Kitsap to start diversion, equity, inclusion committee

Kitsap County Commissioners this week renewed their commitment to advancing equity in services and resources, identifying barriers and ensuring there are more opportunities for the community to be a part of the process of developing, strengthening and supporting policies.

Commissioners took the next steps in creation of a diversity and equity inclusion committee and will be establishing a charter and bylaws in consultation with community members, a county news release says.

The committee will assist the county in drafting goals in its review of procedures, policy and planning through an equity lens. Commissioners will issue a request for qualifications for a consultant to join staff to coordinate the effort and support outreach to communities, ensuring the structure and recruitment for the group are inclusive.

“While the pandemic may have slowed our progress, the commitment is solid for creating and enhancing a culture and operational lens to make sure our workforce, work processes and boards/commissions are reflective of the community we serve,” said Robert Gelder, board chairman.

The initiative is a long-term commitment to more deeply integrate diversity and equity to Kitsap communities and the county workforce, the release states. It also provides opportunities to educate staff, extend and create community partnerships, and generate dialogue with the community.

The request for qualifications to hire a coordinator is expected to be released next month. The commissioners will be meeting regularly with county leadership to ensure all departments are engaged in the effort. Commissioners said they hope to have a consultant hired and begin formation of the committee this summer.

Kitsap County also has joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, a national network of government groups working to achieve racial equity and advancement opportunities, offering staff training, resources and toolkits.

“Commissioners appreciate and value the relationships they have with Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities in Kitsap and will continue to work with them towards a common goal of improving and ensuring equitable access and outcomes for everyone,” the board states in the release.