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diversity initiatives

Diversity initiatives—also known as diversity and inclusion initiatives or D&I—are policies and procedures implemented by a business or other organization that are designed to improve workplace and career experiences and outcomes for women and racial and ethnic minorities. Organizations usually begin a diversity initiative with a statement by top management that the initiative is a priority for the organization, and sometimes hire a Director of Diversity & Inclusion or Chief Equality Officer to implement the organization’s goals related to hiring and retention of diverse employees.

In Texas, there are no specific state statutes that mandate private businesses to implement diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. However, businesses are encouraged to adopt such practices to foster a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Texas does follow federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provide further protections against workplace discrimination. While Texas companies are not legally required to have a Director of Diversity & Inclusion or a Chief Equality Officer, many choose to appoint such roles to demonstrate their commitment to D&I and to better align with federal anti-discrimination laws. It's important for employers to be aware that while D&I initiatives are voluntary, any policies or practices they implement must comply with existing anti-discrimination laws.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21 - Employment Discrimination
This chapter is relevant as it outlines the state's laws against employment discrimination, which is a foundational aspect of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21, prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies, labor organizations, and the state government. The chapter is enforced by the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, which investigates discrimination complaints. Employers are required to provide equal employment opportunities and may be subject to legal action if they fail to comply.

Texas Government Code, Chapter 657 - Veterans' Employment Preferences
This statute is relevant as it addresses employment preferences for veterans, which can be a component of a diversity and inclusion initiative.

Chapter 657 of the Texas Government Code provides for employment preferences for veterans, their spouses, and orphans in public employment. This statute requires state agencies, including universities, to practice veterans' preference in hiring decisions, as long as the veteran meets the minimum qualifications for the job. This is part of the state's efforts to ensure the inclusion of veterans in the workforce, which can be an important aspect of a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy.

Texas Education Code, Chapter 51 - Provisions Generally Applicable to Higher Education
This code is relevant as it includes provisions for higher education institutions, which often implement diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The Texas Education Code, Chapter 51, contains various provisions that apply to higher education institutions in Texas. While it does not directly mandate diversity and inclusion initiatives, it sets the framework within which state institutions of higher education operate. These institutions often establish diversity and inclusion programs to foster a diverse educational environment and to comply with federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 20, Chapter 815 - Workforce Solutions Office
This chapter is relevant as it governs the operations of the Texas Workforce Commission, which may provide guidance and support for diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 20, Chapter 815, outlines the responsibilities of the Workforce Solutions Office, which is a part of the Texas Workforce Commission. This office is tasked with developing and implementing programs that support a competitive workforce in Texas. While not specific to diversity and inclusion, the programs and services offered can support the goals of diversity initiatives by providing resources for workforce training, education, and employment services that are accessible to all Texans, including women and minorities.

Texas Government Code, Chapter 21 - Discrimination by State Agencies
This chapter is relevant as it prohibits discrimination by state agencies, which can influence diversity and inclusion policies within state government.

Chapter 21 of the Texas Government Code prohibits state agencies from discriminating against any person because of race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, age, or veteran status. It requires state agencies to ensure that all individuals have equal access to employment and services. This statute supports the creation of diversity and inclusion initiatives within state agencies by mandating non-discriminatory practices and promoting equal opportunity.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This foundational statute is relevant because it prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, which is a cornerstone for diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against any individual with respect to his/her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments as well as private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. The statute also prohibits retaliation against individuals for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
The ADA is relevant to diversity initiatives as it requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, thereby promoting an inclusive workplace.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Titles I and V of the ADA prohibit an employer from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The statute also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
The ADEA is relevant to diversity initiatives as it protects older workers from discrimination, ensuring an age-diverse and inclusive workplace.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as the federal government.

Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act is relevant to diversity initiatives as it addresses the wage disparity between men and women, promoting gender equality in the workplace.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. The Act covers all forms of pay, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay. The Equal Pay Act applies to virtually all employers.

Executive Order 11246
This Executive Order is relevant to diversity initiatives as it requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.

Executive Order 11246, as amended, prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. The Executive Order also requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment. It is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S. Department of Labor.