The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) released its Equity Action Plan for ensuring its programming and policies reach a larger and more diverse audience. The plan acknowledges that inclusive growth is good economics and it works to incorporate equity into every stream of work at the Commerce Department. Earlier this year, the Department updated its mission statement to better highlight its efforts to create economic growth and opportunity ‘for all communities’. This plan builds on that approach and follows through on the commitments outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.
“America’s diversity is our competitive advantage – but only if we give everyone an opportunity to fulfill their potential and fully participate,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “The U.S. can’t have sustained economic growth or continue to lead the world if we aren’t utilizing all of our talent. The Commerce Department is committed to using our programs and our policies to address barriers to opportunity and build an economy that empowers people in underserved communities.”
In addition to the Department’s FY22-FY26 Strategic Plan laying out an agenda for innovation, resilience and equity to strengthen America’s competitiveness in the 21stcentury, the Equity Action Plan outlines how Commerce will use its programs and tools to:
- Close the digital divide
- Ensure community development dollars advance racial equity and support underserved communities
- Grow Minority Business Enterprises (MBE)
- Strengthen small businesses in underserved communities by helping them be successful exporters
- Increase access to the patent and trademark systems for inventors and entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities
- Make Department of Commerce science and data more findable, accessible, and usable
The Department has worked to address barriers to services through implementation of legislation and program design, and broad efforts to expand access and outreach to our core Department services. These efforts include the launch of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives and implementing the Minority Business Development Act of 2021 providing permanent authorization for MBDA.
During the recent equity town hall, Deputy Secretary Don Graves announced the formation of the DOC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Council, which will help to champion the Equity Action Plan in support of the Department’s “North Star” to:
- Work to ensure grants, services, personnel, and data are all accessible to underserved communities
- Look inward to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible workplace
- Create systems to collect quantitative and qualitative data to measure our progress on equity
- Build the infrastructure to institutionalize equity long term
Commerce recognizes equity as a strategic priority not only across all streams of work through this external-facing plan, but also in all ways of working as an employer of choice. To further position Commerce with a competitive advantage across the labor force, the Department is in the process of partnering with bureaus to develop a DEIA Strategic Plan focusing on the internal cultivation of a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible workplace in support of EO 14035 on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce.
The Equity Action Plan can be found here