by Susan LaChance

Vice President, Employee Development and Diversity
United States Postal Service (USPS)

The postal service is one of the leading employers of minorities and women. When looking at gender, 40% of our workforce are women. When it comes to race and ethnicity, the Postal Service employs 40% minorities.

With more than 618,000 employees, our diversity does not end there. Like most u.S. businesses in the last two decades, we have dramatically changed the way we define and discuss diversity in the workplace.

Diversity extends beyond gender, race, age, education, disability, religion, sexual orientation, background, and family situations. Our challenge is to build a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.

“Rather than intervention, our goal is prevention. From our top managers down to our frontline supervisors, we make sure they understand the importance of open, one-on-one communication.”

To meet that challenge, last year our Diversity and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) functions were merged into one department, now known as the Office of EEO and Inclusiveness.

Our Office of EEO and Inclusiveness aggressively messages EEO laws and remedies. It also provides timely and cost-effective informal complaint processing and proactive prevention while managing diversity business and inclusive workplace strategies.

Rather than intervention, our goal is prevention. From our top managers down to our frontline supervisors, we make sure they understand the importance of open, one-on-one communication. They also understand that including and engaging employees translates into a more cohesive, productive work environment.

This past year, we focused on proactive prevention initiatives and met with senior leadership to apprise them of how they perform from an EEO perspective. They understand the downside is lost productivity, unscheduled absences, and unnecessary complaints.

For the Postal Service, the key to an inclusive workplace is communication and awareness:

Our highest leadership communicates our organization’s expectation and commitment to have an inclusive workplace.

  • To our employees, the perceived lack of communication is often a key issue when employees seek counseling. as such, we partner with managers and front line supervisors to open the lines of communication and eliminate any perceived barriers or misunderstandings.
  • When a dispute does arise, our counselors engage parties early in the process to determine underlying issues and encourage early case resolution.
  • We educate our employees and managers on everyone’s responsibilities for a harmonious, harassment-free workplace. Training and messaging is tailored to address relevant topics to clarify rights and responsibilities throughout the organization.
  • We established trained, objective fact-finder teams to research allegations of inappropriate behavior, when needed.

These teams provide management an opportunity to employ corrective measures to lessen or prevent hurt feelings and quickly end alleged abuse.

Has it paid off? absolutely, and it continues to deliver dividends. Informal complaints have dropped 8.5%. additionally, over the last several years, we’ve reduced the number of formal complaints through mediation and counseling services.

During the informal process, more than eight out of ten complainants who filed an informal complaint opted for mediation, resulting in a 76.5% resolution rate.