WASHINGTON – In response to reports of Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s statements about diversity, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:
“It is appalling to hear reports that Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told his own employees that ‘diversity isn’t important.’ The United States is a country built on diversity, and the federal government has long been a model employer for minorities and women. The American Federation of Government Employees is the most diverse union in the country, and we are proud to represent members of all races, colors, and creeds.
“Not only is diversity crucial to the federal government, but it’s severely lacking at Interior. According to the Office of Personnel Management, Interior is 74 percent white – compared to 65 percent government-wide – and is dead last in hiring African Americans. The Department of Interior should be focusing on diversity in their recruitment instead of discouraging and divisive rhetoric.
“We demand that Secretary Zinke apologizes for any statements he made telling his employees that diversity isn’t something that we shouldn’t be focusing on anymore. It’s ignorant, hurtful, and hurts recruiting of minorities interested in joining public service. We hope he acts swiftly and puts forth a serious effort to bring his department into the 21st century.”