Northam announces 1st nationwide strategic plan to advance diversity, equity, inclusion in Virginia

Richmond

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens as he prepares to speak to a group of volunteers to distribute supplies at health equity community event Tuesday May 12, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday the first-in-the-nation strategic plan to advance visible diversity, equity, and inclusion across state government.

ONE Virginia is a strategic blueprint that provides a foundation for Virginia to operationalize equity across state government and promote inclusive practices while focusing on reducing inequities.

“To truly move forward as a Commonwealth, we must prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion as our collective goals,” said Northam.

Officials say that for the past year, the administration has engaged community members and experts while developing the plan.

“This roadmap will ensure our efforts are accompanied by accountability, measurable results, and sustained impact, and help make Virginia the best place to live, work, visit, and thrive,” Northam said.

Dr. Janice Underwood, who was appointed in 2019 by Northam to serve as Virginia’s first cabinet-level chief diversity officer, said, “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than a moral imperative or a legal mandate—they are key to achieving organizational excellence.”

“Together we are charting a new path for our Commonwealth, one that values our diverse people as our greatest strength. Using the Inclusive Excellence framework, ONE Virginia will help implement tangible reforms that interrupt long-held systems of structural inequity to create sustainable change, innovation, and productivity across state government, throughout Virginia, and around our country,” she continued.

ONE Virginia will support more than 100 state agencies in prioritizing and implementing strategies to provide fair and equitable services and cultivate a valued and high-performing workforce, according to the governor’s office.

The program is designed to help those in leadership roles with understanding systemic inequality and the effects it has as well as how to foster the skills needed to provide an inclusive and welcoming organization.

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