A History on ODEO

The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity is charged with carrying the Governor's mandates under Executive Order 592 to advance workforce diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and affirmative action. Maintaining the integrity and principles of human rights and equal access to employment.

Formerly known as State Office of Affirmative Action (SOAA), established to carry out the Governor’s mandate to ensure practices of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and Veterans.

In 1970, as a result of the civil rights activities and federal legislation of the 1960’s, Governor Sargent signed the first executive order mandating affirmative action policies for the hiring of state employees.  In 1975, the executive order was amended and expanded to give joint responsibilities for monitoring and enforcing of affirmative action policies to both SOAA and the MA Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).  In 1978, an executive order was signed requiring Equal Employment Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities establishing the Office of Handicapped Affairs as an entity within the SOAA.  In 1981, the Office of Handicapped Affairs created by statue (amendment 114) is no longer part of the State Office of Affirmative Action.  

In 1983, Executive Order 227 was issued requiring SOAA to have a direct reporting relationship to the Governors office and the Secretary of Administration and Finance.  SOAA is established as the regulatory agency responsible for the implementation of affirmative action within the executive branch of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Additionally, an executive order was signed requiring affirmative action for Vietnam Era Veterans.  

In 2000, under the leadership of Acting Governor Swift, a new Diversity Initiative was launched.  The Office of Work/Life and Diversity (OFcWLD) was created to handle all policy and program development for work life/family friendly and diversity programs and to conduct workforce and strategic planning within the Executive Branch.  The Diversity Initiative included the forming of the Diversity Advisory Group, developing a pilot training program, creating train the trainer training, and employee development and mentoring, and ensuring all employees completed the basic diversity training.  Other components involved were recruitment, hiring development, retention programs and measures including Affirmative Action and Diversity Plans and progress reports.

Today, the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity strives to reflect diversity in all government activities, programs, and services regardless of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability and veteran statuses. We believe that embracing and celebrating our differences enriches the quality of the work experience and enhances our own personal and professional relationships. Throughout the fabric of the Commonwealth, diversity and inclusion are the threads with which we weave the tapestry of cultural inclusion for our employees and the citizens of Massachusetts to see and experience. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Affirmative Action (AA) and Diversity are critical components in creating an inclusive work environment. 

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