Director's Intent on Equity

Our core mission at The Washington State Department of Commerce is to Strengthen Communities. To accomplish this mission we must embed the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of our work.

The services Commerce provides span many aspects of the success of our communities and the people that reside within them. Community services, economic development and competitiveness, energy, housing, local government and all the programs that support these efforts are integral to a thriving Washington. Yet, within each of these areas lie consistent evidence of the disparate impacts that Washingtonians and Tribes face on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability among other unique and intersectional identities. This is why it is imperative that we demonstrate and model pro-equity anti-racist principles to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for our customers and for our workforce. We strive to provide excellent services, recruit and build for highly effective teams, and know the only way to accomplish that is by embracing equity as a core principle of our work.

We also recognize that history created disparities in our systems long ago, but as members of that system now, it is our job to change it so that:

  • All of our employees feel valued and can contribute to the important goals of our agency;
  • Our customers receive culturally responsive services that promotes partnership;
  • The business decisions we make are equitable and serve to provide customer satisfaction, financial health, and team health; and
  • No one, internally or externally, is left in the margins.

In accordance with multiple state directives including Gov. Jay Inslee’s April 2018 memorandum on inclusive and respectful work environments, State Human Resources directive 20-02, and Executive Orders 22-01 and 22-02 the agency has sought to recognize the impact, regardless of intent, of our actions in perpetuating inequities among historically marginalized groups, including people of color. This includes how we deliver services and resources to our customers, as well as the agency’s commitment and support to the workforce so that our teams may do their best work.

We are responsible for the workplace culture we create today and in the future. Much work remains for us as a department, as teams, and as individuals to accept our responsibility and seize our opportunity to build policies, procedures, systems and practices that promote equity. We know that a respectful work environment that truly values differences helps our entire workforce achieve our mission, accomplish our goals, and builds a workforce able to engage well with our customers and each other.

The goal is institutional and structural change, which requires resources to implement: time, money, skills, and effort. It requires us to do our work differently and build relationships. To that end, I ask that we all turn a critical eye to our policies and practices through some key questions:

  1. What are the desired results and outcomes?
  2. What does the data tell us?
  3. How have communities been engaged or are there opportunities to expand engagement?
  4. Who benefits and who is burdened?
  5. What strategies can you implement to change the story?
  6. How will you ensure accountability, communicate, and evaluate results?

As a public service organization, we will continue to build and sustain a workplace that embeds equity and justice into every action, and where doing so is so simply the default that we may be recognized as an agency that Strengthens All Communities.