Inslee tosses Washington’s outdated affirmative action plan for modernized approach to equality

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Inslee has rescinded the decades-old state directive on affirmative action; drafting a new executive order to take its place with a modernized approach to providing equal opportunities for people from all races and backgrounds in Washington.

The Governor announced his intentions earlier in the month and formally rescinded Directive 98–01 on Monday, January 17. His new executive order outlines guidelines and instructions on how to offer opportunities in an equitable fashion.

“Today, as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am taking action to change how we achieve equity within the law in our state,” Inslee said. “Achieving equal opportunity has always been foundational to our country’s history and each of us bears the responsibility to stand up and keep this unalienable right for all Washingtonians. Everyone deserves a fair chance to live to the fullest — everyone.”

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WA State Human Resources officials will oversee the transition and oversee that proper diversity, equality, inclusion, and anti-discriminatory guidelines are implemented across the state. The Office of the Attorney General will be made available to consult with agencies learning to comply.

This will extend into the state’s public school system, where the Washington Student Achievement Council will evaluate the current state of equality in our school systems and what adjustments can be made to empower students who may be marginalized.

Former Governor Gary Locke, who originally signed 98–01 23 years ago, stands behind Inslee’s initiative.

“I applaud Governor Inslee’s actions today. Our state has a deep commitment to providing equitable opportunities for all and now that the attorney general’s office has modified its opinion, it is absolutely appropriate to repeal 98–01 and replace it with something that better reflects our values,” Locke said.

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Governor Inslee’s decision also garnered support from the Mayors of both Seattle and Tacoma—two of the state’s most diverse cities.

The State’s Office of Equality is crafting plans to pave a path forward so that Washington is more equitable for everyone who lives in the state. As part of this effort, Governor Inslee will require state agencies and executives to build pro-equity, anti-racist strategic plans.

“As Dr. King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ All of us are responsible for doing our part to bend this arc. I want to thank our many leaders that have worked for years to improve equity in our state. And I call on all Washingtonians to continue their work on this important issue,” Inslee said.

To read the full executive order, click here.

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