The City of Tukwila is very unique, with less than 20,000 people who reside in the city and more than 150,000 who visit the City every day to work, shop and recreate. More than 50% of Tukwila residents speak a language other than English at home, and there are 80+ languages spoken in the Tukwila School District. Long a receiving City for immigrants and refugees, 40% of Tukwila’s residents were born outside of the United States.
While the City has long celebrated the cultural and linguistic diversity in Tukwila, until recently it had not formalized its commitment to equity and inclusion. In 2017 the City Council approved an equity policy with six major goals:
- Our City workforce reflects our community
- Community outreach and engagement is relevant, intentional, inclusive, consistent and ongoing
- All residents and visitors receive equitable delivery of services
- City government is committed to equity in the decision-making process
- Equity serves as a core value for all long-term plans moving forward
- The City will build capacity around equity within City government and the broader community
The City also has an Equity and Social Justice Commission, made up of community members, school district representatives and city employees. The Commission advises the City on various issues on equity and is particularly interested in:
- issues related to human resources, particularly changes to the city’s hiring processes
- Promoting equitable apprenticeship and workforce development opportunities
- Identifying equity and inclusion capacity-building events and resources to inform the committee and broader community
- Ensuring the Commission is providing an equity and inclusion perspective to City decisions
- Serving as a liaison between the community and city if/when community members have concerns that they do not feel they can approach the city about
We recognize that we have a lot to learn from jurisdictions with much more experience in equity and inclusion work and look forward to the opportunity to build on the great work of other jurisdictions. As we work to implement this policy, in 2019 we will focus on making changes to our hiring processes, benchmarking research and employee capacity building around equity and inclusion.
Rachel Bianchi is the Deputy City Administrator and has been with the City of Tukwila for nearly five years. Prior to joining the City, she worked in strategic communications and political campaigns. She also previously served in County government. Ms. Bianchi graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies.