USAGM submits a Federal Agency Annual Equal Employment Opportunity Program Status Report (EEO Program Status Report) in compliance with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Management Directive 715 (MD-715).
Results of USAGM’s annual self-assessment are summarized in the narratives that address EEOC’s Essential Elements A–F of a Model EEO Program below. These six essential elements of MD-715 serve as the foundation upon which USAGM has created and maintained its Model EEO Program.
Essential Element A – Demonstrated Commitment from Agency Leadership
To demonstrate commitment to equal employment opportunity and the prohibition of illegal discrimination and harassment, the Agency issued a Policy Statement on the Prohibition of Harassment, which covers all the protected bases and forms of harassment.
The current policy statements are provided to and discussed with new employees at orientation, given to new managers and supervisors at training sessions, and are made available to employees and job applicants through USAGM’s intranet and public website. Furthermore, EEO training (mandatory courses), programs and events are publicized to all employees through House Announcements sent to employees by email, and are prominently posted on the Agency’s intranet.
The Agency also continues to demonstrate its commitment to EEO, diversity and inclusion by rating senior leadership, managers and supervisors performance annually on their compliance with the Agency’s EEO/diversity policies and principles.
USAGM has an active EEO, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council that meets quarterly and is primarily comprised of senior leadership within the Agency. The purpose of the Council is to: 1) notify leadership and employees of their responsibility to promote EEO, diversity and inclusion in the workplace; 2) provide updates on significant changes to EEO, diversity and inclusion laws, regulations and guidelines; 3) identify barriers to EEO, diversity and inclusion in the workforce; 4) recommend strategies and actions to remove identified or potential barriers; and 5) monitor and evaluate the progress of EEO, diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives.
All new employees are required to complete an orientation, which includes briefings and mandatory training on the Agency’s EEO and anti-harassment policies, diversity and the requirements of the No FEAR Act of 2002.
Essential Element B – Integration of EEO into the Agency’s Strategic Mission
As part of integrating EEO into the strategic mission, Section II(B) of MD-715 instructs agencies to ensure that: 1) it has a reporting structure where the EEO Director has access to the Agency head and senior management, and the EEO Director is a regular participant at senior staff meetings; 2) the EEO office is involved with and consulted on the management and deployment of human resources; 3) sufficient resources are allocated to the EEO program; 4) the EEO office recruits, develops and retains competent staff; 5) it recruits, develops and retains managers and supervisors that have good communication and interpersonal skills, and provides them with the necessary training and resources to carry out their duties and responsibilities; 6) managers and employees are involved in implementing the EEO program; and 7) EEO information regarding federal EEO statutes, regulations, rights, responsibilities, and to promote best practices is distributed and available to the workforce and applicants.
External Communication: EEO programs and events are publicized online. All agency information materials online and in print feature the diversity of the workforce as well as the audiences they engage. In terms of openness and transparency, the Board meetings are routinely webcast, broadcast on the in-house AV systems, and open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Individuals can register to speak to the Board as part of the public comments portion of the agenda. Recordings and associated documents from the Board meetings are available on demand on the public site. The Agency produces an electronic newsletter that is available to the public and employees.
Internal Communication: The Agency publicizes EEO events and activities to all employees through email announcements, notices on the Agency’s intranet, and on display monitors and posters in the halls. Internal all-hands meetings with the Agency leadership were open to all employees, broadcast internally and by private streaming for remote employees.
The Agency has an active Workplace Engagement Initiative (WEI), which is a joint effort by VOA, OCB and USAGM whose role is to address the concerns of employees as reflected in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) annual survey – the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The WEI is overseen by the USAGM Chief of Staff, an USAGM Project Manager, the VOA Chief of Staff, a VOA Program Manager, and a representative from OCB.
Essential Element C – Management and Program Accountability
This element requires agencies to hold managers, supervisors, EEO officials and human resources officers accountable for implementation and management of the EEO program. Senior leadership, managers, supervisors and EEO officials are evaluated annually on their compliance with the Agency’s EEO and diversity policies, and meeting EEO and diversity-related goals and objectives. Leadership and management promote EEO and diversity and implement the Agency’s EEO program by consulting with the EEO Office on applying EEO and diversity principals to their operating procedures and personnel decisions. Senior leadership and management support the EEO program by participating in Special Emphasis Programs and encouraging staff to attend these events.
