Embracing the Values of Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion
The state of Washington is made up of a multitude of diverse individuals and communities. We must embrace the values of diversity (our differences), equity (fairness), access (the ability to participate fully), and inclusion (participative voice and belonging) to be the change, we wish to see in the world. Washington state government is on a journey to be a proactive, equitable, anti-racist place to live, work and do business. This journey, known as PEAR, requires us to rethink basic assumptions about how state government provides services, how programs should be designed and delivered in an equitable manner, and how as employers we ensure a positive, healthy, and inclusive work environment of belonging and respect.
WaTech believes that this approach is central to staff well-being and our ongoing efforts to transform the way state services are delivered to Washingtonians. Just as important, is an ongoing willingness to address the existence and pervasiveness of racism, discrimination, oppression, sexism, ableism, ageism, and other exclusionary practices. It also means we must look at our facilities and work environment through the lens of inclusivity and creating an environment of belonging.
But how do we do that? First, we must make the principles of DEAI a part of everything we do and affirm that in policy and practice. Gov. Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 22-04 in 2023. The executive order is aimed at ensuring the state will not replicate and reinforce systems, processes and behaviors that lead to inequities and disparities. We hold ourselves accountable by partnering with the state Office of Equity to develop a Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) strategic action plan and set metrics for measuring progress and conducting equity impact reviews on our services, budget requests and workplace culture.
Internally we must do the work of increasing our awareness of our biases. We do that by providing learning opportunities that examine who we are, how we are affected by social norms that have been historically exclusive, and how we can continuously improve. One way we demonstrate this commitment is through the establishment of a DEAI workgroup—WaTech’s Inclusion, Respect, Equity and Diversity (WIRED) team. This team, which comprises a broad cross-section of employees from across the agency, advises agency leadership, provides input on policies and practices, and provides engagement opportunities that help embed DEAI in our workplace culture.
Externally we embrace the opportunity to partner with other state agencies, local governments, and Tribes to address matters such as accessibility, digital equity, digital literacy, and increase learning across the enterprise about DEAI. WaTech is committed to allyship with the state’s network of business resource groups (BRGs) that represent diverse groups across Washington state government. By partnering with these groups, we increase our collective voice in the DEAI space and support staff in bringing their unique knowledge and perspectives to our efforts to address inequities in all areas of state government and the employee experience.
Embracing DEAI It is essential to our ongoing success, and ability to achieve our mission and vision in service of all Washingtonians. We greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts to help us embed the values of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion in everything we do.
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