Local leaders: Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion must be funded

Citizen's view

Chair Smith and Board of Commissioners,

We, the undersigned community leaders, representing a diverse coalition of social service providers, faith community members, and business leaders, write to you today with a shared concern that holds significant relevance to our entire county. We are calling on you to continue funding the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion at current or greater levels in the coming and future years. The work of this office is essential for the continued progress, unity, and success of our community. It aligns with the values of Clackamas businesses, cities and residents to create a welcoming, inclusive and thriving county. Whether you’re Black, brown, or white, everyone deserves to be treated fairly. Political leaders should commit themselves to dismantling racism and promoting equality.

We believe the county plays a vital role in this ongoing work. For these reasons, continued support for the work of the Office of Equity and Inclusion must be prioritized.

As we discuss the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, we recognize that individuals with diverse political ideologies contribute unique perspectives and experiences to our community. Supporting DEI initiatives aligns with values universally cherished by all community members, transcending political affiliations and demographic backgrounds. We believe that the County Office of Equity and Inclusion serves as a valuable resource for our entire county, allowing us to:

1. Promote Unity and Solidarity: Building a cohesive community for everyone

Our county thrives when all residents, regardless of background or identity, feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. Embracing diversity and fostering equity are not just acts of fairness but also vital components of building strong and united communities. By supporting the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion, we actively contribute to creating a county where individuals from all walks of life can come together, learn from one another, and build a shared future based on mutual respect and understanding.

2. Strengthen Economic Growth: Harnessing the power of diversity to drive prosperity

Studies consistently show that businesses, organizations, and communities that embrace diversity and inclusion outperform their counterparts in various economic indicators. By investing in the County Office of Equity and Inclusion, we leverage the economic advantages that arise from a diverse workforce, customer base, and residents. Inclusive practices attract talented individuals from various backgrounds, enhance creativity and innovation, and create environments that foster collaboration and productivity. Ultimately, our county’s economic growth and resilience are intricately tied to our ability to harness the full potential of all community members.

3. Uphold Our Core Values: Preserving principles of fairness, compassion, and justice

As community leaders, we share a commitment to upholding our core values, which include fairness, compassion, and justice for all. By funding the Office of Equity and Inclusion, we actively demonstrate our dedication to these principles and ensure they permeate all aspects of our county’s governance, policies, and programs. Our collective efforts to address disparities, dismantle barriers, and promote equal opportunities are vital for creating an environment where everyone has a fair chance to succeed and thrive. This is a key value not just for Clackamas County, but also for many of our cities, businesses and service providers. Support from the Office of Equity and Inclusion is critical to help us put those values into practice at both a nongovernmental and a governmental level.

We acknowledge that concerns regarding government spending and budgetary constraints have been raised. In response, we encourage you to view the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion as an essential investment rather than an extraneous expense. Funding the County Office of Equity and Inclusion can yield significant returns by improving social cohesion, boosting economic growth, and ensuring a Clackamas County where everyone can thrive for generations to come.

We also propose that the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion actively seeks partnerships and collaborations with community organizations, including social service providers, faith communities, and businesses. By leveraging our community’s expertise, resources, and networks, we can maximize the impact of DEI initiatives. This collaborative approach ensures that the responsibility of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is shared and that our efforts are aligned with the diverse needs of our community.

In conclusion, we are calling on you to maintain or increase funding to the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion in the FY 23/24 budget and beyond, and to prioritize the work of the office moving forward. Supporting DEI initiatives is not about politics; it is about fostering unity, economic growth, and preserving our shared values of fairness, compassion, and justice. By investing in the Clackamas County Office of Equity and Inclusion, we actively contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all residents in our county.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We are available for further discussions and eagerly look forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively in advancing these goals.


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