As a member of what will be the most diverse White House Cabinet in history, I am honored to lead VA. We are charged with caring for Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. We will accomplish our mission by always putting Veterans first. I take full responsibility to ensure that our employees have everything they need to carry out the important work before us and that we operate in a culture that celebrates and draws strength from our country’s great diversity.
This means that all VA staff, patients, their families, caregivers, survivors, visitors and advocates must feel safe in a workplace free of harassment and discrimination. I will not accept discrimination, harassment, or assault at any level or at any facility within VA. We will provide a safe, inclusive, equitable environment for all employees and the Veterans we serve.
To ensure a welcoming environment for Veterans, we must foster fair and inclusive VA workplaces where the experiences and perspectives of our diverse employees are valued. The success of our mission depends on everyone being able to contribute their expertise, experience, talents, ideas and perspectives. I commit to advancing equity in VA and providing all employees with opportunities to reach their full potential; I commit to these principles and will make sure that my senior leadership team reflects and embeds them in everything that we do.
One manifestation of that will be the Department’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, maintaining a workplace free of unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and creating a workplace that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion. All employees, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, transgender status and sexual orientation), pregnancy, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, marital status, parental status, or political affiliation will have an equitable and inclusive workplace free from unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
I will hold all VA managers and supervisors accountable for maintaining this safe and civil environment, and I will instruct them to review my policy statement with staff and colleagues to reinforce these expectations. These protections will guide all management practices.
VA and our Nation face great challenges made even more daunting by the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges make it even more important that we have workplaces where everyone is treated well. I am committed to ensuring that employees have what they need to serve our Nation’s Veterans as well as those Veterans who have served us. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to those who have worn our Nation’s uniforms.