Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


A.  Overview

Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to the success of the AGO.  The AGO is committed to creating a positive work environment that recognizes employees as its most valuable resource.  Integrity, professionalism, civility, and transparency are hallmarks of our workforce.  Our core values are served by strongly promoting inclusion and equity throughout the organization, while embracing the individual differences of our employees and clients.  AGO employees can better achieve their full potential in an inclusive and respectful environment, where all employees are treated equally.  The AGO also recognizes that diverse perspectives and backgrounds result in better information and decision-making, further building public trust.  Accordingly, it is paramount for AGO staff to appreciate, value and implement principles of diversity, cultural competency, equity and inclusion, while performing our duties at work and at work functions.    

B.  Definitions

For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

Diversity:  The quality of being different which can include, but is not limited to, differences in ethnicity, race, gender, age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, abilities and disabilities, religious, ethno-religion, spiritual values, veteran status, and gender identity and expression.  The principle of diversity advocates that the AGO be inclusive of all, recognizing, respecting, appreciating, and including people of all cultures and backgrounds and their individual differences. 

Cultural Competence: Behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable individuals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Cultural competence promotes the respect for and understanding of diverse cultures and social groups, and the unique attributes of each individual within a larger organization.  Cultural competency is based on integrating the awareness and learned skills needed to effectively and sensitively educate, work with, and serve people from diverse backgrounds and social identities.

An integral part of cultural competence is exercising cultural responsiveness—the capacity to respond to the cultural differences and issues of a diverse work group, whether explicit or subtle.  Examples of subtle cultural differences include communication style, problem solving styles, and conflict resolution preferences.  

Culture:   The values, attitudes, beliefs, experiences and customs shared and communicated by a group of people that contribute to a person’s sense of identity.  Culture also includes the knowledge and collective experiences shared across generations within a cultural group. 

Equity:  The freedom from bias or favoritism.  The quality of being fair and impartial; recognizing privilege and taking action to meet the needs of individuals in order to level the playing field, eliminating bias, for or against individuals.

Gender Identity:  A person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.

Inclusion:  A value supported by incorporating diverse perspectives and practices to promote, develop, evolve, and implement an organization’s culture, policies, systems and norms.  An inclusive environment is one where people encourage and embrace different perspectives, ideas, and experiences to create meaningful opportunity, interaction, communication, information, and decision-making prowess.  An inclusive workplace is not only one where people feel included, but also where people recognize when workplace traditions/events may result in the exclusion of individuals. 

Microaggresssions:  The everyday slights, indignities, putdowns and insults that people who are marginalized experience in their day-to-day interactions, usually from a person with privilege.  Microagressions often appear to be compliments, but contain hidden insults to the people they are directed to.  Microaggressions may occur regardless of the intent of the actor.

Privilege:  The unearned advantages, favors and benefits granted to people in dominant groups whether they want those privileges or not, and regardless of their stated intent.

C.  Core Principles

The AGO is committed to promoting diversity and an inclusive, welcoming environment for all staff.  As a result, we recognize these core principles and values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Respect and Support: The AGO recognizes and appreciates that our employees and the people we serve come from different backgrounds and experiences. We strive to have an agency-wide culture that recognizes respect for all and promotes cultural competence, diversity, inclusion and equity to better recruit, promote and retain a diverse workforce. 

While at the AGO, employees and members of the public are welcome to use any room or space that corresponds with the person’s gender identity without regard to the individual’s assigned sex at birth.  No gender-based requirements shall be imposed on any employee at the AGO.  To the extent known or declared, individuals at the AGO shall be referred to by the name, gender designation, and pronoun/non-pronoun preferred by the individual.  No employee at the AGO shall request documentation or other information to establish or verify an individual’s self-reported gender identity.

Transparency and Inclusion:   The AGO is composed of individuals with valuable perspectives and voices who are encouraged to assist in office wide decision-making processes.  Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion also furthers an environment of honesty, which can only occur when individuals feel safe to speak openly and with confidence that co-workers and leadership will willingly accept diverse contributions, opinions and ideas.  Addressing microaggressions furthers the goals of inclusion.  Respecting someone’s preferred name, gender designation, and/or pronoun/non-pronoun preference increases feelings of inclusion and a safe environment.

Professionalism and Civility:  The AGO’s long-term success is critically linked to a reputation for fairness, sensitivity, respect and cultural competency.  The AGO also emphasizes civility, which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. 


1.  Diversity Funding Sources.   Funding for diversity activities may come from the office’s budget (administrative or divisional) participant payments, and/or donations to offset the cost of events, such as when providing food at an event.

