Diversity and Inclusion
The county’s demographics are changing and reflect the following:
- 7% of our population is foreign born (2000 data)
- 9.6% percent speak a language other than English at home (2000 data)
- 6.6% are below poverty (1999 data)
- 9% identify as other than White, with 5% identifying one to two or more “other races” (2000 data)
Clackamas County, the employer, is committed to serving as a model for what it means to demonstrate how important Diversity and Inclusion are as County values. Employees are encouraged to respect individuals’ differences and the understanding it brings to the workplace. Community members are asked to give input on issues that impact them and are provided access to county services delivered in a culturally competent manner.
The Business Case for Diversity
The Board of County Commissioners endorses a diversity and inclusion approach that recognizes, respects and supports the creativity, talent and views of our employees and community.
- Citizen participation: Councils are addressing issues of concern to the county’s diverse population.
- Customer satisfaction: Customers let us know that they want services provided in a manner that is culturally relevant and respectful of their culture.
- Employee retention: Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is critical. We must attract and reach the widest possible pool of potential candidates, understanding that candidates are drawn to organizations that support diversity and reflect their own values.
The outcomes of diversity objectives include a productive workforce, innovative solutions to public programs, an improved quality of life, and improved economic development in the region.
The Diversity Journey
The Board of County Commissioners recognizes that diversity is a journey composed of many steps. In 2001, the Board undertook the “Complete Communities” process, a citizen involvement effort to engage the greatest number of county citizens in defining common community values and diverse attributes as a tool for guiding future policy decisions. As a result of citizen input, many components were identified and 53 advisory groups were formed.
The Diversity Leadership Council was one such group formed as a result of this process. The Council is comprised of eight representative community members who address diversity issues within the county.
In addition to external issues, there were internal needs that were identified. It was determined that all employees should receive diversity training. “Building Connections,” is a six hour session that provides a base level of understanding and awareness, with classes facilitated by the Diversity and Inclusion Manager. Training has been ongoing since 2003.
Examples of other diversity efforts include:
Partners in Diversity
We are a charter sponsor along with other public and private organizations supporting regular diversity-related activities. This includes a bi-monthly gathering of diversity practitioners (Breakfast for Champions); the Civic Leaders Project assisting civic and corporate organizations to increase diversity on their boards and commissions, and a quarterly reception for new professionals of color (Say Hey, NW).
- Annual diversity conference
Public sector employers plan this full-day conference.
Diversity Reflected in Business Operations: Selected Examples
The following examples are not intended to be all inclusive but rather a representation of county efforts.
- County website: ADA compliant for persons with visual impairments
- Aquatic Park has an elevator to accommodate patrons on the slides; a lap pool with a ramp for wheelchairs, walkers and canes, and a wave pool with zero-depth entry
- Worksite accommodations for employees with disabilities
Culturally Competent Service Delivery
- Cultural Competence is required in some DHS programs, for example, the Oregon Health Plan. Community Mental Health and Developmental Disability Programs also comply.
- Assessor’s Office: improved access for non- English speaking customers.
- Recorder’s Office: Recording and marriage license information and some instructions and applications have been translated into Spanish.
- Library material includes large print and Talking Books for visually impaired; bi-lingual movies; learning English as a second language materials.
- Sheriff ’s Office: a few employees train others in scripted language to handle basic service calls in Spanish.
- Water Environmental Services: public education material is currently printed in English, Spanish and Russian. Translation service is available for Spanish-speaking clients.
- Communications (CCOM) Department: utilizes professional language interpretation services for emergent and non-emergent calls from non- English speaking callers.
- Procurement practices include mandated use of employees from Qualified Rehabilitation Facilities.
- Finance Department is reviewing best practices in supplier diversity for potential application by Clackamas County.
- Sheriff ’s Office: community programs such as the Inter Agency Reserve Academy give community members experience in the law enforcement profession.
- Personnel Ordinance: revision to allow more inclusion of qualified women and minorities in positions where there is an affirmative action goal.
- Community Corrections: the workforce reflects the department’s strong efforts to recruit and hire Spanish speakers and persons of color to effectively represent its clients.