I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, make the following findings:
1. Alaska is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the nation. According to the 2000 census, 15.6 percent of Alaskans identify themselves as Alaska Native; 4.1 percent as Hispanic or Latino; 4 percent as Asian; 3.5 percent as African American; 5.4 percent as “mixed,” and 69.3 percent as white.
2. As Alaskans, we cherish our freedoms and civil rights. The first act of the Territorial Legislature in 1913 gave women the right to vote–seven years before the rest of the nation. Civil rights legislation championed by Elizabeth Peratrovich and the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood passed in 1945, two decades before the United States Civil Rights Act.
3. Alaskans have made great strides in overcoming discrimination and injustice, but recent events and findings of the Governor’s Commission on Tolerance make it clear that levels of intolerance and discrimination continue to exist in our state.
4. As a nation and a state dedicated to democracy and civil liberties, we, as individuals, employers, employees, and communities must do all we can to eliminate discrimination and intolerance from our society and celebrate our diversity.
5. While tolerance and respect for all peoples inherently is the responsibility of each individual, those in leadership and institutional roles should lead this effort and teach by example.
6. As an employee, public servant, and institution, the State of Alaska can take steps to improve our workplaces and customer service to reflect the diversity of our state and our respect for all peoples.
I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority vested in me by art. III, secs. 1, 16, and 24, of the Alaska Constitution, and in recognition of the findings concerning perceived institutional intolerance in state agencies set out in the final report of the Governor’s Commission on Tolerance, renew the state’s commitment to diversity in the state workplace free from discrimination and harassment. I declare that it is the continued goal of the executive branch to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the contexts of the state as an employer and service provider; to assure timely response to discrimination and harassment complaints concerning state personnel or services; to prohibit and prevent discriminatory behavior in the state workplace based on race, sex, color, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, or economic status, to assure that all Alaskans have the opportunity to compete fairly for state jobs; and to assure that state personnel serve all Alaskans with respect. This Order fosters policies contained in AS 18.80.010 – 18.80.300, AS 39.25.010 – 39.25.995, AS 44.19.450 – 44.19.458, in related regulations adopted under those statutes, and in Administrative Orders No. 189, 129, 109, 93, 86, 81, 76, 75, 59, 35, 24, and 18 on this subject.
To promote these policies, I order all of the state agencies of the executive branch to:
1. Implement within the head office of each state agency an early intervention process for discrimination and harassment complaints concerning state personnel. The Department of Administration shall establish this informal harassment and discrimination complaint process to be implemented by all state agencies consistent with collective bargaining agreements and law. The Department of Administration shall publicize the process to all state personnel through training, orientation, and educational materials. The Department of Administration shall facilitate training for supervisors and other state managers on how to recognize complaints of discrimination or harassment and the appropriate initial response to those complaints. The state agency head shall assign an internal complaint officer within the agency head’s office to be responsible for the implementation and operation of the internal, informal complaint process within each state agency.
2. Implement standardized orientation for new hires to the state workforce and provide diversity training for all state personnel. The Department of Administration shall standardize new hire orientation to assure that new state personnel are advised of their rights and responsibilities with respect to human rights, equal employment opportunity, and civil rights law and of their responsibility for contributing to a positive workplace for all state workers. In addition to the currently offered curriculum on “Respectful Workplace,” the Department of Administration shall embark on a statewide diversity training initiative for all state employees. This training shall emphasize a broad definition of diversity. The course shall be available through the division of personnel, Department of Administration, as a regularly scheduled class in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and other communities as necessary, and on request as a customized course for state staff units throughout Alaska. With the approval of the Department of Administration, each state agency may adapt the training to specific needs and circumstances of that agency and may use current, successful training programs to avoid duplication with the statewide program, with the understanding that all agency training must include all essential elements of the statewide program. To the maximum extent possible, all state employees currently serving in a supervisory position must complete a diversity training course described in this provision within one year after the effective date of this Order and state employees hired for a supervisory position after the effective date of this Order must complete the training course within one year after hire.
3. Increase recruitment outreach, improve training for hiring managers, and broaden the high school and college internship programs to ensure the widest diversity of opportunity for all Alaskans. Each state agency shall engage in active recruitment outreach activities, including job fairs, that reach more diverse segments of Alaska’s population and cooperative efforts with Alaska Native and other ethnic organizations to provide training on how to apply for state jobs. The Division of Personnel, Department of Administration, shall assure that basic Workplace Alaska training for hiring managers emphasizes the importance of fair treatment for all minorities throughout the state recruitment process. Training for managers shall include techniques for interviewing diverse applicants to assure absence of bias. The division of personnel, Department of Administration, shall work with public school and University of Alaska administrators to develop and advertise a statewide high school and college internship program that is open to all Alaska students.
4. Implement customer service training for all state agency employees who deal with the public on a day-to-day basis and an informal public service complaint process within each state agency. Each state agency shall establish an open and publicized complaint process through which the public can make their concerns known to the state agency regarding perceived discrimination in state service delivery. Each state agency shall report to the Governor annually, no later than December 31 of each year, on the number and type of complaints and their response to each. State employees who interact with the public will attend training offered by the division of personnel, Department of Administration, stressing the importance of treating all citizens with respect regardless of the citizen’s background, origin, or life style. The training will develop skills for providing service to a diverse public and will take into consideration the specific needs of each state agency based on the customers it serves.
This Order takes effect immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska this 5th day of March 2002.
By: S/S Tony Knowles