4
Recommendations: Part One

Creating a more diverse science and engineering work force at ONR is important to its future success, not only because of the demographic changes of the next several decades, but also because of the Navy's need to tap the very best minds from all sources for its research and development efforts. ONR has recognized that diversity is important, but a more focused approach than has been taken to date is necessary. The effort requires a public and repeated commitment from the very highest levels of ONR leadership. It requires strategic interventions in recruitment and hiring, as most ONR managers have already acknowledged, but also in the work environment for current and future employees. Top women and minorities will then be attracted to ONR as a place where the ability to direct an exciting technical program coincides with a supportive and productive environment.

Based on its findings, the committee makes two primary recommendations: to create specific targets for increasing diversity and to appoint an external group to monitor progress. In addition, a series of suggestions are provided for implementation of these recommendations in the areas of recruitment and hiring and employee development and climate. These suggestions focus primarily on process. The distinction between the primary recommendations and the suggestions for implementation is important; many well-intentioned changes to process can be made without any substantial change in the end result. The committee encourages ONR, in considering these recommendations, to focus on the primary goal of hiring and keeping more minorities and women and not to be content with simply making good faith efforts.

Although the proportion of underrepresented scientists and engineers in the general population is small, such individuals do exist, and their numbers are increasing. Other organizations have succeeded in increasing diversity, and much can be learned from their experiences. ONR has its finger on the pulse of American research and development through its almost 5,400 principal investigators, and they can and should be recruited into this effort. The committee urges ONR to approach this challenge as it would any other: to do the hard thinking, to develop the plan, to dedicate the resources, and to follow through until it is completed. There is no question that an organization with the history, credentials, and reputation for excellence of the Office of Naval Research can accomplish this task.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 61
4 Recommendations: Part One Creating a more diverse science and engineering work force at ONR is important to its future success, not only because of the demographic changes of the next several decades, but also because of the Navy's need to tap the very best minds from all sources for its research and development efforts. ONR has recognized that diversity is important, but a more focused approach than has been taken to date is necessary. The effort requires a public and repeated commitment from the very highest levels of ONR leadership. It requires strategic interventions in recruitment and hiring, as most ONR managers have already acknowledged, but also in the work environment for current and future employees. Top women and minorities will then be attracted to ONR as a place where the ability to direct an exciting technical program coincides with a supportive and productive environment. Based on its findings, the committee makes two primary recommendations: to create specific targets for increasing diversity and to appoint an external group to monitor progress. In addition, a series of suggestions are provided for implementation of these recommendations in the areas of recruitment and hiring and employee development and climate. These suggestions focus primarily on process. The distinction between the primary recommendations and the suggestions for implementation is important; many well-intentioned changes to process can be made without any substantial change in the end result. The committee encourages ONR, in considering these recommendations, to focus on the primary goal of hiring and keeping more minorities and women and not to be content with simply making good faith efforts. Although the proportion of underrepresented scientists and engineers in the general population is small, such individuals do exist, and their numbers are increasing. Other organizations have succeeded in increasing diversity, and much can be learned from their experiences. ONR has its finger on the pulse of American research and development through its almost 5,400 principal investigators, and they can and should be recruited into this effort. The committee urges ONR to approach this challenge as it would any other: to do the hard thinking, to develop the plan, to dedicate the resources, and to follow through until it is completed. There is no question that an organization with the history, credentials, and reputation for excellence of the Office of Naval Research can accomplish this task.

