The U. S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has come under scrutiny after it was recently revealed that Blacks are being recruited for jobs and promotional opportunities far less than Whites.

According to Blacks in Government (BIG), a national organization of government employees, of the 56,622 people who work for the department, just 5.6 percent are Black.

The group, in information submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, claims that the DOI experiences more Black departures than new hires, BIG also blames the department’s lack of diversity as a direct result of a “cozy” good-old boys system.

In a 2009 report entitled, “Critical Personnel Issues Affecting Black Employees,” BIG noted that the decline in retention among Black employees has been glaringly obvious.

“Problems with retention can be traced to the perception of a hostile work environment,” the report states. “Among the contributing reasons why Black employees leave the DOI is a strong association with feelings that their contributions are under-valued…Retirement is an exit strategy for some when workplace diversity is seen as weakening and their contributions under-rewarded.”

The federal government seeks a minority employment rate comparable to private industry in the same fields, which would be 9.2 percent for the DOI, according to Black America Web.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has initiated steps to remedy the situation, spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said, but it will take the department’s entire leadership team to fully turn things around.

“Given this reality, is committed to creating an inclusive government,” Rodriguez has said in a statement to Black America Web. “As the most diverse leadership team the department likely has ever had, the leaders are perhaps uniquely able to both appreciate the need for improvement and do something to bring about change.”

Rodriguez said the department may enact some of BIG’s recommendations, as well as include “diversity” as one of the department’s performance criteria.

 

DorothyRowley

AFROStaffWriter