Tennessee General Assembly Demands Answers from State Agency Over its Diversity and Equity Program


Tennessee State Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) has formally asked Tennessee Department of Human Resources (DOHR) Commissioner Juan Williams to explain the diversity and equity council program he wants state agencies to enforce.

In his letter, Ragan requested that Williams justify his actions — in a timely manner — and explain how much it will cost taxpayers.

Ragan chairs the Tennessee General Assembly’s Government Operations Committee. Committee members meet during the summer to ensure that state government officials do not waste taxpayer money and perform their duties in the most efficient and effective and least costly manner possible.

Ragan told The Tennessee Star Monday that Williams and members of his staff formally acknowledged receiving his letter — but they have yet to formally respond.

“My concerns [about the diversity and equity council] fall into two categories. First, I want to know whether this is an internal policy, only going to affect people inside their department or if it was going to affect people outside their department. My concern there is because I chair the Government Operations Committee. Our TCA Code 4-5-102 lays out guidelines for what’s policy and what has to be rules. So I am trying to get that issue resolved,” Ragan said.

“The second thing of concern to me is I did not see anything related to costs. What is this going to cost us in terms of expenditures of doing training or having meetings or whatever it is they are going to do? That, of course, is related to an issue that goes both ways on both of these things. What state or federal guidelines was this effort in response to?”

DOHR staff did not return a request for comment Monday, and neither did staff for Gov. Bill Lee, who appointed Williams.

Without informing anybody, at least not in a straightforward manner, DOHR officials this year snuck in their diversity and equity council program.

Lee, according to the DOHR’s 2020 Annual Report, told Williams in June of last year “to build a framework for strengthening efforts around the employee experience in our workplace.” But Williams took Lee’s original mandate and apparently distorted it into something else entirely — indoctrinating the DOHR and all other state agencies into woke politics and left-wing Diversity and Equity propaganda.

The annual report said DOHR staff, also in June of last year, “established a statewide framework to sustain Diversity & Equity [D&E].”

“Recent events have highlighted a need to foster an environment in which conversations about race, diversity, and equity are productive and thoughtful parts of the employee experience,” according to the 2020 DOHR Annual Report.

DOHR staff said they wanted to make working for the State of Tennessee “an edifying and equitable experience for all employees who have chosen the calling of public service.”

“As we navigate D&E together, the statewide framework is designed to engage all stakeholders in sustaining diversity and equity now and in the future,” according to the report.

Last October, DOHR officials, according to their annual report, released a Starting the Conversation Guide “to facilitate healthy discussions on diversity and equity.”

The Star obtained another DOHR document that calls for “Diversity and Equity Champions” to connect directly with an Enterprise Diversity and Equity Council and also connect with teams who focus on Leadership Development and Diversity and Equity Strategy. The stated vision: “To ensure working for the State of Tennessee continues to be a fair and equitable experience for every single employee by creating an environment in which employees thrive.”

Each state agency, the DOHR document went on to say, should establish an action plan that, among other things, requires that State of Tennessee employees discuss race and diversity and develop strategies to address inequities. Another part of the plan requires state employees to educate themselves about work-related D&E through conferences, newsletters, and team-building activities.

Sources who are familiar with the situation informed The Star that Lee is now aware of these rogue staff efforts to distort his June 2020 charge to DHR  by inserting “diversity and equity” into his order. Those sources said Lee will directly address the issue with DHR leadership this week.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]







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8 Thoughts to “Tennessee General Assembly Demands Answers from State Agency Over its Diversity and Equity Program”

  1. […] Tennessee General Assembly Demands Answers from State Agency Over its Diversity and Equity Program […]

  2. Questions? Questions? Pink Slips are in order!!!

  3. Dal ANDREW

    We have only until May 29 to submit comments on Biden’s proposed rule: PROPOSED PRIORITIES; AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS EDUCATION. Comments are easily submitted at: http://www.Regulations.gov. That site provides text of the rule, instructions and space for individual comments as well as opportunity to attach/insert reference material/documents.

    Do not be swayed by the meritorious sounding title. When seeking to understand what Critical Race Theory (CRT) is look to the expert for his definition:

    As CRT’s most recognized proponent, Ibram X. Kendi, puts it:

    The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity.
    If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist.
    If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. . . .

    The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.
    The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.
    The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.

  4. M. Flatt

    When “Saint George of Minneapolis” died and we were hearing “The Black Community” singing “Ave Breonna”(Taylor), there was an email sent to State employees about “how we need to have these conversations”. Meanwhile, an intranet site was set up to “start the conversation”. I found the suggestions to be insulting, across the board, treating “black” folks as being no more than children to be coddled, and all other races as being bullies. The State employees in my section are mandated to take Title VI training annually, and we have the “Respectful Workplace” training on a regular basis, as well.
    I made the decision not to volunteer to participate in any non-mandatory meetings. We are already given the expectation to treat co-workers and customers with equality. Anything beyond that is overkill.
    While many of us State employees saw deep cuts to our budgets, losing the possibility of replacing lost workers, It is a slap to the face that such a large amount of money is set aside for the salary for two (unnecessary) directors. To put that in perspective, I could hire four to six college educated clerical personnel for the same amount of money. The fact that it’s a hire based on “Diversity and Equity” just adds insult to injury.

  5. Wolf Woman

    “Diversity” (multiculturalism) and “equity” (equal outcome) are socialist code words. Here comes Marxist Critical Race Theory “experience” which means the bureaucrats will learn skin color and ethnicity (which are good and which are bad) are all you are and all you will ever be.

    Bill Lee appointed a socialist head of Education and a socialist commissioner of Human Resources. I thought the governor was just incompetent. I’m beginning to see a pattern.

  6. Kevin

    “Diversity and Equity” which are two of the tenets of Critical Race Theory! And CRT is just Marxism rebranded! The Left in America wasn’t getting anywhere with their “bourgeois” vs. “proletariat” BS so they had to do something to restart the “revolution”, that they crave!

    In America, the “land of opportunity”, position on the social ladder can easily change through hard work. They needed something that doesn’t or can’t change. Hmmm? Voila! How about the color of a person’s skin? So, they derailed the Civil Rights movement, and now pit dark skin against light skin. And here we are today.

    But they have a serious problem. Americans of all colors are starting to wake up and realize that as MLK stated, people are “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It’s time for Tennessee to take bold action and rid our State of this cancer!

  7. Steve Allen

    CRT is more leftist BS being used to continue to fan the flames that are burning our great nation down. As the democrats were (and still are) the party of Jim Crow and segregation, I think they are the ones who need have this shoved down their throats. Thanks to the chinese government that released the chinese virus on the world, so many nations are struggling to regain some level of normality. Jumping up and down and accusing all white people of being racist is a load of crap and is only making matters worse. I am not a racist and neither is anyone else that I know. So don’t sit there and tell me I need to be taught how evil I am for being born white. The left may have cheated their way into the control of our Nation but your day of reckoning is fast approaching.

  8. Gordon

    Show them the door. No quarter for this mess