A whistleblower in the Texas Department of Transportation has claimed the state agency is pushing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on its employees.
The unidentified whistleblower, whose name has been withheld by the Texas Scorecard, allegedly told the news outlet that TxDOT is utilizing its employee website to push DEI messaging, purportedly to the ire of some employees.
Screenshots of the website provided to the Texas Scorecard showed a section called “ROW Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Priorities.” ROW is an acronym for TxDOT’s Right of Way division.
The section contains a list of priorities and actions that employees should be following:
“Enhanced outreach efforts related to recruiting and hiring — to include posting available positions on more platforms, increased participation at career fairs, and use of diverse interview panels. Implementation of a [DEI] moment during routine team meetings — immediately following the safety minute. An extended [DEI] topic will be presented in at least two ROW Town Hall meetings per year.
“Share resources made available by Human Resources staff, monthly, in an effort to educate staff and advance [DEI] best practices. Conduct an anonymous survey, once per year, to solicit candid feedback on how Right of Way Leadership is performing in establishing an environment of diversity and inclusiveness. Increase the number of templates and informational pamphlets provided in various languages to better serve and communicate with non-English speaking customers and stakeholders.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Texas Legislature passed a law banning DEI initiatives and policies at Texas public colleges and universities.
More specifically, SB 17 forbids any public university office from “promoting differential treatment of or providing special benefits to individuals on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity” or “promoting policies or procedures designed or implemented in reference to race, color, or ethnicity.”
No such law in the state currently prohibits other state agencies from deploying such initiatives.
Another section on the TxDOT employee website is labeled “Right of Way Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Central.” Clicking on that section purportedly takes employees to a “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit” that includes links to other books and videos promoting DEI initiatives.
Some of the videos contain titles like “Inclusion Starts with I,” “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” and “Kendi on how to become aware of privilege.” Similarly, book recommendations include titles like White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and The Person You Want to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh.
The Texas Scorecard was provided with screenshots of the website by its anonymous source after TxDOT allegedly attempted to withhold purportedly public information from the news outlet regarding the promotion of DEI practices in the department.
An open records request that was sent to TxDOT by the Texas Scorecard was appealed by William Sumner Macdaniel, associate general counsel for the state agency.