The City of Olympia formed its Committee on Diversity & Equity in 2015. The City of Olympia Committee on Diversity advocates and promotes equality and diversity within the organization, celebrates and encourages diversity in the community through educational programs, and conducts research to define community issues in order to suggest appropriate changes to City ordinances and policies. We have defined our Scope & Objectives as follows:
- Promote and celebrate public awareness of human rights issues through educational programs and activities.
- Work to raise the level of awareness and sensitivity to human rights issues throughout City government.
- Cooperate and partner with community agencies focused on human rights to aid in developing training, educational events, and recommendation for changes to City ordinances or policies.
- Identify and seek to implement best practices of other Human Rights/Relations Committees across the country.
- Maintain awareness of current human rights issues and events.
The Committee is comprised of representatives from each Department, with the Assistant City Manager serving as the Chair. The Committee currently has 14 members. Committee members are empowered by their Department Directors to work on Committee business and activities as part of their regular work duties. The Committee meets monthly to discuss topics of interest, develop and implement work plans, and talk strategically about equity and diversity topics on the horizon that will need leadership and direction. We have developed both an internal webpage for City employee use, as well as an external webpage that includes information for the community at-large.
Some of the activities undertaken and/or overseen by the Committee include partnering with local diversity and equity non-profit to show community movies, with proceeds benefitting the non-profits, quarterly Doughnuts and Diversity Dialogues with city staff where we explore and discuss a host of diversity, equity, and social justice topics, review of city policies to ensure consistency with our mission, vision, and values around diversity and equity, and Monthly Diversity Moments delivered to staff via email on a variety of topics.
Other initiatives include drafting a resolution supporting Syrian refugees, a resolution confirming Olympia as a Sanctuary City, drafting and implementing a Transgender jail policy, converting all single-occupancy restrooms to “Gender Neutral” signage, and developing the “Safe Olympia Campaign”. The “Safe Olympia Campaign” is a community outreach effort focusing on safe reporting for crimes and discrimination related to the City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) residents and visitors. with local businesses who opt to put sticker in their windows saying their place of business is a safe haven for anyone who might feel threatened or harassed. We have over 100 businesses participating. The Committee also oversees the completion of the annual Municipal Equality Index Score Card.