07/26/2013 01:35 pm ET Updated Sep 25, 2013

Smart ways to make federal agencies more inclusive

What is your agency doing to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment?

The Interior Department appears to be moving in the right direction in part by adopting a unique management approach. Each of the agency's eight bureaus - from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the National Park Service - created their own mission-oriented, program-oriented strategies that have translated into measurable progress. In addition, scattered throughout the country in DOI offices are diversity-trained change agents who help to create work places that are open, respectful and tolerant of all people. Top leadership has also made it clear that the focus is not on quotas or getting the numbers right but on improved mission accomplishment through a more engaged and inclusive workforce.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation launched an internal TED-like distinguished speakers series as a forum for inviting notable experts to share their diverse perspectives with employees. Because the series moves away from some of the more traditional diversity-related activities, they have also drawn larger crowds to the conversation.

While hiring talented and diverse workers is an important step in this process, it is not enough. As a federal leader, you also must find ways to create an inclusive work environment that welcomes, supports and makes optimal use of employees from all backgrounds. This includes providing opportunities for growth and advancement. Such efforts not only make common sense, but ultimately will lead to a more satisfied and engaged workforce, and better employee performance. Of course, periodically checking to make sure these goals are being met is also quite important.