Tennessee State Employees Participate in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Listening Session


Staff members at the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) earlier this year documented the results of a Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity listening session they held for nearly 300 state employees.

DHS officials published their report in January.

The Tennessee Star obtained the document, titled Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Listening Session Report, this week.

During their listening sessions, which occurred in November and December of last year, some state employees had to answer the following questions:

• What are your impressions of DHS regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity?

• What do you think may be needed to improve efforts to support diversity, inclusion, and equity at DHS?

• What barriers have you experienced that prevented us to support diversity, inclusion, and equity?

“Conversations varied in groups. Sometimes comments were shared that DHS is on track regarding efforts for diversity, inclusion, and equity,” according to the report.

“Other comments indicated DHS has room for improvement in this area.”

State employees also discussed what they thought the State of Tennessee needed to improve diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts within the DHS. Categories discussed included, among others, a focus on more inclusive language in the workplace, more diverse recruitment teams, and more community outreach. They also discussed what they said were imbalances of race in certain geographical locations, concerns about equity in rural counties, and “cliques that prevent inclusion based on tenure.”

Tennessee State Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) has formally asked Tennessee Department of Human Resources (DOHR) Commissioner Juan Williams to explain this 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.

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].”

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.

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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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3 Thoughts to “Tennessee State Employees Participate in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Listening Session”

  1. Nicky Wicks

    Why are they wasting taxpayer money on this?

  2. 83ragtop50

    Mr. Lee is MIA on this and several other divisive issues. He needs to go – NOW!

  3. JB Taylor

    This diversity and Equity program needs to be stopped immediately.