EconSys Blog

How Barrier Analysis Addresses Diversity Gaps in Federal Agencies

Aug 22, 2018 | By: Drew Lessard | Category: Workforce Analytics

All federal agencies are tasked with performing standardized reporting each year to meet MD-715 requirements. The tables included in the management directive are designed to help agencies identify potential triggers for gaps in representation, but in many agencies it’s difficult to get to that point. businessmen-solving-problems-PHD2SS6

The time it takes to prepare these reports and ensure they are compliant means human resource specialists lack the time needed to delve deeper into the data and identify those triggers. Barrier analysis can help to address potential diversity gaps, but there needs to be enough time to implement a good system. Let’s look at the benefits of such a system and how it can be implemented more effectively at the agency level. 

What Barrier Analysis Does

Depending on the size and distribution of an organization, reports may be produced at 2nd, 3rd, or 4thlevel components, which may need to coordinate with the agency. After that data has been collected, the next stage should be to analyze and determine if there are specific barriers for subsets of the population. There are several factors that need to be taken into account here for effective barrier analysis:

  • Location
  • Agency Size
  • Nature of Positions

All of these factors will directly influence what the expected breakdown should be by gender and race. Data can be drawn from the Census Bureau to identify the breakdown of certain roles and locations but it’s not always possible to implement the systems needed to analyze based on this data. 

>>> Download the eBook on How to Shift from Data Gathering to Data Driven  Decisions in Your MD-715 Reporting.

For this reason, most barrier analysis is done at a very high level, if at all. Fairly obvious triggers will be noted. For example, if an agency’s IT analysts are 95% white male, the trigger becomes evident at a high level. But what if that organization is in North Dakota, the number is closer to 70% and it’s a smaller population to draw from? This is where more in-depth barrier analysis comes in.

The measures by which an organization determines there are barriers are moving targets. They will vary depending on geography, size of the organization, and other factors that need to be accounted for in the data. A field office in Alaska has different triggers than the central agency in Washington. The breakdown of available experts in certain fields may influence where triggers are perceived as well. Analysis may be different for the VA looking at nurses in facilities throughout the southwest compared to DHS evaluating cybersecurity roles in the Mid-Atlantic.

Why Manual Trigger Identification Doesn’t Work

Most triggers are fairly nuanced and can be influenced at one of several stages of the hiring cycle. Use of Census data can help to identify if there are gaps in the hiring pool itself, but what about the candidates considered within an agency, or the ones that make it from the hiring pool to the final interview process, or who are ultimately hired, or who are promoted into higher tier positions?

The workforce funnel creates multiple possible points at which triggers can exist, and the best way to analyze these stages is with technology designed to gather and analyze large pools of data. 

That’s where EconSys Diversity Analysis tools come in. Designed to provide the framework needed for completing the MD-715 requirements for diversity reporting faster, and providing analysis of those results to identify triggers, EconSys helps make barrier analysis accessible and more actionable for any size agency. Learn more about our approach to MD-715 reporting in our eBook, How to Shift from Data Gathering to Data Driven Decisions in Your MD-715 Reporting:

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