Identifying and Combating Bias in TANF-Funded Employment Services
- Both structural and individual biases can influence the employment services provided by TANF programs and the interactions between staff and participants.
- Individual biases held by program staff interacting with participants can perpetuate stereotypes of certain groups of individuals and lead to lower employment outcomes for the participant.
- Systemic factors such as occupational segregation and labor market inequities can unintentionally steer TANF staff and participants towards jobs or educational pathways based on the participants background, such as race and gender.
- Recognizing how these factors can negatively impact employment services interactions and knowing where these individual biases lie are important steps in working toward producing more equitable employment outcomes for TANF participants that offer long-term and stable economic growth.
This brief describes how both individual and structural biases can influence the employment services provided by TANF programs and the interactions between employment services staff and participants. The brief also provides concrete strategies that individual staff members providing employment services and TANF program leaders can adopt and implement to combat biases at an organizational and individual level when working with participants.
One goal of TANF employment services is to improve equitable and stable employment outcomes for job seekers. However, employment services driven by biased service delivery approaches might exacerbate and reinforce existing disparities within the labor market.
This brief provides strategies that staff members can use while working with TANF participants to increase equitable access to employment opportunities. Additionally, the brief describes strategies that TANF program leaders can use to combat biases at an organizational level.