Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 592: Advancing Workforce Diversity, Inclusion, Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Affirmative Action

Date: 10/22/2020
Issuer: Governor Charlie Baker
Mass Register: No. 1430
Revoking and Superseding: Executive Order 526

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is based on a belief in freedom and equality for all individuals and the duty of Government to safeguard and foster these rights;

WHEREAS, the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes the importance of non-discrimination, diversity, workforce inclusion, and equal opportunity in all aspects of state employment and its programs, policies, and activities;

WHEREAS, the Executive Branch has an obligation to lead by example and to support a culture of inclusion that values and promotes diversity and equal opportunity for all persons;

WHEREAS, creating greater accountability and shared responsibility for achieving diversity and inclusion goals at all levels of the Executive Branch will promote steady and sustainable progress;

WHEREAS, effective strategic diversity management practices enhance employee productivity, nurture the development of employees at all levels, and strengthen the Commonwealth’s ability to deliver excellent customer service to an array of diverse residents, businesses, and other stakeholders;

WHEREAS, the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth holds its employees to the requirements of state and federal non-discrimination laws and to the standards established by the Commonwealth’s policies, in order to maintain a workplace free from discrimination;

WHEREAS, while acknowledging the many efforts and accomplishments of the past, the Commonwealth can and must do more to ensure that non-discrimination, diversity, and equal opportunity are safeguarded, promoted, and reflected in state workplaces, programs, services, policies, activities, decisions, and contracts; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § I, Art. I, do hereby revoke Executive Order No. 526 and order as follows:

Section 1. This Executive Order shall apply to all state agencies in the Executive Branch, as defined below. As used in this Order, the following words shall have the following meanings:


  1. Conduct in violation of state or federal non-discrimination laws;
  2. Unfair treatment because of an individual’s membership in a protected class under state or federal non-discrimination law; or
  3. Unfavorable treatment of an individual as compared to others similarly situated with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the individual is a member of a class protected by law. Discrimination may involve, but is not limited to:
    1. Harassment, by creating, or allowing to exist, an environment hostile to an individual’s membership in a protected class;
    2. Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an individual’s disability; or
    3. Pursuing a practice or policy, which, while it appears neutral on its face, has a disproportionate and unfavorable impact on individuals who are members of a protected class.

 “State agencies”, all executive offices, boards, commissions, agencies, departments, divisions, councils, bureaus, and offices, now existing and hereafter established. 

Section 2. Non-discrimination, diversity, and equal opportunity shall be the policy of the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in all aspects of state employment, programs, services, policies, activities, and decisions. Each executive officer and agency head serving under the Governor and all state employees shall take immediate, affirmative steps to ensure compliance with this policy and with applicable state and federal laws in connection with both the internal operations of state government as well as external relations with the public, including those persons and organizations doing business with the Commonwealth. Each agency, in discharging its duties, shall consider the likely effects that its programs, services, policies, activities, and decisions will have on achieving non-discrimination, diversity, and equal opportunity.

Section 3. All state agencies shall develop and implement affirmative action and diversity plans to identify and eliminate barriers in the workplace which are discriminatory in intent or effect; remedy the effects of past discriminatory practices; identify, recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain employees who are members of under-represented groups; and ensure diversity and equal opportunity in all facets, terms, and conditions of state employment. Such plans shall set forth specific goals and timetables for achievement of these goals, shall comply with all applicable state and federal laws, and shall be updated, at a minimum, every two years.

Section 4. All programs, policies, activities, and services provided, performed, licensed, chartered, funded, regulated, or contracted for by the state shall be conducted without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, religion, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, veteran’s status (including Vietnam-era veterans), or background. Equal opportunity and diversity shall be protected and affirmatively promoted in all state, state-assisted, and state-regulated programs, policies, activities, and services. Non-compliance shall subject violators to such disciplinary or remedial actions as permitted by law. This provision applies, but is not limited to, the use and operation of facilities owned, leased, funded, or subject to control by the Commonwealth; the sale, lease, rental, financing, construction, or development of housing; state-licensed or chartered health care facilities, educational institutions, and businesses; education, counseling, and training programs; and public schools.

Section 5. All Executive Branch contracts entered into after the effective date of this Order shall contain provisions prohibiting contractors and subcontractors from engaging in discriminatory employment practices, either by intent or effect; requiring contractors to certify that they are in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations governing fair labor and employment practices; and requiring contractors to commit to purchasing supplies and services from certified minority or women-owned businesses, small businesses, or businesses owned by socially or economically disadvantaged persons, veterans (including Vietnam-era veterans), persons with disabilities, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons. Such provisions shall be drafted in consultation with the Office of the Comptroller, the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (“ODEO”), and the Operational Services Division, which shall develop and implement uniform language to be incorporated into all Executive Branch contracts. The provisions shall be enforced through the contracting agency, the Operational Services Division, and/or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”). Any breach shall be regarded as a material breach of the contract that may subject the contractor to sanctions up to and including termination of the contract.

Section 6. All state agencies shall exclude from any forms requesting information any item or inquiry expressing or soliciting specifications as to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, or disability, unless the item or inquiry is expressly required by statute or is deemed by the MCAD, the Massachusetts Office on Disability, the Human Resources Division, or the ODEO to be a bona fide qualification or otherwise required in good faith for a proper purpose. State agencies shall protect the security and confidentiality of any such personal information in their possession.