OCR for page 61
Primary Recommendations RECOMMENDATION #1 The Chief of Naval Research should assume the responsibility to develop specific, numerical targets for the hiring of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities into science and engineering positions at ONR. These targets should be based on a periodic assessment of the underutilization of qualified individuals from these groups, using data from national pools. The effort should include communicating regularly to ONR personnel the importance of diversity and of meeting these targets. The targets should cover senior executive positions as well as those at the GS 13-15 levels. They should be based on ONR's staffing needs, the current pool of qualified underrepresented personnel available in the relevant fields, projected turnover, and other budget and personnel constraints. Managers would then be held accountable for meeting appropriate targets in their areas based on demonstrated underutilization, and their success would be reflected in performance reviews, salary increases, cash awards, and promotions. Targets should be reviewed periodically and readjusted based on changes in the ONR work force and the most recent available data on underutilization from the national pools. The pools of qualified personnel can be determined by special tabulations from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients and the National Survey of College Graduates tailored to ONR's work force needs, as has been done with the national pools of scientists and engineers described in this report. Target levels for increased diversity should be developed in conjunction with formal plans for future personnel needs. Sometimes called "succession planning" or "people planning," each department head should develop a personnel management plan to include identifying who might succeed the current incumbents in the department, how to trade or share employees among divisions, and how to bring more minorities and women with the necessary background and interests to work at ONR. RECOMMENDATION #2 The Chief of Naval Research should appoint an external committee composed of individuals who are experienced in the management of science and engineering and sensitive to the issues of diversity to assist ONR in achieving its diversity goals. Reporting to the Chief of Naval Research, the committee would meet periodically to review the targets ONR has set and to evaluate progress against those goals. The external committee would be different from the Boards of Visitors, which ONR convenes to evaluate divisions and research programs, in that it would be charged with the issue of diversity only and would review the Science and Technology Directorate at ONR. The committee would consist of science and engineering managers from business, academia, and government, and especially from organizations with a strong record of accomplishment in diversity. It would include individuals knowledgeable about ONR's mission and

OCR for page 61
would have representation from underrepresented groups. Suggestions for Implementation The recommendations in this section outline specific steps which ONR can take to help implement the diversity targets described above. They are not ends in themselves but means to an end. This section is not intended to include an exhaustive list but to provide examples of the types of initiatives that can help ONR meet its needs. The suggestions cover two areas: (1) recruitment and hiring and (2) the work environment; both are critical to creating and sustaining diversity in the work force. RECOMMENDATION #3 ONR should expand its recruitment efforts and improve the hiring process to increase the likelihood that members of the target groups will learn about positions at ONR, will apply, and will be given serious consideration. Advertising and Recruitment Educate the at-large scientific and engineering community, and especially underrepresented scientists and engineers, about the advantages of working for ONR. Provide information on opportunities to carry out research and engage in joint activities with universities or industrial organizations. Discuss ONR's commitment to diversity and the changes under way to create a work environment supportive of women and minorities. Where possible, send women and minority scientists and engineers from ONR and NRL to speak in universities and at professional meetings as role models for students and faculty and to reward those employees for their extra efforts. Develop contacts with professional organizations of underrepresented scientists and engineers. Establish ongoing relationships with individuals, foundations, and societies that truly have expertise in where to locate women and ethnic minority scientists and engineers in each field. Advertising in journals is not enough (and indeed may not be at all effective) when seeking scientists and engineers from the targeted populations. Use the minorities and women already on the staff at ONR to identify places in which to advertise and especially people to contact. Advertise nationally and recruit outside the Navy. The work of ONR is national in scope, and its S&E work force should be drawn from a national pool. Underrepresented Ph.D. scientists and engineers are located overwhelmingly (75 percent) in universities and industry, not in the federal government. They are also located across the country, not just in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. Recruitment actions that are limited to individuals in that region or to those who already work in the Navy or in the federal government are less likely to accomplish ONR's diversity goals. If experience in the Navy is deemed

