Racial Equity and Social Justice

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

Why is Racial Equity a Strategic Plan Pillar?

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.

What do you mean by Equity?

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.

Why Start with Racial Equity?

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.

Racial Equity Work at the County

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.

  • Goal 1
  • Goal 2
  • Goal 3
  • Goal 4

Racial Equity and Social Justice: Goal 1 

Foster a County organizational culture that supports the commitment to achieving racial equity.

Objective 1:

Establish an Equity Core Team by mid-2021 to advance equity initiatives across all departments in collaboration with the Office of Equity.

The Equity Core Team represents the beginning of operationalizing equity in the County. The Core Team is a cohort of diverse County staff from different departments and levels. The Core Team will receive equity training, form affinity groups, and have the option to receive train-the-trainer training to facilitate further equity learning among County staff and departments.

Objective 2:

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.

A County Race Equity Learning Program will be developed in conjunction with a consultant. The program will include Equity Core Team training, department heads and supervisor training, and development of a video for the training of County employees. The program will also provide departmental support for employee resource groups focusing on racial equity and social justice. Note: Objectives 1-2 and 1-4 are merged into the same implementation plan.

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.

A baseline assessment of racial equity awareness and understanding among County staff will be achieved through a combination of staff and leadership surveys, data/demographic analyses, and establishment of recruitment metrics in conjunction with HR.

Objective 4:

Develop a shared understanding of key racial equity concepts across the County and its leadership.

A County Race Equity Learning Program will be developed in conjunction with a consultant. The program will include Equity Core Team training, department heads and supervisor training, and development of a video for the training of County employees. The program will also provide departmental support for employee resource groups focusing on racial equity and social justice. Note: Objectives 1-2 and 1-4 are merged into the same implementation plan.

Racial Equity and Social Justice: Goal 2 

Implement strategies to make the County workforce reflect County demographic across all levels.

Objective 1:

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.

In striving to increase the diversity of the County workforce, the County will increase advertising and outreach, evaluate recruitment processes, develop tools to mitigate biases during the department selection process, increase professional development and equity training for County employees, revitalize the County’s internship program, and develop tracking tools to evaluate progress. Note: Objectives 2-1 and 2-2 are merged into the same implementation plan.

Objective 2:

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.

In striving to increase the diversity of the County workforce, the County will increase advertising and outreach, evaluate recruitment processes, develop tools to mitigate biases during the department selection process, increase professional development and equity training for County employees, revitalize the County’s internship program, and develop tracking tools to evaluate progress. Note: Objectives 2-1 and 2-2 are merged into the same implementation plan.

Racial Equity and Social Justice: Goal 3 

Ensure racial equity throughout all County policy decisions and service delivery.

Objective 1:

Establish a racial equity analysis tool by 2022 for departments to use for internal decision-making, policy decisions and implementation, and service delivery.

In partnership with the CAO, the Office of Equity will utilize GARE’s racial equity toolbox to evaluate policies or significant Board items, educate the Board on fundamental questions from toolbox, and determine whether customization of the tool is needed once it has been in use for a meaningful length of time.

Objective 2:

Establish regular and publicly available reports on racial equity in County policies, programs, and services.

Working in conjunction with the CAO and departments through their Equity Core Team representatives, the Office of Equity will establish processes and mechanisms to collect County performance measures on racial equity.

Racial Equity and Social Justice: Goal 4

Engage community members and stakeholder groups to develop priorities and to advance racial equity.

Objective 1:

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.

The County will establish foundational elements of community engagement by working with a consultant to evaluate the County’s current state of engagement and departmental needs, facilitate input from community members, and co-create a Community Engagement Plan with the community for the Board’s consideration. Additionally, the County will establish a community engagement work group and prioritize emergency response, recovery and resiliency racial equity strategies. Note: Objectives 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 are merged into the same objective because they all involve formalizing foundational elements of community engagement.

Objective 2:

Collaborate with community members and stakeholder groups to develop racial equity strategies for County emergency response, economic recovery and resiliency planning efforts.

The County will establish foundational elements of community engagement by working with a consultant to evaluate the County’s current state of engagement and departmental needs, facilitate input from community members, and co-create a Community Engagement Plan with the community for the Board’s consideration. Additionally, the County will establish a community engagement work group and prioritize emergency response, recovery and resiliency racial equity strategies. Note: Objectives 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 are merged into the same objective because they all involve formalizing foundational elements of community engagement.

Objective 3:

Begin implementing strategies for regular community engagement to guide racial equity efforts.

The County will establish foundational elements of community engagement by working with a consultant to evaluate the County’s current state of engagement and departmental needs, facilitate input from community members, and co-create a Community Engagement Plan with the community for the Board’s consideration. Additionally, the County will establish a community engagement work group and prioritize emergency response, recovery and resiliency racial equity strategies. Note: Objectives 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 are merged into the same objective because they all involve formalizing foundational elements of community engagement.

Objective 4:

Develop and establish a language access policy for the County of Sonoma by end of 2021.

Working with consultant to gather information on the County’s non-dominant language speakers, the Office of Equity will evaluate departmental and agency needs, develop a report on the infrastructure and capacity of the County to implement a language access policy, conduct a policy workshop to Board, and deliver related training to the community.