A ‘how-to’ on promoting Equity and Social Justice

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned Lunch and Learn session for comradery, sharing ideas and learning what your colleagues have been up to. Unless it comes during a pandemic where everyone is working from home and lunch is maybe a can of soup. Despite the lack of in-person interaction, the Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) has made a success of their Lunch and Learn series on their equity and social justice programs.  

WLRD, affectionately referred to as “Willard” and a division of the Department and Natural Resources and Parks, launched this series in April to spotlight equity and social justice (ESJ) programs and projects within the division.

Engineer Training intern Mirielle Fogang gained valuable experience doing field work.

“The events provide an opportunity to share successful ESJ work and ideas for operationalizing ESJ while building change agent capacity and community to sustain the ESJ effort,” said Janet Credo, an ESJ lead in WLRD.

The ideas for improving ESJ standards within the agency range from the creative to the practical, such as the ESJ Hiring Best Practices Guide developed by the River and Floodplain Management Section to the 1% for ESJ pilot project in the Wastewater Treatment Division.    

One program that has had great success is the ESJ Engineer Training Internship Program. According to Claire Jonson, Senior Engineer in WLRD, who serves as the facilitator of these Lunch and Learns, they were able to fund long-term internships lasting up to two years. Although the pandemic temporarily paused the program in spring 2021, staff and interns were able to adapt in a work-from-home environment by May 2020.

“The program boasts a 100% success rate of all interns finding full-time employment in the field of engineering after graduation, including with King County. We consider that a huge success,” she said.

Besides the increased diverse recruitment focus, there are other ongoing programs and those in development geared toward education and information.

“We’re creating a network of ESJ change leaders across the agency,” Janet said. “And we plan to continue to provide these opportunities to showcase uplifiting, exciting and innovative ideas that will continue our mission of moving toward an equity- and socially-just organization.”