Gov. Ralph Northam kicked off a search Friday for a new senior-level official to promote diversity and inclusion within state government, according to a job posting the administration circulated Friday.
The new employee will serve as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and will oversee the creation of an office by the same name. The director will report directly to the governor and his chief of staff, Clark Mercer.
Among the qualifications listed in the job description is the “understanding of systemic and institutional bias.”
Northam has for months talked about bringing on new staff to advise on matters of race and race relations following the blackface scandal that rocked his administration in February. Northam has rejected calls for his resignation after reports emerged of a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
Northam denies being in the photo, but an investigation into the matter is ongoing and expected to conclude in a matter of weeks. Northam admitted to wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume on a different occasion in 1984.
Northam also attracted criticism for describing the first captive Africans to arrive in Virginia as “indentured servants” instead of slaves. Their actual status is still debated by historians.
The director will be responsible for developing a plan to promote inclusive practices and address systemic inequities in state government. The person who fills the post will be tasked with “promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive environment throughout state government where employees feel a sense of belonging.”
The director also will work with the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management and the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to promote inclusive recruitment and retention across state government.