Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Washington County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative
Washington County’s mission is to provide excellent and cost-effective services that support healthy, peaceful, safe and sustainable communities; and encourage meaningful participation in community activities and County governance. To help meet these challenges, the County launched its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative, a two-to-five-year process to deliver equitable outcomes throughout the County’s programs, budgets, decision-making and service delivery.
The County’s DEI initiative is propelled by previous work by community advocates and partner organizations, such as Centro Cultural, Adelante Mujeres, the Coalition of Communities of Color and Vision Action Network. These and many others have contributed to Washington County’s awareness of disparate outcomes, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, that have long existed within Washington County.
In 2016, the Coalition of Communities of Color launched a research project to:
create a proactive effort to bring racial justice to Washington County so that every community flourishes, and
unite people and stakeholders across the County in collective action for the advancement of racial justice and community-building.
In 2018, the Coalition released its extensive report, “Leading with Race: Research Justice in Washington County,” which details:
- the lived experiences of eight communities of color and ethnic groups in Washington County,
- data snapshots of four jurisdictions within the County that identify key socio-economic outcomes for communities of color living in those cities, and
- a Call to Action that implores readers to take recommended actions based on the findings in this report.
Previous work by County staff and leadership also contribute to this important work. In 2018, the County Administrative Office (CAO) convened the DEI Think Tank, a group of CAO, Community Engagement and Support Services staff tasked with identifying strategies to develop a more diverse workforce and create a more inclusive organizational culture, with a focus on the County’s human resources and procurement programs and systems.
The Think Tank’s work resulted in several recommendations which the Washington County Board of Commissioners accepted on March 19, 2019.
Both the Coalition and the Think Tank recommended that the County create and implement the DEI initiative with methods focused on operationalizing racial equity across the County.
Where we are now
In addition to internal, ongoing staff-led equity work, the Board of Commissioners has begun working with a DEI and community engagement consulting firm, Espousal Strategies, to enrich their leadership capacity and provide technical assistance for creating a county-wide equity policy and resolution. In addition to executive coaching, Espousal will also conduct extensive interviews with staff and community partners to inform the Board’s leadership development and their vision for racial equity.
On September 17, the Board received an update on Espousal’s work to date, including structured interviews with the Board Chair’s DEI team.
The County’s first-ever staff Equity Committee convened on September 19 to begin providing recommendations to County leaders about DEI needs and strategies.
In the coming months, more detail will be provided about Washington County’s DEI initiative, including information about the work of the Board of Commissioners, collaboration with community partners and staff-led efforts to operationalize diversity, equity and inclusion across all aspects of the County’s public service mission.
Please direct any questions or feedback to CPO@co.washington.or.us or call 503-846-6288.
- Recommendation to Board of Commissioners for Internal DEI Efforts | DEI Think Tank (March 2019)
- Washington County Strategic Plan | 2020
- Washington County Affirmative Action Plan
- Leading with Race: Research Justice in Washington County | Coalition of Communities of Color (2018). Executive Summary and Full Report available online.