According to a new study from the University of Georgia, when governments contract work out to private companies, fewer African American employees are hired.
The research team examined the representation of minorities and women at 16 federal agencies from 2010 to 2016. They analyzed the data for patterns in diversity following high levels of contracting, controlling for variables that have been shown to impact minority employment. The results found that increases in contracting led to decreases in workforce diversity, most noticeably in African American and women participation in top-level positions. Additionally, they found that when diversity is present in the public workplace, it results in increased innovation and productivity, and creates a respectful workplace.
“Traditionally, public sector employment has been an engine for advancing economic progress for women and minorities,” said study author J. Edward Kellough, a professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia. “It has promoted the growth of the minority middle class while providing stability and security for employees.”
The researchers stress that if government contracting is decreasing opportunities for minorities, there could be fewer avenues to economic security for a demographically diverse middle class. They hope that their results will prompt policy makers to consider this racial inequity.