OCR for page 61
important, ONR should create ways to provide that experience after hiring. Giving new employees Navy assignments at the beginning of their tenure or putting them through an orientation program, supplemented by visits to Navy installations, are possible ways to accomplish this objective. Recruit women and minorities more actively from within the Navy's associated laboratories and other facilities. This approach allows ONR to hire personnel with Navy experience, to the extent that underrepresented scientists and engineers are employed in these facilities. There are, for example, 170 female scientists and engineers at NRL, of whom 10 are at the GS 15 or senior executive level. There are also 44 scientists and engineers at NRL who are members of minority groups, with 5 at the GS 15 or senior executive level. In addition, individuals who receive Postdoctoral Research, Young Investigator, or Women Science Scholar awards through ONR's corporate programs are strong potential candidates for program officer positions, given their postdoctoral education and experience with ONR (see Recommendation #6 in Chapter 6). Encourage and assist the Navy laboratories to recruit more actively from targeted groups. Many of the same mechanisms recommended here for ONR could be used by the laboratories. This will help improve the diversity in other parts of the Navy's R&D enterprise and increase the potential pool of future ONR employees. ONR should assume the obligation of assisting Navy laboratories in general, and NRL in particular, in increasing diversity, which, in turn, would be to the interest of all parties. Taking on such an external commitment will not only be important for the Navy, but it will focus ONR's attention on its own diversity needs and options. Make particular efforts to recruit women and ethnic minority scientists actively for senior executive positions. If diversification occurs at the top level (senior executive positions), it will send a signal to the lower ranks and to the outside community that ONR is committed to diversity. The IPA vehicle can be used to bring individuals into ONR for short-term assignments, similar to what NSF does in its Rotational Programs for Scientists, Engineers, and Educators. ONR could also recruit faculty members to spend their sabbaticals at headquarters or to develop 3-5 year partnership programs with academia or industry. In the same vein, the IPA program can be used to give senior executives opportunities to work in another organization outside the government. It may be useful to arrange assignments in a Navy laboratory for one to two years, especially for new ONR employees who lack adequate Navy experience. Hiring Process Broaden job descriptions and selection criteria to eliminate unnecessary restrictions. Job descriptions that are very narrowly defined often discourage candidates, especially minorities and women, who are well qualified but may be lacking in

OCR for page 61
one specific but less critical area that can be acquired later. Such job descriptions may also send the message that the desired candidate has already been identified and that the application process is a waste of the potential applicant's time. Similarly, applicants with high potential without the exact requirements in the job description may be eliminated early in the selection process without having been given an opportunity to demonstrate their ability. One way to avoid this loss is to invite a larger number of minority and female candidates to participate in interviews. Broaden and diversify the decision-making process. A critical group in ONR's current hiring process is the rating and review panel. All rating and review panels should include women and minorities either drawn from the ONR work force or invited from elsewhere in the Navy, industry, or academia. The Selecting Official should interview an appreciable number of qualified candidates, including members of underrepresented groups, so long as ''token'' interviews are avoided. Finalists should make presentations to a broader group of ONR scientists and engineers, not just to the STAB, in order to obtain feedback from a larger group, to promote a less adversarial setting for interviews, and to establish broader knowledge about the hiring process. Finally, before approving the hiring of any individual, the Deputy Chief of Naval Research should be provided with evidence that a sufficient effort has been made at each step in the hiring process to recruit and hire a member of the target group. Some of that evidence would consist of documenting actions recommended here. Set aside modest discretionary funds to assist in the hiring of candidates with especially high potential. Although the committee does not recommend the regular use of hiring bonuses, discretionary funds might be used in rare eases to provide recruitment or relocation bonuses or to meet other needs of highly recruited candidates, especially for senior executive positions. These funds would enable ONR to compete more effectively for outstanding female and minority applicants who are also being recruited elsewhere. RECOMMENDATION #4 ONR should improve the work environment to increase productivity, enhance employee development, and establish ONR as a place where women and minorities want to work. Work Environment Promote diversity on a continuous basis in ways which are visible to the entire work force. This includes publishing diversity targets and regular discussion of diversity in oral and written communications from the Chief and Deputy Chief of Naval Research and the department heads. It could also include special recognition for managers who have made significant strides in increasing diversity in their units, as well as showcasing the accomplishments

