Democrats in Florida Legislature Want to Create Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

With committee weeks continuing in Tallahassee as the Legislature gets ready for the regular session, this week, two Democrats showcased their proposal “to make Florida a national exemplar in reconciling with inequities and historical injustices by creating the executive Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, introduced the proposal in the upper chamber while and state Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, brought out the bill in the House.

“The legislation directs the Office, headed by the Chief Diversity Officer, to coordinate with agencies and create a strategic plan that establishes equity across state government, requires a review of agency policies and programs to assess whether underserved communities have unequal access to benefits and opportunities, calls for increased state investment in underserved communities within the governor’s recommended budget, and requires implicit bias training in Florida’s agencies,” the legislators’ offices noted.

Berman and Davis weighed in on the proposal on Tuesday.

“This bill is a recognition and reflection that America’s history is one of racism and discrimination,” Berman said. “We cannot progress as a multiracial democracy unless we confront that past and understand racism within the power structures of today. Our bill will advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across the services, systems, and operations of our state government. It will set Florida – one of the most diverse states in the nation – on a path of inclusive excellence so every Floridian can reach their full potential.”

“Unfortunately, Florida lags in recognizing that without a strategic plan focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion used in our government agencies, we neglect to address the disparities that exist within recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining practices,” Davis said. “The academic community consistently tells us that producing a diverse workforce is the priority; our goal with this legislation is to build a bridge towards greater inclusiveness and equal opportunity. However, it is imperative to provide equal access to underserved communities by eliminating systematic barriers which remains at the forefront of our agenda.”

The proposal is not expected to gain much traction with the GOP controlling both chambers of the Legislature.

Kevin Derby
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