Diversity, Justice and Inclusion Initiatives in Washington State – Update 2021

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January 11, 2022
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Nick Fisher



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Inclusive communities
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Guest author


In response to inquiries about race and social justice policies and the rise in social justice activism across the country, MRSC previously wrote about how local governments can incorporate diversity, justice and inclusion (DEI) into new and existing policies. This post provides updates on new and innovative DEI efforts in Washington state.

Local governments looking to build DEI initiatives in their communities have several avenues, including both internal and external initiatives to promote DEI values. This blog highlights local government initiatives that are primarily focused on racial justice and includes methodology for public relations and DEI analysis.

Starting a DEI program

The initiatives outlined in this section provide starting points for local governments to consider when developing their own DEI initiatives. Each example contains a basic description and highlights important aspects.

Bainbridge Island

The development of a local DEI commission or task force is important for the development of effective local administrative solutions. The City of Bainbridge Island began its DEI work with the establishment of an internal working group on Race and Equality, which eventually became a separate advisory committee (as of Regulation No. 2020-23) End of 2020. Codified as Race Equity Advisory Committee in Chapter 2.72 of the city’s municipal code, the nine-member committee is entrusted with a variety of tasks, including assisting the city in implementing goals and policies related to racial equality, recommending an action plan and implementation strategy for racial equality, providing education, and outreach , and assisting with the review of policies and procedures related to the city’s equity.

Olympia

In the fall of 2020, the city of Olympia recruited four parishioners from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to form a working group to investigate the development of a commission dealing with issues of social justice, human rights and equality in the city. In November 2021, the working group presented its report to the Olympic City Council, which in the same month initiated the establishment of the Social Justice and Justice Commission, with the mandate to “eliminate racism and fulfill human rights for a fair Olympics for all people”. The city is currently recruiting consultants and expects meetings to begin as early as April 2022.

Kent

Local governments can also start developing their DEI initiatives through statements from administrative managers. In October 2020, Kent City Mayor Dana Ralph, a Instruction from the mayor Instructing all city departments and staff to take specific action to promote racial and justice issues. In December of the same year, the city presented its first Interim Race and Equity Manager the preparation of a strategic equity plan with contributions from the city council to manage the Board of the cultural communities (an advisory group founded in 2015), community leaders, and other stakeholders.

Coastline

Coastline Resolution No. 467 describes the city’s anti-racist commitments, including developing initiatives to promote DEI. This resolution has become the basic policy of the city Justice and social justice goals.

Seattle

Seattle was through his Race and Social Justice Initiative and has developed tools that can serve as models for others, such as Seattle Racial Equity Toolkit. As a political example is the Seattle Gender Justice Project aims to improve gender equality and promote inclusive practices in internal and external urban politics. This program is supported by the Office for Citizens’ Rights in cooperation with external community partners.

DEI toolkits and guides

DEI Toolkits and Guides are what local governments use to create new DEI programs or to incorporate DEI considerations into their existing policies. Effective examples are given below.

Racial Equity Toolkit

The Government Alliance for Race and Equality (GARE) Racial Equity Toolkit (2016) is widely used by local governments in Washington to identify and address equity differences and solutions. This toolkit identifies relevant internal and external parties that need to be addressed using a DEI framework. It also includes a step-by-step process of identifying and implementing DEI goals using data analysis, community engagement, and planning. Finally, the toolkit identifies common barriers to DEI guidelines and how best to address them.

Equity Resource Guide

The Association of Washington Cities Equity Resource Guide (2021) includes internal and external initiatives that cities should consider when implementing DEI initiatives and integrating them into existing policies. This guide also presents studies on DEI budget, housing, transportation, human resources, criminal justice and democratic access. Each case study describes modern practices for reducing inequality and promoting DEI scores. There is also a methodology for assessing the equal opportunity outcomes of each initiative.

DEI evaluation

Measuring the impact of DEI initiatives requires quantitative and qualitative analysis that can accurately reflect changes within the community. Quantitative data identify outcomes in the form of numerical data and observations and are more effective in determining if and where inequalities exist. Qualitative data are collected through outreach measures such as surveys or interviews and are intended to determine the causes of inequality. For more information on analyzing inequality, see Data Guide for Analyzing Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Crisis Response Systems for Homelessness (2020) of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Using stock data for quantitative analysis

Data visualization is a common technique for measuring the occurrence and severity of inequality. the Pierce County Stock Index Map uses geographic data to visualize equity actions across the county. These include equity in education, health, population demographics and other important indicators. For more information on the methodology and data collection used in this tool, please visit the Tacoma stock index Website.

Local governments can also use data approaches to ensure justice in law enforcement. the Pierce County Criminal Justice Dashboard displays demographic data for arrests and bookings to provide greater transparency.

the King County RapidRide Fare Enforcement Report (2018) uses data to assess the equal opportunities effects of transit times on people affected by homelessness or residential instability. This report provides a qualitative context and recommendations for reducing inequality in tariff enforcement, recommendations that the agency has since made put into practice.

Using stock data for qualitative analysis

Public outreach strategies and community engagement strategies are used to collect qualitative data from people with inequalities. Techniques such as interviews and community surveys help local governments determine which specific inequalities are affecting a community and find more specific policy responses.

Bothell’s DEI survey results demonstrate how to conduct the DEI targeting of staff and communities to understand the needs and demographics of the community. This example provides community and staff feedback on DEI projects for internal and external considerations.

Policy examples

Below are specific sample guidelines for improving the community’s DEI:

Additional resources

For more information or assistance, visit these MRSC websites:

  • Local Government Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Resources – Provides resources, tools, and sample documents on state local government DEI efforts.
  • Language Access – Provides language access requirements and resources for use by local governments in Washington state, including information on civil rights issues related to limited English proficiency, language access plans, language requirements related to voting rights, court requirements, and other language services.
  • Community Engagement Resources – Highlights a variety of approaches to obtaining public feedback and engaging citizens in creating plans and programs that will make a difference in their lives.

MRSC is a private, not-for-profit organization serving local government in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington state can use our free Ask MRSC in-person service to obtain answers to legal, political, or financial questions.

About Nick Fisher

Nick joined MRSC as a Policy Intern in June 2021. He is working on his Masters in Public Policy from the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, specializing in environmental policy and program design and evaluation.

Nick’s previous experience includes internships with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Riverside Public Utilities, and the City of Del Mar. He has worked in the fields of climate change, energy, sustainability, and public affairs.

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