What is an equity framework?
We're seeing an increased focus on local governments working towards more equity in their communities. One important tool is for governments, such as counties to adopt an equity framework that would guide all decision-making.
Everything from internal human resources, road commission policies, to funding decisions would have a filter and racial, gender, and geographic equity. Here's a example out of Seattle, looking how a complaint-based system has a racial-bias, believe it or not.
How could it work in Washtenaw County?
We're just starting to explore what it can look like for our community. There are some great examples we're following up with - in particular King County in Washington. King County passed a "fair and just" ordinance in 2010, and since then has developed a toolkit to guide internal and external decision, with the requirement of reviewing all decisions with a lens of racial equity.
Washtenaw County is exploring an ordinance and process similar to King County in 2016. Take a look at this two-page intro to the effort, or take a look at our current powerpoint describing the need for an equity framework in Washtenaw County.
While we intend to look internally at Washtenaw County Government first, this is a community-wide effort. All of our organizations can adopt the Opportunity Index as a performance measure and start examining what each organization or group is doing to change the metrics in the opportunity index. That could require changes in policy and investment. Equally essential to policy and funding changes, is making sure all our organizations are hearing from the communities with fewer opportunities. Are these communities engaged? Are they in decision-making roles? If not - why not? One of the most essential steps toward equity is inclusion. Unless those groups are at the table, the decision-making one, we may lose sight of the needs on the ground.