Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives in Washington State – Update 2021
January 11, 2022
In response to inquiries about racial and social justice policies and the rise of social justice activism across the country, MRSC previously wrote about how local governments can integrate diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) in new and existing policies. This article will provide updates on DCI’s new and innovative efforts in Washington State.
There are several avenues available for local governments looking to develop DCI initiatives in their communities, including internal and external initiatives designed to promote DCI values. This blog highlights local government initiatives that are primarily racial equity focused and includes methods for community outreach and DCI analysis.
Start an IED program
The initiatives described in this section offer starting points that local governments can consider when developing their own DCI initiatives. Each example includes a basic description and highlights important aspects.
The development of a community DCI commission or working group is important to develop effective local government solutions. The Town of Bainbridge Island began its DCI work by establishing an Internal Race and Equity Working Group, which ultimately became a separate Advisory Committee (pursuant to Order No. 2020-23) at the end of 2020. Codified as an advisory committee on racial equity in Chapter 2.72 of the city’s municipal code, the nine-member committee is charged with a variety of responsibilities, including helping the city implement goals and policies related to the city. racial equity, recommend a racial equity action plan and implementation strategy, provide public education and awareness, and support fairness-related audits of city policies and procedures.
In the fall of 2020, the city of Olympia recruited four community members from historically marginalized and under-represented communities to form a task force that would study the development of a commission to address social justice issues. , human rights and equity in the city. The task force presented its report to Olympia City Council in November 2021, and the same month the council approved the establishment of the Commission for Social Justice and Equity, tasking it with “eliminating racism and to respect human rights for a fair and equitable Olympia for all. ”The city is recruiting advisers and plans to start meetings as early as April 2022.
Local authorities can also start to develop their DCI initiatives through statements from heads of administration. In October 2020, Kent City Mayor Dana Ralph issued a Mayor’s Directive directing all city departments and employees to take specific action to advance issues of race and equity. In December of the same year, the city hired its first interim director of racing and fairness to manage the creation of a strategic equity plan with input from the city council, the Council of Cultural Communities (an advisory group trained in 2015), community leaders and other stakeholders.
Shoreline Resolution # 467 details the city’s anti-racist commitments, including the development of initiatives to promote DCI. This resolution became the basic policy of the city’s goals of equity and social justice.
Seattle has pioneered DCI’s efforts through its Race and Social Justice Initiative and has developed tools that can serve as a model for others, such as the Seattle Racial Equity Toolkit. As a political example, the Seattle Gender Justice Project aims to improve gender equity and promote inclusive practices in internal and external municipal policies. This program is led by the Civil Rights Office in collaboration with external community partners.
DEI Toolkits and Guides
DCI Toolkits and Guides are what local governments use to create new DCI programs or integrate DCI considerations into their existing policies. Effective examples are listed below.
Racial Equity Toolkit
The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Racial Equity Toolkit (2016) is frequently used by local governments in Washington to identify and address equity disparities and solutions. . This toolkit identifies relevant internal and external parts to be addressed using an IED framework. It also includes a step-by-step process to identify and implement DCI’s goals using data analysis, community engagement, and planning. Finally, the toolkit identifies common barriers to DCI policies and how best to overcome them.
Equity Resource Guide
The Association of Washington Cities Equity Resource Guide (2021) includes internal and external initiatives for cities to consider when implementing DCI initiatives and integrating them into existing policies. This guide also features studies on DCI budgeting, housing, transportation, human resources, criminal justice, and democratic access. Each case study describes modern practices to reduce inequalities and promote DCI values. There is also a methodology to assess the equity results of each initiative.
Measuring the impact of DCI initiatives requires quantitative and qualitative analysis that can accurately reflect changes within the community. Quantitative data identifies outcomes as numerical data and observations and is more effective in determining if and where inequalities exist. Qualitative data is collected through awareness-raising efforts, such as surveys or interviews, and is intended to determine the causes of inequalities. Further information on inequality analysis is available in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Data Guidance for Analyzing Racial and Ethnic Inequities in Homelessness Crisis Response Systems (2020).
Using Equity Data for Quantitative Analysis
Data visualization is a common technique for measuring the occurrence and severity of inequalities. The Pierce County Fairness Index map uses geographic data to visualize measures of fairness across the county. This includes equity in education, health, demographics, and other important indicators. More information on the methodology and data collection used in this tool is available on the Tacoma Equity Index webpage.
Local governments can also use data-driven approaches to ensure fairness in law enforcement activities. The Pierce County Criminal Justice Dashboard illustrates demographics for arrests and reservations to provide a higher level of transparency.
The King County RapidRide Fare Enforcement Report (2018) uses data to assess the equity effects of transit citations on people who are homeless or unstable in housing. This report provides a qualitative background and recommendations for reducing inequalities in the application of tariffs, recommendations that the agency has since put into practice.
Using equity data for qualitative analysis
Community outreach and engagement strategies are used to collect qualitative data from those who experience inequalities. Techniques such as interviews and community surveys help local governments determine which specific inequalities impact a community and refine more specific policy responses.
Bothell’s DCI survey results show how to conduct DCI staff and community outreach to understand community needs and demographics. This example provides feedback to the community and staff on DCI projects for both internal and external considerations.
Below are examples of specific policies to improve community DCI:
For more information or assistance, see these MRSC web pages:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources for Local Governments – Provides resources, tools and sample materials related to state-based local government DCI efforts.
- Language Access – Provides language access requirements and resources for use by local governments in Washington State, including information on civil rights compliance issues related to limited fluency in English, language access plans, language requirements for voting rights, court requirements and other language services.
- Community Engagement Resources – Highlights a variety of approaches for obtaining public input and for involving citizens in the development of plans and programs that significantly affect their lives.
MRSC is a private, non-profit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible Washington State government agencies can use our free, one-to-one MRSC inquiry service to get answers to legal, political, or financial questions.