2.  Authorized Diversity Expenditures.  The Attorney General has created a Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC).  A non-exclusive list of authorized expenditures for the DAC or AGO divisions include:

  • Awards to outstanding diversity site coordinators and diversity event sponsors to promote participation.  Each award purchased with state funds will cost no more than $50.00 unless the Chief Deputy authorizes a higher amount.  The criteria for selecting winners must be published when events are being promoted.

  • Unless the Chief Deputy authorizes a higher amount, no more than $50.00 may be offered to keynote speakers or performers as a diversity-related honorarium or token gift. State officers or employees may have additional restrictions on accepting gifts or honoraria.

  • The DAC may partner with other state agencies to sponsor a joint diversity event and share in the pro rata cost of the presentation.  The Chair or Co-Chair entering an Interagency Agreement to procure goods or services for diversity activities shall consult with the Contracts Administrator and Purchasing and Payables Supervisor within the Financial Services Division to ensure compliance with state contracting requirements.

  • Educational materials such as instructional videotapes, diversity related videos, images, books, pamphlets and brochures.

3.  Procurement of Goods or Services.  All diversity funding requests must be submitted to the DAC for approval.  Activities occurring within AGO facilities must be consistent with state laws and regulations for acquiring goods and services and consistent with ethics in public service laws.  Staff who procure goods or services for diversity activities shall consult with the Contracts Administrator and Purchasing and Payables Supervisor within the Financial Services Division to ensure compliance with state contracting requirements.


All Employees:

  1. Are responsible for creating and maintaining a respectful, inclusive and professional work environment that values diversity and embraces the uniqueness of each individual, acting within the law, and for complying with this policy.  While discussion is encouraged in the workplace, all discussions shall be done in a respectful manner.

  2. Are required to participate in mandatory approved diversity training every three years.  A list of approved training shall be maintained by the AGO Registrar.  New employees will attend an approved diversity training within six months of hire.

    In addition to the mandatory approved diversity trainings, every year all employees shall attend at least one diversity event at least one hour in length.  The event must be sponsored by the DAC, a division, an affinity group or a single diversity speaker’s series presentation, which is not being used to meet the minimum mandatory approved diversity requirement.  Employees shall report their yearly diversity event to their supervisor.

  3. Shall have a competency in their Position Description Form that recognizes the importance of diversity, cultural competency, equity and inclusion in the work unit and AGO.

  4. Are encouraged to participate in and support the AGO’s diversity efforts, including at least two hours of diversity, equity and inclusion activities during each calendar year designated to enhance cultural competency.  Staff are encouraged to suggest and help plan diversity presentations with the DAC and/or their division.  Time spent on AGO-sponsored diversity activities during work hours shall be considered work time.  Overtime-eligible employees may be required to flex their schedules so as not to incur overtime when attending diversity presentations.

  5. Honor the name, gender designation and pronoun/non-pronoun preferred by each employee and take steps to ensure that staff respect the individual’s expressed preference.    

All Supervisors

      1.  Are required to complete a minimum of three action items each year in the Diversity Plan for Managers.

      2.  When aware of a microaggression or other inappropriate communication or behavior, shall address immediately or where appropriate, elevate to the Division Chief and/or Human Resources for addressing. 

All Division Chiefs shall:

  1. Ensure that a Diversity Site Coordinator is identified for the division. DAC Members and Diversity Site Coordinators must obtain Division Chief approval to serve.

  2. Ensure that new staff attend approved diversity training within six months of hire.

  3. Encourage division members to sponsor diversity events within the division or in conjunction with other divisions.

    The Core Leadership Team shall:

  1. Ensure that each geographical location shall sponsor at least one diversity related program each calendar year.

  2. Track employees’ participation in mandatory diversity training activities with the assistance of the AGO Training Unit.

  3. Model the behaviors expected of all AGO employees to be inclusive, thus encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion.

    The DAC shall:

  1. Regularly meet and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the AGO by serving as a resource to management and others on diversity/equity/inclusion issues, providing assistance on recruitment and retention efforts, and providing education, training and programs to promote awareness.

  2. Conduct an AGO workplace equity and inclusion survey every other year to assess trends in attitudes and opinions in the office as they relate to diversity, equality and inclusion, and to assess diversity and cultural competency awareness of all individuals within the AGO. 

  3. Conduct AGO diversity site coordinator training focused on increasing the knowledge of the site coordinators, and developing best practices on promoting and sponsoring, diversity, equity and inclusion awareness at the AGO divisional and greater office level.