King County Pro-equity Actions

You, as an employee may have different (and better) approaches; but here are some first steps about how you can incorporate the four pro-equity actions in your work at the County. For each approach ask “how will I advance this pro-equity action with the urgency needed to help address the public health crisis which is racism?” If we do these things every day, individually and collectively, WE WILL make a difference and WE WILL reach our True North of “Making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive.”

  1. Share power.

Sharing power requires intentionality. It will not happen just because we want it to. Until it becomes automatic, it will require work. Think about the people in the community and your colleagues who are directly harmed by racism and other “isms.” Honor the brilliance and the resiliency of these communities by centering and uplifting their voices.

How are we sharing power at King County?

We have established an Equity Cabinet to partner with and advise the County on how to ensure that our policies, practices, and outcomes align with our intention to lead with equity and racial and social justice.

How will you share power?

  • Interrupt business as usual.

We must interrupt the business as usual practices that maintain the systems, structures, and workplace culture that do not advance belonging, true equity, and racial justice. To interrupt them, we have to identify them. In every situation, ask: What about this situation or actions truly advance(s) equity and racial justice?” If you don’t have an answer, that’s a place to examine further. Then ask, “What can I do to advance equity and racial justice?” Then do that.

How are we interrupting business as usual at King County?

The Executive’s Office is working with Public Health and Jail Health, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and community organizations to divert approximately 1,000 non-violent, first-felony filings from the judicial system. Instead of maintaining the business as usual system, these individuals (who are disproportionately young men of color) will have the opportunity to benefit from a community-based alternative that emphasizes restorative justice and restoration for harmed parties.

How will you interrupt business as usual?

  • Replace it with something better.

Removing something bad doesn’t guarantee that something good will replace it. We must take action to ensure that pro-equity and anti-racist approaches, policies, and programs that advance racial equity replace those that don’t. 

How are we replacing our business as usual with something better in King County?

The Office of Equity and Social Justice consults with, advises, supports, and trains King County teams to effectively use the Equity Impact Review (EIR) process to center community partnerships and engagement to create pro-equity policies, programs, and practices. The EIR process has been used to develop Open Space EquityMobility FrameworkMetro’s Subsidized Annual Pass, and Public Health-Seattle & King County’s Food Safety Rating System, among many other areas.

What will you replace with something better?

  • Get comfortable with discomfort.

Change isn’t easy, and growth is even harder. Strive to become a change agent and exercise your voice, individually and collectively. We are asking our employees to stretch past your own personal comfort to ensure King County is a welcoming place where every person can thrive. This means, sacrificing our own comfort to address racism – because it IS a public health crisis.  For too long, we have considered equity and social justice the responsibility of a designated person or a group. As public servants, we are all responsible for supporting all members of our community.

How is King County is getting comfortable with discomfort?

When racism was declared a public health crisis, a diverse and brilliant group of professionals from across the Executive Branch – known as the Racism is a Public Health Crisis (RPCH) Core Team – was formed to help the Executive address the public health crisis of racism. The Executive centered and uplifted their voices and expertise to develop the 2021-2022 “down payment” budget and policy agenda.

King County is getting comfortable with discomfort in numerous ways, including acceptance of the truth of the following Racism is a Public Health Crisis Core Team Guiding Principle: “We will recognize equity demands sacrifice and redistribution of power and resources to break systems of oppression, heal continuing wounds, and realize justice.”

How will you stretch your comfort to address the public health crisis of racism?