Racial Equity and Social Justice

Achieve racial equity in County service provision and ensure a workforce reflective of the community we serve.

Goal 1, Objective 3

Conduct a baseline assessment by mid-2022 of racial equity awareness and understanding among County staff and develop a process to assess progress annually.

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

Multiple assessments have been completed from two of the consulting firms which have worked with the Office of Equity; Equity First Consulting and Just Process. The OOE will continue to work with the Core Team Steering Committee to develop mechanisms to assess progress on the strategies that will be included in the REAP as a result of the recommendations included in both assessments.

Background: Rather than assessing staff who have not yet received training or familiarization with equity principles and implementation skills, the Office of Equity proposed to assess the impact of having received training, as well as to collect feedback on the parts of the training that need adjustment or additional areas of focus or attention.

In FY 21-22, the Core Team members worked in racial affinity groups – white, Black, and Non-Black People of Color – to build safe and brave spaces to create the conditions for learning and teaching foundational equity principles and skills.  In the Fall of 2021, Core Team members worked in three affinity groups to develop an intentional learning community and to build relationships across the County. Beginning in January, 2022, the Core Team began the Race Equity Foundations series and finished at the beginning of June, 2022.  These sessions were followed by focused training of two Core Team cohorts further developing their skills in facilitating conversations about racial equity and Anti-Racist Results Based Accountability. A third cohort became the current Core Team Steering Committee.

The final deliverable from our Learning Consultant Just Process included an assessment of our work together, which was presented in October of 2022, along with several recommendations as to how to continue to expand and enhance racial equity work across the County.

Their high level recommendations for the County were as follows:


  1. Take a bold stand and commit to advancing racial equity within and across Sonoma County
  2. Work with the Office of Equity and Core Team members to identify institutional patterns of racism and take responsibility for addressing harm
  3. This work takes time. Make a lasting organizational commitment to advancing racial equity work as a county-wide imperative


  1. In collaboration with OOE & the Core Team, decide what equitable outcomes Sonoma County wants to prioritize (internally and externally)
  2. Prioritize outcomes and develop, support, and fund a comprehensive Racial Equity Action Plan
  3. Dedicate resources to ongoing, comprehensive capacity building for existing and new Core Team members starting with continuing to resource Affinity-based work


  1. Develop infrastructure and policies to meet commitment and goals across departments
  2. Build support and make a plan for mitigating resistance to change with stakeholders


  1. Build Capacity as a long-term strategy
  2. Implement Rewards and Interventions
  3. Adopt Inclusive Practices
  4. Test & Monitor Progress and Adjust Strategies as Needed

In June 2023, the OOE contracted with Equity First Consulting (EFC) to support the creation of a Countywide Racial Equity Action Plan, which will include some of these recommendations, and additionally requested that EFC assess Core Team members’ experiences in their participation in the Racial Equity Learning Program. EFC conducted interviews with past and present Core Team members, as well as focus groups with active participants in the three different affinity groups (Black, Non-Black People of Color and White), and presented the following recommendations:

  1. Develop ongoing professionally facilitated spaces for learning and connection. Core Team members resoundingly found affinity groups to be critical to their development as County employees.
  2. Utilize an Anti-Racist framework to assess, develop, implement, evaluate and refine the County’s institutionalization of equity within its systems.
  3. Develop systems and practices to enhance cross-departmental collaboration that supports shared accountability. Core Team members found that learning about equity efforts happening within and across departments was extremely helpful to their work within the Core Team and within their departments.
  4. Develop transparent and multidirectional communication mechanisms throughout the County’s Hierarchy to ensure timely and effective dissemination of information and feedback.
  5. Enhance clarity of roles and responsibilities of Core Team members, including who they are representing when engaging in Core Team activities, and what their responsibility is as Core Team members within their respective departments.

With both these reports received, the OOE will work on developing a process and associated costs to assess progress and report progress annually, through the creation of a Racial Equity Action Plan.

Key milestone update (include relevant metrics, if applicable)

Now that the OOE has received both the assessment on how to continue to expand racial equity work within the County of Sonoma as well as an assessment of the experiences of Core Team members, the Office and the Steering Committee have begun their work to connect the foundational recommendations of both of these reports to the development of the County’s Racial Equity Action Plan, which will include accountability and reporting mechanisms to track the County’s progress in these areas. The Office of Equity has the support of a Strategic Plan funded Program Planning and Evaluation Analyst to support pieces of this work.

Coordination and partnership update

The OOE will continue to work with all of the departments represented in the Core Team as well as with department heads and staff as the development of a Countywide Racial Equity Action Plan moves forward.

Community, equity and climate update

By engaging anti-racist principles in data-driven decision making, we are embedding equity into the day-to-day work of the County of Sonoma.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

There have been no funding allocations directly targeting the development of a process or tracking systems to assess progress on the recommendations of these assessments.  A countywide tracking tool or service will require ongoing investment to reflect  the ways in which an assessment would need to change to meet the changing status and advancements in racial equity work.