Charter of the Midwest Area Diversity and Equal Opportunity Council
The Midwest Area (MWA) Diversity and Equal Opportunity Council was established to assist the Area Director in implementing U.S. Executive Order 11478, which states that "It is the policy of the Government of the United States to provide equal opportunity in Federal employment for all persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and mental and physical handicap, and to promote the full realization of equal opportunity through a continuing affirmative employment program in each executive department and agency. This policy of equal opportunity applies to and must be an integral part of every aspect of personnel policy and practice in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment of civilian employees of the Federal Government" and as amended pursuant to Executive Order 13087 and 13152 to include sexual orientation and individual's status as a parent. Accordingly, a workforce rich in diverse talent, ideas, and backgrounds is essential to the MWA mission of conducting innovative research to create economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural systems that will provide food, renewable green products and energy for the benefit of all US and world citizens. The MWA is committed to fostering diversity in its workforce by promoting equal opportunities and developing strategies to further these goals.
The Council will be officially known as the Midwest Area Diversity and Equal Opportunity Council, hereinafter referred to as the "Council."
The Council serves in an advisory capacity to the Area Directors, assisting them in fulfilling the objectives of USDA's Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity strategic plan, and of the related Departmental Cultural Transformation programs. The Council will assist in formulating and recommending approaches and processes to the Area Directors, which will enhance the diversity of current and future applicant pools for all positions; and create a workplace that attracts and retains a diverse workforce. Council members will serve as their location's contact for communication and coordination of Council initiatives.
The vision of the Council is to create a diverse workforce and promote a positive work environment where all employees are respected and valued for their contributions.
The mission of the Council is to enhance diversity which promotes scientific excellence and service in support of the Agricultural Research Service mission. The Council will provide advice and recommendations to the Area Directors in a variety of issues focused on achieving a diverse workforce and treating all employees with fairness and respect. The Council will 1) facilitate recruitment, outreach, and communication to promote a diverse job applicant pool; 2) advance Cultural Transformation initiatives to create a workplace environment which promotes work-life quality and employee satisfaction; and 3) increase employee awareness of diversity, equal employment opportunity, and civil rights.
Goals and Objectives
- Identify and recommend approaches that enhance the recruitment of a diverse workforce.
- Promote educational and experiential opportunities through the Summer Intern Program and other venues to encourage students to pursue careers in agricultural and related sciences.
- Identify and recommend actions to create a workplace environment that attracts and retains valued employees; welcomes and values diversity in all forms; promotes cooperation and respect; and effectively resolves conflict.
- Identify and advise Area management on matters concerning Special Emphasis Programs. The Special Emphasis Programs that are mandated by an Executive Order are: Federal Women's Program, Hispanic Employment Program, African American Employment Program, Asian American/Pacific Islander Employment Program, Disability Employment Program, and Native American/Alaskan Native Employment Program. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Program was added by a Departmental Regulation. Any others can be recognized in addition to the mandatory programs.
- Identify and communicate opportunities and activities to raise awareness of the above listed Special Emphasis Programs within each location in the MWA.
- Increase communication and sharing of MWA-Office of Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity (ODEO) initiatives and best management practices through MWA ODEO website and periodic newsletter.
- Serve as the conduit to solicit and receive nominations for ODEO Award nominations for Area and Agency awards.
- Serve as a venue for the dissemination of Departmental/Agency initiatives to locations.
The Council consists of nine members from MWA locations and reflects the employees, positions, and location composition within the MWA. The Area Directors will serve as the Sponsors.
The MWA-ODEO Program Manager and the Area Director's Executive Assistant serve as Technical Advisors. Council members will serve a 3-year term beginning in January. New members will shadow rotating council membership beginning in October to when their official appointment begins. Council members are nominated by the Location Coordinator and recommended to the Technical Advisors and Sponsors. If a member cannot complete a term, a new appointee will be nominated to complete the term of their predecessor. The Sponsors will approve nominations.
The council will elect a Chair, vice-Chair, and Recorder, who will lead the Council. Each will serve in these positions for a 1 year term, at which time the vice-Chair will assume the Chair position. A new vice-Chair will then be elected.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Provide guidance to Technical Advisors and Chairs
Technical Advisors will:
- Advise and work with the Chairs
- Have no voting privileges
- Act as a liaison between the Sponsors and the Council
- Ensure all Council meetings are conducted in accordance with the established charter and appropriate issues are addressed
- Ensure that all recommendations from the Council are consistent with policies and procedures
Chairperson, with the assistance of the vice-Chair, will:
- Lead the Council by presiding at all meetings and conference calls
- Keep Technical Advisors informed
- Organize meetings, arrange conference calls, and issue agendas
- Work with the Technical Advisors and Sponsor on implementing policies and programs within the Area
- Develop correspondence and obtain appropriate approvals prior to dissemination
- Assist the Chair and co-lead the Council as needed
- Serve as Chair in their absence
- Record and distribute minutes and action items of meetings (draft minutes distributed to Technical Advisors and Chairs for review before distribution to the Council)
- Maintain Council agendas and minutes, passing on to successor when term ends
All Members will:
- Fully participate in all Council activities
- Serve as liaison for the location on Council activities
- Nominate and elect the Chairs and Recorder
- Submit items for the Council Newsletters
- Provide corrections and additions to meeting/conference call minutes as needed
The Council is Not Empowered to:
- Accept for review any issue relating to a grievance or complaint of discrimination, formal or informal, filed by an employee or applicant.
- Initiate projects without prior approval of the Area Director.
- Conduct Equal Opportunity/Civil Rights (EO/CR) Program studies or initiate reports on EO/CR matters without prior approval of the Area Director.
- Issue written recommendations or proposals without the consent of the majority of the Council members.
- Address anonymous complaints or assure confidentiality to employees bringing issues or concerns to the Council.