclusion trainings across government, and all related guidance.
  • Restore the new inclusion quotient questions, which measure workplace inclusivity, in the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey.
  • Include “equity” within the government’s diversity and inclusion framework so agencies better recognize and address the distinct challenges and experiences different communities face.
  • Establish a new coordinated government-wide initiative to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Use disaggregated data to better understand how employee engagement varies across demographic groups.
  • Strengthen pipelines for talent without a four-year degree.
  • Devise strategies to help agencies collaborate with each other and nongovernmental organizations.

Read the full diversity, equity and inclusion checklist for the Biden administration’s first 100 days and beyond.

Joshua De Leon is a former member of the Partnership’s Government Effectiveness team.