Gov. Tony Evers is looking to bolster agencies' equity and inclusion efforts in his latest executive order, in part by creating additional training requirements for state employees and convening a new advisory council.
The action also directs the agencies to develop their own plans to "build an infrastructure and culture committed to equity and inclusion," consisting of goals, benchmark best practices, expanded professional development opportunities and more.
“I want to make clear that my administration and I are committed to making Wisconsin more equitable, just an inclusive place for everyone,” Evers said before he signed the order, his 59th, at the Hill Farms State Office Building in Madison Tuesday morning.
Evers' directive builds on the his first executive order, issued on his first day in office Jan. 7, requiring state agencies to develop policies banning discrimination against their employees and the people they serve on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
His office stressed the orders aren't duplicates, as the latest aims to take additional steps to foster a more inclusive workplace.
The order is being paired with a new Democratic-backed bill from Milwaukee Sen. Lena Taylor and Madison Rep. Shelia Stubbs that seeks to add five new employees to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, as well as create an advisory committee featuring a designee from each agency and four lawmakers to address inequities.
"Gov. Evers it taking the lead today, he's making sure that we're doing something right now," Stubbs said. "This bill ensures that we will continue to codify it as a statute and then building on what Gov. Evers is calling every agency to do as of today."
Specifically, Evers' directive dictates that the Department of Administration should monitory agencies' equity and inclusion plans, as well as evaluate their affirmative action and equal employment measures. In addition, it calls on the State Council on Affirmative Action to work with the agencies on implementing their equity and inclusion actin plans and facilitating strategies for them to reach diverse candidates.
It also directs the Department of Administration to develop mandatory equity and inclusion training for all state employees, with individuals facing a Dec. 31, 2020, deadline to complete the new training. And it dictates that the governor, lieutenant governor and agency heads attend at least one training or conference a year tied to these topics.
Under the directive's newly created Governor's Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, the body — whose members would be appointed by the governor — would be tasked with advising Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Administration Secretary Joel Brennan on efforts to improve equity and inclusion across the state, per the executive order.