OCR for page 61
of female and minority scientists and engineers. Another way to promote diversity is to include more women and minorities on the Boards of Visitors and other oversight bodies. Create mechanisms for periodically assessing employees' needs and concerns. Conduct a Work Place Climate Survey of employees every two years, as is done, for example, at the Xerox Corporation, and hold managers responsible for the work climate in their unit. At Xerox, managers' performance reviews and salary increases are affected by the survey's results. In addition, ONR leadership should spend more time talking to the staff. Several program officers, in their interviews, recommended that the top management talk more often with those below them. This might be done through informal breakfast meetings or coffee with groups of program officers. The purpose of the meetings would be for senior managers to listen to program officers' ideas and concerns, to answer questions, and to get their feedback on ONR policies and directions. Institute changes that will help all employees be more productive by providing greater flexibility for the individual. Such changes might include the creation of flextime and flexiplace policies, to the extent that the technology will support them. It could also include increased options for part-time work or job sharing. Many employers also help to accommodate for the extra demands placed on single parents or dual-career couples through programs of parental or family leave. Foster a less adversarial or confrontational style of communicating, especially in interviews with job candidates. As the work force at ONR becomes more diverse, the committee expects that a natural consequence will be the evolution to a less adversarial style and one that is more conducive to variety and creativity. In the meantime, this process could be accelerated by some amelioration of the current style. An adversarial approach is especially counterproductive, in the committee's view, in the hiring and interview process. Once hired, program officers who need help in making forceful and articulate briefings or budget presentations should receive special training in those skills. Many corporations and federal agencies, for example, prepare congressional witnesses by holding friendly "murder boards" where high-level managers, including the director, try to anticipate the "hostile" questions and help the individuals formulate their answers. Collect more detailed information on employee departures and attrition rates. Although ONR does track employee departures, including the general reason for leaving, additional information should be collected. Data on attrition rates should be calculated and reported to ONR leadership annually, including data by race, gender, and disability. Also, confidential exit interviews should be conducted with all departing employees to determine if there are aspects of the job or work environment that could be improved.

OCR for page 61
Employee Development Create a "personal development plan" for each staff member. This plan would be worked out between the staff member and management. It should cover at least five years and address (1) training needs, (2) plans to correct perceived deficiencies in performance, (3) possible rotational assignments in and out of ONR, and (4) potential promotion paths, where available. In the case of senior executives, the plans should be used to promote new opportunities and greater turnover through assignments to other Navy facilities or government agencies or IPA's to work in industry or universities, as well as to identify incentives for early retirement, when appropriate. In the case of employees with master's degrees, the plans might include leave or a reduced work load to pursue a Ph.D. Provide opportunities for advancement for women and underrepresented minorities. Given the absence of women at the senior executive level, particular effort should be made to identify experienced female program officers for promotion, especially into the senior executive ranks. Other opportunities for advancement include appointing women and underrepresented minorities as acting heads of divisions or departments, inviting them to make formal presentations and briefings, making the Research Opportunities for Program Officers (ROPO) program available to applied scientists, facilitating both permanent and temporary internal job rotation, and encouraging the pursuit of advanced education and training. To the extent that detailees and IPA's are seen as likely candidates for ONR permanent positions, they should be given opportunities for greater visibility and responsibility as well. Establish a formal coaching program. The committee prefers this term to "mentoring" because the latter sometimes implies one high-level person grooming an individual to fill a specific career track. "Coaching" is usually done by people at various levels—generally not by one's supervisor—and does not need to have a specific career goal in mind. Coaching works best when it is informal. However, not all employees have access to individuals willing to coach them, and not everyone is good at coaching. Training on how to ask for help and how to be a good coach can be helpful. In the meantime, though, a formal pairing of employees with "coaches'' other than their supervisors can serve as a start on more natural, informal contacts. This should help improve communication both upwards and downwards and reduce the sense of isolation many program officers mentioned in their interviews. ONR's pilot Mentor Program is a good start in this direction. Provide task-specific training for program officers as well as for senior executives. The usual purpose of diversity training is to teach employees how to get along better and work more productively with a diverse population of colleagues. In the case of ONR, however, there may not be enough racial and gender diversity yet to make this useful. Also, if done poorly, such training can be counterproductive,

OCR for page 61
setting groups off against each other and reinforcing existing prejudices. A training program that evolves as the organization becomes more diverse and that is task-specific, however, can be very helpful. Managers responsible for recruitment and hiring, for example, could attend workshops on how to advertise for and recruit a more diverse applicant pool and on interview techniques. Program officers could receive training in assertiveness, negotiation, and public speaking in order to increase their effectiveness in program briefings and budget presentations. Establish performance reviews that reward supervisors for gains made in diversity. Use success in this area as one factor in performance ratings and in awarding salary increases and cash bonuses. "Success" would include gains in hiring and promotion within the ONR S&E work force as well as in efforts to increase the pool of potential future ONR employees. Individuals should be asked to prepare a separate, one-page statement of what they have done in the previous year to help enhance diversity in the ONR S&E work force.