Baker’s ‘streamlined’ diversity disclosures

Overall numbers are good, but no breakdown for his office

Gov. Charlie Baker is doing slightly better than his predecessor in recruiting blacks, Hispanics, and Asians to work in the executive branch, but the way his administration goes about presenting demographic data makes it impossible to learn how individual agencies are faring, including his own office.

A recent report from the state Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity indicates 28 percent of the 42,656 workers in the executive branch in fiscal 2016 – the first full year Baker was in office – were minorities, of which blacks represented 17 percent, Hispanics 7 percent, and Asians 4 percent.

In 2014, under former governor Deval Patrick, 26 percent of the 45,728 executive branch workers were minorities, with 16 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent Asian. The target for minority employees in both years was 20.7 percent.

Baker differs from his predecessors in the amount of information he releases on offices within the executive branch. For example, he releases no information at all on minority hiring in his own office. By contrast, Patrick reported that his 60-person office was 20.3 percent minority at the end of his second term in 2014, up from 5.1 percent under former governor Mitt Romney. The percentage of blacks under Patrick was 7.8 percent, more than twice the level under Romney.

For each of the eight executive offices that make up the executive branch, the 2016 state report provides only the percentage of minority employees, with no breakdown on how many are black, Hispanic, or Asian. For agencies within the various executive offices, no information is provided at all.

For example, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security was 13.2 percent minority in the 2016 report. The report provided no  breakdown within the minority category. For agencies within the public safety office, no minority information was provided at all.

By contrast, Patrick provided the racial makeup of each of the eight executive offices and all of the agencies within each executive office. The 2014 report indicated the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security was 13 percent minority and provided a breakdown of each minority group. The same information was supplied for each agency within the executive office. The Department of State Police, for example, was 9.6 percent minority. The Department of Correction was 14.5 percent minority.

Patrick also provided data on the racial and gender makeup of employees by job categories, new hires, and voluntary and involuntary terminations. Baker’s 2016 report doesn’t provide that information.

Sandra Borders, the director of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity under Baker as well as Patrick and Romney, said the Baker administration is reporting the information differently because it wanted to present data at a higher level and “streamline the report.”

Asked if she could provide the 2016 data with the same detail as found in past reports, she said she had the information but could not provide it. “I do not have the ability to send the FY2016 report with the same level of detail as the FY2014 report,” she said in an email.

Baker’s press office did not respond to follow-up requests for a more in-depth explanation of why data on the state workforce is being reported differently.

Thomas Saltonstall, who headed the Boston office of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1980s, said the Baker administration needs to provide more data.

“The current report is meaningless, given the patterns we’ve historically seen where people of color are over-concentrated at the bottom of the income ladder and totally underrepresented at the top,” he said. “The administration should be breaking the data out by job category and racial and ethnic categories to serve as a basis for achieving fairness in the Commonwealth’s workforce.”

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Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said more transparent diversity data is helpful to advocates as they press for action on hiring.

“If I’m an Asian, for example, and I want to be advocating for hiring and promoting more Asians in the executive branch, then I would want to know what’s my baseline,” he said. “But when you do it in a lumped-up fashion, you don’t have a legitimate baseline to compare one administration against another in terms of their track record on effective diversity hiring, retention, and promotion.”