Workforce equity demands that the County identify and address structural and policy barriers to equal employment opportunity faced by our employees and communities because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation and other protected classes. County employees across the organization have stepped forward to develop a strategic plan and help create a workplace where everyone can reach their full potential.
Chair Kafoury's statement on the Workforce Equity Strategic Plan
We pride ourselves on providing excellent service and support to people in our community each and every day. This work is strengthened when Multnomah County employees receive that same level of care and concern from our leadership and from one another.
As I reflect on this document, and on the energy, passion and wisdom of the many people who helped create this plan, I am even more committed to putting this work into practice. Disparate employee experiences and disparate treatment cannot continue. I recognize how far we have to go in order to realize a vision where every employee feels valued and can thrive.
We are not immune to impacts of racism and other systems of oppression simply because of the important work we do or the values we espouse. But I know that these challenges our employees face are not inevitable. With investments and focused strategies, accountability and care, we can move these metrics. As a leader, I am committed to modeling the behaviors and practices that reflect an organizational culture that creates a sense of safety, trust and belonging for every employee and client we serve.
This Workforce Equity Strategic Plan represents a baseline and starting point for our organization. Collectively, we will address long-standing issues and concerns while lifting up those practices that are working. There is so much we do well, and yet so much opportunity to be better.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to serve in this role in this critical time, and I am thankful for all of the employees who have provided their stories and ideas to generate strategies that can move us forward. I want to especially thank the Employee Resource Group members for their tireless collaboration, optimism and leadership, and the Office of Diversity and Equity staff for their steadfast handling of this process.
In solidarity and support,
Chair Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Employee Resource Group Leaders' statement on the Workforce Equity Strategic Plan
To our fellow employees,
As Leadership in Multnomah County’s eight Employee Resource Groups (ERG), representing employees and managers of color, immigrant and refugees, employees with disabilities, LGBTQ employees, families, veterans, and older adults, this message is directed to the thousands of employees who are reflected in this plan.
We entered collectively into this process with hope and trepidation. This wasn’t the first time that Multnomah County asked us to share our stories, or surveyed us for our experiences. We have seen previous efforts start and stop. And we hope and expect that this time is different.
On September 14, 2017, the board adopted the Workforce Equity Resolution which outlined a vision and laid out the urgency for why this effort is so critical. Employees were there to share their experiences, and through our stories, the impacts and needs were clear. We have to address issues of race, gender identity, disability and other workforce inequities through targeted investment, education and training, and shift the organizational culture that negatively impacts much of our workforce.
Through this process, we have been able to lead this work with the Office of Diversity and Equity. It was our groups that created spaces for the most impacted employees to bring not just their stories, but their ideas. By hosting listening sessions, analyzing data, and developing strategies that both informed high level, county-wide standards and created room for departments to innovate and be courageous with new ideas and approaches, we feel that our efforts will result in positive change.
It is our deeply held belief that those who are most impacted should be the drivers of change in our organization, and we commit ourselves to working across job classifications, from front line to our most senior level staff, to create the organization so many of us can envision, and yet has not been realized.
The late Harvey Milk once said, “Hope will never be silent.” We carry this message, knowing that we will continue to push, to lead, to support and to challenge. Hope is one of our most powerful attributes and it carries us across our intersecting identities.
We thank Chair Kafoury, the Board of County Commissioners, Department heads, and managers and supervisors for walking alongside us in this work, and look forward to continuing to build capacity across our Employee Resource Groups for lasting and continued advancement of equity.
In solidarity, Multnomah County ERG Leaders