We the Partnership

How Partnership West embraces diversity, equity and inclusion

By Jessica Reynoso
December 17, 2020 | Updated on March 26, 2021

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery underscore the need for organizations to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. But program managers often struggle to incorporate DEI into their day-to-day work and organizational strategy.  

Partnership West, an extension of the Partnership’s operations to California, has made an intentional effort to do so. Here are three examples that demonstrate how Partnership West has woven DEI principles into our operations. We hope these examples will inspire others to consider how they might emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in their own programs.  

The Partnership West Advisory Council 

As it nears its 20th anniversary, the Partnership continues to collaborate with federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the private sector to make government more effective. When it launched Partnership West, however, the Partnership recognized that federal communities in California have different needs and concerns than those located in Washington, D.C.  

To help us better understand the West Coast’s unique challenges, Partnership West formed an advisory council comprised of five California-based executives who work in different sectors and positions. From the outset, we decided to build a council that reflects the communities we serve and includes members diverse in ethnicity, gender, age and political affiliation. 

The Public Service Leadership Circle 

The Public Service Leadership Circle is a virtual cross-agency leadership development program offered exclusively to West Coast-based federal employees. Our inaugural cohort includes 13 federal employees ranging from GS-5 to GS-13 who reside in various cities across California.  

Due to budgetary constraints, federal employees in the region often lack the funding to participate in leadership development training sessions. By offering them virtually, however, Partnership West has set these programs at a more accessible price point and opened new professional development opportunities to a broader swath of California’s federal employees. These opportunities will help position leaders to respond to California’s unique challenges more effectively.  

Entry-Level Talent Assessment 

With funding from the James Irvine Foundation, Partnership West conducted research on federal opportunities for Californians without a four-year degree. By analyzing federal employment data, conducting interviews and organizing focus groups, we identified potential jobs and the barriers of entry for this population.  

This research comes on the heels of a recent executive order that urges agencies to use skills-based assessments, rather than education credentials, to evaluate federal job candidates. To prepare to implement the new order, the Office of Personnel Management recently reviewed 400 government occupations and found that all but 50 do not require a four-year degree to satisfy federal hiring laws. 

Job seekers without a four-year degree are an underutilized talent pool in the federal government. By easing the educational requirements for certain jobs, our federal workforce will better reflect the diverse communities it serves.  

In a report that we plan to publish in February 2021, we will provide recommendations for hiring officials to facilitate the hiring and promotion of applicants without a four-year degree, and provide community-based organizations and community colleges with resources to support applicants who pursue government work.  

Questions to Ask Around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

You can emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in your own programs by addressing these three questions in 2021: 

  • As you expand your network, what can you do to ensure that it is more representative of the community you serve?  
  • How can you leverage technology to reach new and underrepresented audiences? 
  • How might you leverage your organization’s expertise to create access to opportunities for historically marginalized communities?  

Jessica Reynoso