Section 7. The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (“ODEO”), as established within the Human Resources Division of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with this Executive Order and with all applicable state and federal laws. ODEO shall have a Chief Diversity Officer (the “CDO”), who shall be selected by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The CDO shall report operationally to the Commonwealth’s Chief Human Resources Officer with direct access to the Governor and shall submit periodic written reports to the Governor. The CDO shall have the authority to:

  • Develop strategic goals for diversity and inclusion for the Executive Branch, aligned with the administration’s overall diversity vision;
  • Oversee compliance with applicable state and federal non-discrimination laws;
  • Ensure a strategic approach to acquiring and developing a diverse workforce that meets the needs of the diverse constituents of the Commonwealth through collaboration with key stakeholders;
  • Ensure that diversity is reflected in all levels of state government;
  • Establish guidelines for agency affirmative action and diversity plans (“plans”);
  • Review all such plans and either approve, return for amendment, or reject them;
  • Establish periodic reporting requirements for agencies concerning the implementation of their plans and all actions taken to ensure compliance with this Executive Order and applicable state and federal laws;
  • Provide assistance to agencies in achieving compliance with their plans and with applicable state and federal laws;
  • Monitor and assess the status of agency compliance and receive such information deemed appropriate for purposes of monitoring compliance;
  • Investigate instances of non-compliance with plan submission and reporting requirements and, where appropriate, determine and impose remedial courses of action, including the suspension of a non-compliant agency’s authority to post a new position or the imposition of a freeze on all personnel requisitions and appointment forms submitted by any non-compliant agency to the Chief Human Resources Officer;
  • Oversee and resolve appeals of denied employee reasonable accommodation requests; and
  • Manage Secretariat Diversity Directors to ensure impactful plans are being executed to foster an engaged and diverse workforce.

Section 8. The CDO shall provide support and guidance to each Secretary and agency head in the appointment of skilled and qualified Diversity Directors and Diversity Officers. Each Secretariat shall appoint a Diversity Director who shall have a direct reporting relationship to the Secretary and to the CDO. Several Diversity Officers shall be appointed by each Secretary to assist each Diversity Director in executing the duties under this Executive Order. Each Diversity Officer shall report to their agency head and provide civil rights, equal opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity and inclusion services and shall coordinate these services through their respective Secretariats and agencies in compliance with the requirements of this Executive Order and applicable state and federal  laws. The responsibilities of the Diversity Directors and Diversity Officers shall include, but not be limited to:

  • Providing strategic and expert leadership on civil rights, affirmative action, and diversity and inclusion matters;
  • Monitoring compliance with applicable state and federal laws at Secretariat and agency levels;
  • Providing effective leadership in the development, implementation, and monitoring of plans for their Secretariat or agency;
  • Preparing periodic reports which identify accomplishments and detail progress towards affirmative action and diversity goals;
  • Collaborating with the Investigations Center of Expertise on discrimination complaints, as established in Section 11, below;
  • Managing relationships with key stakeholders to ensure the principles of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity and inclusion are demonstrated in every facet of employment, with a keen focus on hiring and promotions;
  • Collaborating with Secretaries, agency heads, Executive Directors, Chiefs of Staff, Chief Financial Officers, Secretariat Human Resources Officers, and Human Resources Business Partners on the allocation of resources to carry out the mandates of this Executive Order; and
  • Coordinating and overseeing the reasonable accommodations process.

Section 9. The Massachusetts Office on Disability (“MOD”), through its Director, shall be responsible for advising, overseeing and coordinating compliance with state and federal laws protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, including but not limited to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§12131-12134; Section 504 (“504”) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794; Article CXIV of the Massachusetts Constitution; and Chapter 6, §§ 185-87; Chapter 93, § 103; Chapter 151B; and Chapter 272, §§ 92, 98, and 98A of the Massachusetts General Laws. MOD shall serve as the Executive Branch’s designated ADA and Rehabilitation Act Coordinator, and shall provide information, training, and technical assistance and promulgate guidelines reflecting best practices, policies, and procedures concerning persons with disabilities. Each agency shall appoint an ADA/504 Coordinator who shall report directly to the agency head and work with MOD concerning issues involving persons with disabilities. Notification of such appointment shall be made to MOD’s Director. MOD’s Director shall partner with the CDO to ensure that each ADA/504 Coordinator has authority to access all material agency files. 

Section 10. Pursuant to guidelines established by ODEO and MOD, all agency heads, managers, supervisors, and employees shall attend mandatory diversity training within six months of hire.

Section 11. There shall be established within the Human Resources Division of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance an Investigations Center of Expertise, which shall comprise a centralized investigations unit and corresponding investigations process for employees of the Commonwealth who allege violations of the Commonwealth’s policies prohibiting discrimination. 

Section 12. No person shall be retaliated against for filing a complaint or claim related to an allegation of discrimination or for participating in an investigation or any other proceeding related to such complaint or claim.

Section 13. ODEO and MOD shall promulgate guidelines establishing a complaint resolution process for reasonable accommodation requests. In instances where the applicable process does not resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, the complainant may file a complaint with the MCAD.

Section 14. In performing their responsibilities under this Order, ODEO, MOD, the MCAD, and the Human Resources Division shall have the full cooperation of all state agencies, including compliance with all requests for information.

Section 15. ODEO shall collaborate with the Governor’s Office of Access and Opportunity, as established in Executive Order 559, on projects that are mutually beneficial to supporting the Governor’s vision on diversity and inclusion. 

Section 16. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to preclude or otherwise limit the continuation or implementation of any lawful affirmative action programs or other programs that support the objectives of this Executive Order.

Section 17. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately and shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 23rd day of October in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred forty-four.

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