The Agency’s EEO, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council holds regular meetings, and the members/attendees are informed of these expectations and emphasis was placed on increasing the participation rates for persons with targeted disabilities, Hispanics, females and upward mobility for minority groups. Members and attendees also provide input and recommendations at the meetings based on their observations, challenges and feedback from their staff pertaining to EEO and diversity.
The Agency’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) collaborates with the HR Office to implement EEO and diversity-related goals, objectives, and initiatives. The OCR and HR offices communicate regularly to address HR and EEO issues, including HR management initiatives to improve employee morale, performance management, diversity, reasonable accommodations, upward mobility and training and development.
Additionally, supervisors and managers are strongly encouraged to complete 8 hours of EEO training each year, and all employees, including supervisors and managers, are required to complete refresher EEO, Diversity & Inclusion training at least every two years to ensure they have/maintain the necessary skills to successfully manage and lead a diverse workforce. Senior leadership, managers, and supervisors are also rated annually on their implementation of EEO and diversity-related principles as a critical element in their annual performance evaluations.
Reasonable Accommodation Procedures: The OCR collaborates with the HR Office and management to process requests for reasonable accommodations and provided interim accommodations to employees as needed. The Agency’s reasonable accommodations procedures, which have been approved by EEOC, are posted on the Agency’s intranet and are accessible to applicants on the internet through a web link posted on each vacancy announcement.
The Agency’s reasonable accommodation procedures give OCR primary responsibility for administering the Agency’s reasonable accommodations program. The procedures provide employees with multiple avenues for initiating requests for accommodation and generally give managers authority to approve or disapprove requests for accommodations. The procedures provide flexibility in processing requests for reasonable accommodations; promote timely processing of requests; include an interactive process to assist the Agency and requestor in determining if the request is reasonable and appropriate; and allows the Agency to provide interim accommodations in the event the request cannot be immediately approved/disapproved due to extenuating circumstances.
Essential Element D – Proactive Prevention of Unlawful Discrimination
This element requires agencies to conduct a self-assessment at least annually to: identify barriers and potential barriers to EEO and diversity in the workforce; develop strategic and action plans to eliminate identified barriers; and to assess the progress and effectiveness of the Agency’s strategies and initiatives to remove barriers to EEO and promote diversity in the workforce.
Ensuring that employees are treated with dignity and respect is critical to effective management. Employees are encouraged to discuss concerns with their managers and supervisors. Employees may also raise EEO-related concerns with OCR, and work-related concerns, including EEO related issues, with OHR, the Employee Assistance Program or the unions. The Agency also has an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program, which encourages employees, managers, and supervisors to informally resolve workplace disputes at the lowest level possible.
The USAGM ensures all managers and employees are thoroughly trained on the Agency’s EEO and diversity policies, which prohibit unlawful discrimination and harassment and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Essential Element E – Efficiency in the Federal EEO Process
The Agency has an efficient and fair dispute resolution process and an effective system for evaluating the impact and effectiveness of its EEO and ADR programs. The Agency utilizes an electronic complaint tracking system to track and monitor complaint and ADR activities in accordance with the EEOC Form 462. USAGM also relies on feedback provided by the workforce and its customers to evaluate the effectiveness of the EEO and ADR programs. USAGM encourages employees, supervisors and managers to participate in the Agency’s ADR program or seek other forms of informal dispute resolution offered by USAGM to attempt to resolve complaints at the lowest level possible.
The Agency also has the Office of the Ombudsman, which assists employees, officials and OCR in resolving complaints informally; and has an Employee Assistance Program, which provides a range of services including assessment, counseling and referral services for employees and officials who may be experiencing professional and personal challenges. The Office of the Ombudsman and Employee Assistance Program help many employees and officials address and resolve work and personal issues, which could otherwise escalate into problems or conflicts in the workplace.
To ensure the impartiality of the Agency’s EEO and ADR programs, the Agency’s EEO investigation and adjudication functions are separate from its legal defense component, and agency offices with conflicting and/or competing interests.
Essential Element F – Responsiveness and Legal Compliance
USAGM complies with Orders that were issued by EEOC Administrative Judges. The Agency timely processes EEO complaints, conducted EEO activities and issued reports in accordance with EEOC regulations, directives and policy guidance.