Tennessee Required Some State Employees To Complete ‘Equity’ Assignment

The state's "diversity" reading materials say employees may need space to be "disengaged" at work.
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A previous version of this article stated that Tennessee’s Human Resource Department required state employees to complete the assignment. It has been corrected to note the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration’s human resource department required some employees to complete the assignment.

Tennessee required some state employees to complete an assignment on “diversity and equity” as part of their performance reviews, internal documents from the Department of Finance and Administration human resources office show.

Employees were required to read through a document dubbed “Workforce Diversity and Equity,” described as a guide for “starting the conversation,” and submit one to two “takeaways” from the material, according to documents obtained by The Daily Wire.

“You must read information on the site including 3 Ways to Become an Ally or 3 Ways to Take Care of Yourself and provide 1-2 takeaways you received from these,” reads an email from the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration human resources office to employees.

It is unclear how employees received the email.

The diversity and equity guidance document outlines ways for white people to empathize with and support employees of color, including potentially “approving requests to take annual leave or allowing flexible hours to support mental health.”

“Although we are all affected by the recent deaths of Black Americans, Black employees are affected disproportionately,” the guidance reads. “Be considerate of what employees are experiencing when communicating with team members.”

The guidance also counsels that some employees may need space to be “disengaged” at work.

“Even if employees look like they are okay, they may not be. Your employees may need space to be angry, afraid, disenchanted, or disengaged at work,” the guidance adds.

The document also cautions white people against asking people of color for help as they educate themselves on racial issues.

“Take responsibility for your education about race related issues,” the guidance recommends. “Avoid asking your colleagues and employees of color for resources. They may be dealing with emotional trauma and may not have the emotional capacity to facilitate your education.”

The guidance goes on to encourage white employees to “support organizations and businesses that would benefit the communities of color” and recommends that they bring their inclusive perspective home with them as well.

“Recognize and use your influence and power to call out racist behavior and discriminatory acts at work and in your personal circles with friends or family,” the document says.

Tennessee’s state employee performance reviews, called IPPs, can include performance metrics, performance evaluations, classes that must be completed, and other performance-related items.

A Tennessee Department of Human Resources representative disputed that the diversity assignment is required for state employees, saying “there are no such requirements in Tennessee state government, nor the Tennessee Department of Human Resources.”

The “Workforce Diversity and Equity,” document is an “optional resource developed in response to the events that occurred over the past summer, and it is no longer published on our internal website,” the representative said.

Other state governments as well as major U.S. companies have shifted dramatically in recent months toward requiring employees to undergo diversity and equity training, sometimes involving “anti-racism” and “unconscious bias” programs.

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the state’s new guidelines for implicit bias training, which is now required annually for all health care professionals in Michigan.

Employees in New York City must complete a mandatory online gender identity training session developed by the city that teaches that society incorrectly defines people by their reproductive organs.

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