The State Council on Affirmative Action and the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations Annual Diversity Award
Innovation and excellence in diversity
By Jonathan Gramling
The United States is an ever changing place. Whoever would have thought 50 years ago
that people would be able to use iphones to call someone or access something called the
Internet to find out any bit of information they wanted to? And whoever would have thought that
the demographics of the country would be changing so rapidly as well. Indeed, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau, non-Hispanic Whites will make up less than 50 percent of the U.S.
population by 2050.
This rapidly changing demographic trend underscores the need for employers to transform
themselves into multicultural enterprises that can attract and retain the best talent regardless of
culture, ethnicity and gender. This is especially true for Wisconsin state government, the state’s
largest employer. Nine years ago, the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations (OSER)
instituted the Diversity Awards to highlight state workplace achievements in the area of diversity
in order to encourage the evolution of state workplaces in light of the demographic trends.
On October 30, OSER in collaboration with the State Council on Affirmative Action held its
Annual Diversity Award Presentation in the State Capitol Senate Parlor. “In the state of
Wisconsin, our Hispanic population has more than doubled since 1990,” said State Senator
Spencer Coggs, the event’s keynote speaker. “And other minority groups are experiencing
tremendous growth. People of color now account for over 13 percent of Wisconsin’s population.”
Coggs noted that affirmative action and civil rights are essential for the state’s future vitality. “Let
me quote Martin Luther King Jr,” Coggs said. “‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and
controversy.’ It is up to us to redouble our efforts to continue to provide equal opportunity and
Affirmative Action. This will ensure a strong and more vibrant population, a strong and more
vibrant workforce and a strong and more vibrant economy for the state of Wisconsin. The Diversity
Awards today attest to our strong commitment to this fundamental principle.”
The following agencies and universities were recognized at the 2008 event:
Department of Workforce Development. The Department of Workforce Development was selected
to receive the highest honor of diversity recognition for its workforce diversity and its opportunities
for upward mobility for women, racial/ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. From July
2007 to July 2008, these targeted group representations consistently remained well above both
the statewide average as well as the available workforce. Statistics also showed that they had a
higher number and percentage of reclassifications and promotional opportunities than the
statewide average, which demonstrates the overall recruitment and retention success at the
department. These efforts demonstrate a sincere commitment to diversity and equity.
Office of the State Public Defender. The Office of the State Public Defender was selected to
receive the highest honor of diversity recognition for its implementation of “The Respectful
Workplace” training program. This statewide initiative promotes the value of diversity for the
agency and the public by facilitating discussions relating to the creation of an inclusive and
respectful work environment. The Council recognizes these efforts as being an important
contribution to the state’s larger objective of securing a highly talented and diversified workforce
statewide, as well as promoting an inclusive atmosphere.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater was selected to
receive the Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award for the King/Chavez Scholars program,
which was designed to enhance recruitment and retention of “exceptional undergraduate
scholars.” The Council appreciates the University’s financial commitment to ensure the success
of the program. In addition, the program selection criteria for scholarship applicants and the
program’s success record since its inception in 1997 demonstrate the impact of this program in
promoting diverse student leaders who will be needed to advance the state’s future workforce .
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point was selected to
receive the Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award for its Literature Circles Diversity
Collaboration. This project is an innovative collaboration among the UW-Stevens Point,
Milwaukee Vincent High School and Adams-Friendship High School. This program promotes
cultural awareness and literacy through reading and discussion. The Council is impressed with
the effectiveness of the program and its impact on all participants involved in the program.
Department of Natural Resources. The Department of Natural Resources was selected to receive
a Program Achievement Award for its outreach efforts to the Hmong community. DNR established
several programs to facilitate communication with the Hmong communities of northwestern
Wisconsin. Programs such as these demonstrate a sincere commitment to improving the state of
diversity and equity for the growing diverse public we serve. These programs benefit not only
those that participate in them but also DNR and the state.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls was selected to
receive a Program Achievement Award for its USDA Multicultural Scholars Grant Program. This
initiative promotes opportunity for diverse students in the College of Agriculture, Food, and
Environmental Sciences who might not otherwise have explored these agricultural fields. The
Council recognizes this effort as being an important contribution to the state’s larger objective of
securing a highly talented and diversified workforce.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was selected to
receive a Program Achievement Award for its Life Impact Program. This initiative provides
various forms of support services and financial assistance to disadvantaged students with children
to assist them in obtaining their education goals, and thereby combating the cycle of poverty.
The Council recognizes these efforts as being an important contribution to the State of Wisconsin’
s larger objective of securing a highly talented and diversified workforce.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was selected to receive a
Program Achievement Award for the Learning Communities, coordinated through the Office for
Equity and Diversity. This initiative provides a forum for discussion among multiple stakeholders
on topics relating to the creation of inclusive learning and teaching environments. The Council
recognizes these efforts as being an important contribution to the state’s larger objective of
securing a highly talented and diversified workforce, as well as promoting an inclusive
atmosphere in which we all can flourish.
Top (l-r): Program Achievement Award winners
UW-Madison, Wis. Dept. of Natural Resources, UW-River
2008 Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award winners