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Rep. West praises survey to examine workforce diversity in state agencies

Renews longstanding Democratic calls for meaningful action to address pay, gender, and racial inequities in the workforce
January 12, 2021
Thomas West News

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today recognized the recent release of the State of Ohio’s first annual survey on workforce diversity within each state agency by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS). DAS is required to release the survey annually under current law because of an amendment West secured to House Bill (HB) 166, which established the 2020-2021 state budget. The survey results indicate the State needs to take close look at gender and racial pay inequity, the racial breakdown of applicants advancing in the next step of hiring process, and inequities in gender participation. West renewed longstanding calls from House Democrats for the State to take meaningful action to address inequities in pay, gender, and race in the workforce. 

“It is critical for us to be informed on how diverse our state’s workforce is and to see how compensation breaks down by race, ethnicity and gender,” said Rep. West. “The annual survey allows us to take stock of how we are doing, celebrate our workforce’s diversity and also examine areas in which we can improve. In the days to come, I will be taking a close look at the results. I look forward to discussions of what policies we can implement to increase equity and celebrate diversity in our workforce.”

The survey shows that, on average, white men earned $33.44 an hour, which is higher than the averages for all nonwhite employees except Asian-American men, Asian-American women and Native American men. Across the board, women made less than their counterparts. These inequities in pay warrant further review and a thorough discussion of policies to mandate pay equity.

Applicant data also demonstrates that Black applicants showed a marked decline in representation from the minimum qualification screening stage to the hiring stage, from about 28.2 percent of applicants to 18.5 percent of hires, while white applicants showed an increase in representation over time, from 58.6 percent of applicants to 71.8 percent of hires. Most other racial groups showed a slight decline, as well.

“The hiring process is certainly an area in which the state must improve,” said West. “The drop-off among Black applicants and applicants from other communities of color requires further attention in order to ensure that representation in our state’s workforce remains constant across the board.”

The survey also shows that in 2020, the state’s workforce was about 74 percent white, 16 percent Black/African-American, 1.6 percent Asian-American, 1.3 percent Hispanic/Latinx, 0.25 percent Native American and 0.04 percent Pacific Islander; the remaining portion was comprised of those who identified as two or more races or ethnicities, or who did not identify their race or ethnicity. According to the most recent population estimates from the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA), Hispanic/Latinx people comprise 3.9 percent of Ohio’s population, and Asian-Americans 3 percent, indicating these communities are currently underrepresented among state employees.

For gender identity, the survey only tracked the number of men and women in the state workforce, and it did not include a non-binary option. 65 employees were listed as “unknown” for their gender identity. Men comprised about 56 percent of the workforce compared to 44 percent for women, despite the fact that women make up about 51 percent of Ohio’s population, with men accounting for about 49 percent. 

View survey results by clicking here