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Diversity and Inclusion

Black/African American Special Emphasis Program

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proudly leads the effort to build a diverse workforce and cultivate an inclusive work environment. We do this by developing and implementing policies and programs that promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace as we strive to ensure that VA’s workforce is drawn from the broadest segments of society so that it is poised to meet the present and future needs of our Nation's Veterans, their families, and beneficiaries.

VA’s Black/African American Special Emphasis Program (SEP) was strengthened through Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, which established the Equal Employment Opportunity Program. It is the policy of the Federal government to provide equal opportunity in employment to all individuals regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or age. Management Directive 715 provides policy guidance and standards for establishing and maintaining effective affirmative programs of equal employment opportunity under Section 717 of Title VII (Part A) and effective affirmative action programs under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act (Part B).

The purpose of VA’s Black/African American SEP is to help identify and eliminate actual recruitment and employment inequities (if any exist), which may adversely affect African American employees and applicants, and to identify areas with less than expected participation of African Americans in VA’s workforce. See 29 Code of Federal Regulation, Part 1614.102(b)(4) for more information.

Within this framework, some of the specific program objectives include:

  • Identify and address any barriers to the hiring, development and advancement of African Americans.
  • Assist to develop and implement special program initiatives that will enhance the employment and advancement of African Americans.
  • Identify ways to ensure equal consideration of African American employees for promotions, training, and awards.
  • Monitor separations and disciplinary actions for African American employees.
  • Serve as liaison between recruiters and internal/external organizations which can assist in recruitment efforts and activities.
  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships with community, professional and national organizations, college and universities.

Executive Orders

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Affinity Organizations

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MOUs and Partnership Agreements

VA maintains Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the following affinity organizations:

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External Affinity Conferences Approved for VA-wide Participation (VA External Affinity Conferences Memo [PDF])

For more information on external affinity conferences approved for VA-wide participation, please visit the following:

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Observances (VA SEP Observances Memo [PDF])

ORMDI provides a SEP Observances Toolkit as guidance to field facilities on implementing activities for special observances, including the following:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday (January 15)
  • Black History Month (February)
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week (September)

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Plans and Reports

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ORMDI does not offer or conduct employment services. Please visit the following:

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Internal Resources

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External Government Resources

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Other External Resources

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Program Contact

Note: This page links to external information on the Internet. VA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of these Web sites, and linking to these sites does not constitute endorsement by VA of the sites' sponsors or the information, products, or services they provide.

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ODI Links: