Sonoma County’s collective well-being and prosperity are impacted by significant racial inequities. By focusing on racial equity and social justice in the Strategic Plan, the Board of Supervisors can begin to institutionalize equity and address disparate impacts on people of color both internally as an organization and in the community.
Equity is an outcome whereby you can’t tell the difference in critical markers of health, well-being, and wealth by race or ethnicity, and a process whereby we explicitly value the voices of people of color, low income, and other underrepresented and underserved communities who identify solutions to achieve that outcome.
Data shows that the greatest disparities occur along racial and socio-economic lines. If Sonoma County wants to start closing those gaps, we have to start there. Research and best practices nationally show that successful equity programs begin with a focus on race. This allows you to develop a framework, with which you can then expand to broader equity issues, including sexual orientation, gender, and ability.
County staff have been working to address social and racial equity issues. In 2018, the County joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), and participants from 12County departments created Sonoma County Racial Equity Alliance and Leadership (SoCoREAL).
Additionally, County Latinx employees have formed the Sonoma County Latinx Employee Resource Network (SoCoLERN). And in July 2020, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a new Office of Equity, and appointed a permanent Director of the Office of Equity in September 2020.
Foster a County organizational culture that supports the commitment to achieving racial equity.
Establish an Equity Core Team by mid-2021 to advance equity initiatives across all departments in collaboration with the Office of Equity.
Invest in an ongoing and continually developing racial equity learning program, including understanding the distinction between institutional, structural, interpersonal, and individual racism, for County leadership and staff by end of 2021.
Conduct a baseline assessment by mid-2022 of racial equity awareness and understanding among County staff and develop a process to assess progress annually.
Develop a shared understanding of key racial equity concepts across the County and its leadership.
Implement strategies to make the County workforce reflect County demographic across all levels.
Identify opportunities to enhance recruitment, hiring, employee development, and promotional processes to reflect the value of having the perspectives of people of color represented at all levels in the County workforce.
Implement countywide strategies to recruit, hire, develop, promote and retain County employees of color, produce an annual report card assessing progress, and update strategies as needed.
Ensure racial equity throughout all County policy decisions and service delivery.
Establish a racial equity analysis tool by 2022 for departments to use for internal decision-making, policy decisions and implementation, and service delivery.
Establish regular and publicly available reports on racial equity in County policies, programs, and services.
Engage community members and stakeholder groups to develop priorities and to advance racial equity.
Establish a process for engagement and collaboration with community members and stakeholder groups, and launch a community engagement strategy by the end of 2022 with a focus on racial equity.
Collaborate with community members and stakeholder groups to develop racial equity strategies for County emergency response, economic recovery and resiliency planning efforts.
Begin implementing strategies for regular community engagement to guide racial equity efforts.
Develop and establish a language access policy for the County of Sonoma by end of 2021.