The Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion released a new framework for the state.
SALEM – Since Governor Kate Brown took office, she’s directed with her Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to strive to make the state a more equitable place for each and every Oregonian. As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, two months ago she tasked the team with constructing a framework that all state agencies could use to center equity and racial justice. The result is the newly-released State of Oregon Equity Framework in COVID-19 Response and Recovery, a roadmap to support state agencies, boards, and commissions. This framework is a guide that makes equity the center of how Oregon shares resources and reopens in relation to COVID-19. It will also be used more long-term to make equitable decisions about state resources going forward.
“As we work to reopen the economy and build a safe and strong Oregon, I am committed to putting our marginalized communities at the forefront of our recovery plan,” says Gov. Brown. “Our state government must take proactive and anti-racist measures to build a more equitable Oregon.”
“Equity” acknowledges that not all people, or all communities, are starting from the same place due to historic and current systems of oppression, and that different levels of support (by redistributing resources, power, and opportunity) are necessary to achieve more fair outcomes.
For the purpose of the Equity Framework, the definition of historically- and currently-underserved communities include Oregonians who are: Native Americans, members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, American Indians, Alaska Natives; Black, Africans, African Americans; Latinx, Hispanic; Asian, Pacific Islanders; Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers; Undocumented, DREAMers; Linguistically diverse; Economically disadvantaged; Farmworkers and migrant workers. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion also respects the intersectionality of how those identities overlap and that individuals often identify with multiple communities and are impacted by compounding systems of oppression.
The core elements of the framework include a commitment to:
• Use Inclusive Communications: Translated materials that are accessible, timely, trauma-informed, shared by trusted messengers, and involve the intended community.
• Form Community-Informed Policy and Partnerships: Work with community leaders, who are an essential part of the decision-making process.
• Ensure Safety for Our Communities: Protect civil rights for all Oregonians and take active measures against discrimination, racism, xenophobia, stigmatization, violence, and hate crimes.
• Collect, Analyze, and Report Data in Culturally- and Linguistically-Responsive Communications: Allot resources for the most-impacted communities across the state; collect qualitative data to provide context to quantitative data.
• Ensure a Safe, Inclusive, and Accessible Workplace for All: Recruit, hire, retain, and promote diverse staff; create leadership pipeline opportunities and ensure every level of state government workforce reflects the population of Oregon.
• Make Investments in Community Resilience: Target investments to historically- and currently-marginalized populations and organizations that serve them, to improve economic welfare.
• Ensure Contract Equity: Provide state economic opportunities for all Oregon businesses, in particular those who are owned by people who are minorities, women, disabled, and/or veterans.
• Ask – and Answer – the Tough Questions: The Equity Framework outlines more than a dozen guiding questions to ensure you are applying equity. A sampling includes:
• What are the ways we engage agency equity leaders and communities in decision making currently? Whose voices and perspectives are not at the table? What can we do to ensure they are part of our decision-making process?
• How do we ensure our communications and messaging are getting to all Oregonians? Who are the communities being left behind and how do we connect with those commu- nities? How do we collect and respond to feedback? How are we ensuring these partnerships do not exploit the communities we seek to engage?
• How will we build equity into our operations and create accountability systems?
By following the steps outlined in the Equity Framework, Oregon can ensure that rather than allowing COVID-19 to deepen inequities, we can actually use this as a moment to build true equity for all Oregonians, from today and beyond.
“We stand united and strong during an historic moment to put Oregon on a better path forward,” says Governor Kate Brown. “Together, we can build a more equitable Oregon.”
Read the full State of Oregon Equity Framework in COVID-19 Response and Recovery.