Galvin starts collecting diversity data on staff – and numbers are high

Secretary of State's inaction in past may run afoul of federal regulations

FOR YEARS, Secretary of State William Galvin ignored requests for diversity data on his staff, saying he didn’t collect the information.

But this year, facing a primary challenge from Tanisha Sullivan, the head of the Boston office of the NAACP, he changed course. At a debate on GBH on August 10, where his past refusal to collect the data came up, Galvin revealed that he now had diversity data for his staff and promised to release the information the next day.

It turns out the numbers, which Galvin’s office began collecting in June, are relatively high.

Galvin spokeswoman Debra O’Malley said in an email that 186 of the office’s 266 employees responded to a survey seeking the information. Of the 186 responders, 64, or 34 percent, are minorities. The breakdown is 16 percent Black, 11 percent Asian, 5 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Native American, and 1 percent Pacific Islander.

The secretary of state’s office is relatively small, but on a percentage basis the office’s overall minority number compares favorably to the state’s overall population, which is 29 percent minority, according to calculations by the UMass Donahue Institute. The secretary of state’s minority percentage number is also higher than those of the offices of Attorney General Maura Healey (24 percent) and Gov. Charlie Baker (17 percent).

It’s unclear why Galvin didn’t collect diversity data on his staff previously.

Federal law requires the submission of diversity data by state and local government to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) every two years. Federal regulations also require most government entities to gather diversity data.

“We haven’t previously submitted data because, as you are aware, we didn’t have the data to provide,” O’Malley said in an email. “Moving forward, we expect to be able to provide that information when surveyed.”

But when pressed on why Galvin chose not to comply with the federal reporting requirement, O’Malley said she had been able to confirm with legal counsel that the secretary of state’s office “is not the reporting entity for that data under the law.”

Initially, O’Malley said the state comptroller was the reporting entity, but then retracted that and said the state’s human resource office was. A spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office said her agency does not submit diversity data to the EEOC, and the human resources department only submits the data for the executive branch under the control of the governor.

The attorney general’s office, which, like the secretary of state’s office, is one of the state’s five constitutional offices, said it files its diversity data directly with the EEOC.

Officials at the EEOC declined to say whether the secretary of state should be filing diversity data with the office. They also did not say whether there are penalties for noncompliance.

The other point of controversy with Galvin’s diversity data is that the secretary of state’s office includes in its survey the 30 to 40 private contractors who work in the office. The survey was anonymized so it’s unclear how many of the consultants responded.

O’Malley, Galvin’s spokeswoman, insisted the contractors should be included.

“They [the contractors] are people who work in our office every day and they are simply classified as contract workers instead of at-will employees,” she said. “Any numbers that excluded these workers give an inaccurate representation of the people who work in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. . . . The primary difference between them and other employees is the manner in which they are paid.”

Officials with the attorney general’s office said contractors are included in the office’s diversity numbers.

Sullivan issued a fairly broad statement about Galvin’s diversity numbers and his failure to release them in the past. “The response from Secretary Galvin’s office regarding staff diversity is not acceptable. Indeed, it raises more serious questions than answers about compliance with federal and state laws around how workers are classified,” Sullivan said. “The real question is, what is Bill Galvin hiding?”

Sullivan did not respond to repeated requests for a breakdown of the diversity of her campaign staff.