Empowering employees to prioritize Equity and Social Justice 

The Solid Waste Division is helping build a more equitable and just King County by empowering its employees with new equity and social justice awareness and skills through a series of interactive training sessions.

The Solid Waste Division (SWD) of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks engaged employees in 12 open discussion sessions where they went through the fundamentals of equity and social justice (ESJ) and what it means to establish a pro-equity environment where every person can thrive – internally and in the community.

“I saw this awareness throughout the division grow,” Alejandra Calderon, Program Manager of Solid Waste Division and ESJ lead, said. “It’s changing the culture, and people are starting to understand that ESJ is a part of us, I’m seeing the change of how we work.”

Providing inclusive learning opportunities has its challenges in SWD, where employees – especially those in Operation, are dispersed across 10 different locations, and have limited access to email and their colleagues. Division managers made sure that all employees had the opportunity to participate, providing staffing back up and dividing the trainings into different sessions so that all employees, and leveraging existing mandatory training events to include core ESJ training.

Sessions were interactive and employees had the opportunity to ask questions, discuss, and learn from division managers and one another about ESJ fundamentals. The training helped staff understand the importance of ESJ and how they can incorporate it into their daily work.

The results speak for themselves: the percentage of SWD employees who participated in ESJ training increased from 2% in 2017 to 85% in 2018.

“There were many people involved in making sure we were successful and got the word out for ESJ training,” Alejandra said. “All section managers are very involved in equity and social justice, so it trickles down with them.”

The Solid Waste Division is moving forward to discuss how ESJ can be incorporated in every employee’s role, so all employees understand how to incorporate ESJ work in every step of a project or service.