IRS’s diversity and inclusion efforts are aimed at encouraging employees to learn about value and be inclusive of all differences—including backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences—and leveraging diversity as a means of accomplishing its mission and serving our customers in more effective, innovative, and collaborative ways.
Our first challenge, however, is that government reporting requirements have led to a focus on race and gender, with little or no focus on other differences or inclusion. Shifting the diversity paradigm to include all of the differences the Service’s employees bring to work would be no small task.
Another challenge was transition—both internal and external. In 2013, IRS experienced significant changes in leadership, programs, and resources. Externally, the nation’s demographic shift greatly changed its customer base while advances in technology rapidly changed the way it needed to operate to meet customer demands.
To address both challenges, IRS created an initiative to serve as a platform to explore the rapid changes in today’s world, and how diversity and inclusion can help the organization be successful. The initiative launched in FY2014 with the theme “Our World is Changing—Are you ready?”
“Our goal was to broaden the discussion on diversity and inclusion beyond just race or gender,” says Elaine Ho, deputy executive director of the IRS office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “Each month, the theme focuses on a particular dimension of diversity, including family structure, personality, abilities, work experience, and generations. We also provide multiple resources related to the monthly focus, such as discussion guides and articles. The resources have been very well received.”
IRS has also added a series of leadership panels and town halls featuring the newly appointed senior leadership team, allowing them to personally articulate how they value diversity and inclusion.