I came across something interesting while perusing some Oregon Transportation Commission meeting materials: the 2012 ODOT Sustainability Progress Report (PDF). The report covers a number of things; from how much paper the agency uses to the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted by their vehicle fleet. But the part that caught my eye was the section titled “Work Force Diversity”. It was an analysis about the demographics of ODOT’s 6,000 or so employees.
Here’s how the report’s authors introduced the section:
ODOT must have a fully skilled, competent and diverse workforce to carry out its mission. As the number of retirements increase, ODOT must recruit employees with diverse backgrounds, retain the expertise of experienced employees, and develop employee skills to meet new challenges to the agency and the transportation system.
That sounds reasonable. Then I saw the statistical breakdown: 63% male, 90% white non-hispanic and 56% over the age of 50.
The report noted that the workforce demographics didn’t change much in 2012; but it did say that, “there are signs of an aging workforce as seen in a decrease in the percentage of employees under 35 years of age, and an increase for those 50 years and older.”
As for racial diversity, the authors pointed out that employee demographics represent just “a piece of the diversity story at ODOT” and that many employees go through “training, conferences, and educational opportunities on diversity and cultural competency.” 351 ODOT employees attended a diversity conference last year and ODOT has an internal course titled, “Building Intercultural Competency” which “aims to improve the ability of ODOT staff to interact effectively with people of different cultures.” 2,673 ODOT staffers have taken the course so far.
The demographics of those who plan, develop and implement our transportation system matters. Age, race, and gender are major topics of discussion in the transportation advocacy world right now. I wonder how the demographics break down at the Portland Bureau of Transportation and other regional transportation agencies.
What do you think about ODOT’s workforce demographics?