Special Emphasis Program

Office of Equal Employment and Supplier Diversity

What are Special Emphasis Programs?

Special Emphasis Programs (SEP) were established in the Federal Government to remove barriers to equal employment opportunity for groups that were traditionally not represented or subjected to discrimination in the workforce. Special Emphasis Programs were strengthened by two Executive Orders. In 1969, Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, established the Equal Employment Opportunity Program, and implemented the policy of the Federal government to provide equal opportunity in employment to all individuals regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or age. In 2011, Executive Order 13583, Establishing a Coordinated Government-wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce, enhanced several Executive Orders, including EO 11478, by establishing that as the Nation's largest employer, the Federal Government has a special obligation to lead by example in attaining a diverse, qualified workforce. Our Nation derives strength from the diversity of its population and from its commitment to equal opportunity for all. Therefore, a commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the Federal Government as an employer.

Why are Special Emphasis Programs Important?

Special Emphasis Programs are an integral part of the Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights Program. Their purpose is to ensure that agencies take affirmative steps to provide equal opportunity to everyone in all areas of employment and eliminate discriminatory practices and policies. Through various initiatives, the programs address the unique concerns of specific groups in achieving diversity, inclusion, and equality of opportunity in recruitment, hiring, development, training, and advancement.

The Smithsonian Institution is committed to ensuring a work environment that values fairness, respect, and equal opportunity for all employees, job applicants, and affiliated individuals. To this end, the Institution continues to demonstrate commitment to equal employment opportunity through our EEO Policy Statement. It is the policy of the Smithsonian Institution to provide equal opportunity to all employees, applicants for employment, and affiliated persons (e.g., Interns, Research Associates, Fellows, and Volunteers) without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or pregnancy (including childbirth, or related medical conditions) 

Additional Special Emphasis Resources

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