EO Award Nomination Washington

Washington EO Award Nomination: Equal Opportunity Officer Team

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Teresa Eckstein

Email Address: teresa.eckstein@esd.wa.gov

Agency Name: Washington State Employment Security



Equal Opportunity Officer Team

The Washington State Employment Security Department Equal Opportunity Office (State EO Office) facilitated the creation of an innovative Equal Opportunity Officer Team (EO Officer Team) in February 2018, beginning with the first annual 2-day EO Officer Team Conference. This partnership of the 12 Local Workforce Development Board Equal Opportunity Officers (Local EO Officers) and the State EO Office staff, collaborates to better identify and eliminate barriers to equal opportunity, including collaboratively developing policy, training, guidance and tools that are used consistently across the state. This approach is unique in that all of the Local EO Officers work with the State EO Office as a partnership to develop, update and implement the State EO programs, resulting in improved compliance and better programs.

Like many other states, the Washington State EO Office has always worked closely with each of our Local EO Officers for monitoring, training and technical assistance, and appreciate the wealth of knowledge and commitment to equal opportunity and workforce development that they bring to their work.

Prior to February 2018, the State EO Office provided updates and information to the Local EO Officers individually when monitoring or as needed, as a group through quarterly conference calls, and provided in-person 2-day training for new Local EO Officers and those who wanted a refresher. The conference calls and trainings were well attended, and the group recognized how much they benefited from discussing issues and ideas with their EO Officer peers.

With the opportunity to implement the new Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity provisions of WIOA, provide training on the changes, create the State's Nondiscrimination Plan, and to update compliance tools and resources, the first annual 2-day EO Officer Team Conference was developed and implemented in 2018. The focus was to build a collaborative partnership of the Local and State EO Officers, to share promising practices, and to train the team on the new nondiscrimination provisions of WIOA.

The EO Officer Team was formed and together they continue to identify barriers to successful local and statewide equal opportunity programs and are continuously working toward eliminating barriers. This team developed training and tools for compliance across the state and established a nondiscrimination plan that reflects the state's commitment to equal opportunity and diverse programs and populations. Some examples of the impacts and contributions of this partnership and team are described in questions two and three below, and in the enclosed samples.

Describe the nominee's significant contributions towards the understanding and achievement of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination for all employees and customers. Response (400 word limited).

There were 22 attendees at the first conference in February 2018, including the Local EO Officers and several staff who help them with their EO duties. There was a panel presentation by the Executive Director (Commissioner) and each of the division directors of the State Workforce Agency, with time for questions and discussion. There was training provided by an expert on IT accessibility from the State's Information Technology office. The Executive Director of the Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment gave a presentation on providing reasonable accommodations to customers through case study examples. Training on issues facing LGTBQ+ individuals was given by a state expert. Local EO Officers shared some of their promising practices around equal opportunity. The State EO office provided an overview of the new nondiscrimination provisions of WIOA and gave training on processing discrimination complaints. The team began the work of reviewing and updating the monitoring handbook, the EO training for staff in job centers and the discrimination complaint processing policy.

The first conference was a great success, with the attendees learning together, sharing knowledge and information, and building incredible camaraderie and sense of community. The group decided to meet in-person twice a year because the conference provided so much benefit and value to their work. Currently, the team gathers for an annual 2-day in-person conference, in a different local area each year; and meets in-person at a pre-conference to the Statewide Workforce Development Conference.

The agendas are developed collaboratively, and each conference provides training from outside experts, promising practices from peers, training and updates from the State EO team, time with the State Workforce Agency Deputy Director or Commissioner for updates and discussion, roundtable time for everyone to talk about current issues in their areas and time to plan next steps. (See Sample 1 – Conference Agendas and Materials)

The State EO Office continues to provide other ongoing training and technical support to the Local EO Officers. They provide 2-day inperson EO Officer training sessions for new EO officers, those who want a refresher, and staff who help them with their EO duties. This comprehensive classroom training covers the nondiscrimination provisions of WIOA, Washington’s Nondiscrimination Plan, and their responsibilities as Local EO Officers. After the training, the State EO Office provides hands-on monitoring training for each new EO officer in their local area to help them apply their learning. (See Sample 2 – Training Agendas and Materials)

Provide a statement of results, accomplishments, impacts and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee’s efforts were an exceptional contribution to the state workforce agency. Response (400 word limited).

The EO Officer Team has achieved a great deal together. They built a collaborative team that actively identifies and shares barriers to equal opportunity in their local areas and work with their peers and the State EO Office to find ways to reduce or eliminate barriers. Three of the Local EO Officers wrote letters of support for this award nomination describing how this group has impacted their work. (See Sample 3 – EO Officer Letters)

The team builds the agendas for conferences collaboratively, focusing on areas where there are issues, things they want to learn more about, and hands-on work to improve the tools and resources they use in their EO work.

Together the group updated the State’s EO Monitoring Guide and Tools, to comply with the updates to the WIOA regulations and to be clear and efficient. They reached consensus on the guide and tools and agreed to use it in their local areas to do annual monitoring of their offices and service providers. By participating in the updates to the guide, they all became experts on the requirements and the State EO Team has seen a great increase in levels of compliance. The State EO Team has identified only minor issues when reviewing the Local EO Officer’s monitoring and compliance the past two years. This monitoring guide is used as a sample for other states. (See Sample 4 – EO Monitoring Guide and Tools)

The team also updated the training curricula provided by Local EO Officers to staff in their offices, to comply with updated regulations, respond to current issues, and to be more interactive, with small group exercises on relevant topics including reasonable accommodations, religious accommodations, gender identity and discrimination complaints. The group reached consensus on the training and revisit it each year to make updates based on feedback they receive, issues they identify and to update the small group exercises when there are new issues to address. Through this process, the team feels confident in delivering the training and answering the questions that come up in their local areas. (See Sample 5 – EO Training)

The team members regularly reach out to each other and share ideas and resources. There is consistency across the state with the way that the Nondiscrimination Plan is implemented, how staff are trained, and how compliance is monitored. This group is helping to ensure more inclusive programs and practices across the state.


Samples of work 

WA - Conference Agendas and Materials 2020.pdf (2.8MB)
WA - Training Agendas and Materials 2020.pdf (6MB)
WA - EO Officer Letters 2020.pdf (1.1MB)
WA - EO Monitoring Guide and Tools 2020.pdf (562.2KB)
WA -EO Training 2020.pdf (2.4MB)