DANE COUNTY BOARD TAKES MAJOR STEP ON RACIAL EQUITY EFFORT
March 22, 2018
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
Action to create “Who benefits?” masthead draws praise from national leaders
Looking to ensure that government works for all citizens, the Dane County Board will soon include wording at the top of its agendas asking how any pending actions might impact minority groups.
The County Board at its meeting last Thursday approved creating a new masthead that would include questions such as: Who benefits? Who is burdened? Who does not have a voice at the table? How can policymakers mitigate unintended consequences of their actions?
Adding a so-called “racial equity template” to official documents will help policy makers keep those questions front and center when considering resolutions, ordinance amendments, budget amendments or other action items.
The move is the latest step in the Board’s goals announced in 2015 following the first racial equity analysis of all county operations.
“We’ve made some excellent progress already in advancing these goals and adding racial equity wording into all our deliberations will help move the discussion forward even faster,” says County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan of Middleton.
By adding a racial equity template to it agendas, Dane County joins other communities such as Seattle, Portland, Austin and St. Paul in putting key questions front and center.
“Congratulations to Dane County for the legislation just passed,” says Julie Nelson, director of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) which has been working with officials here for over four years. “Incorporating questions about the benefits and burdens into the routine decision-making process will help to keep equity at the fore.”
GARE is a national organization with offices in Oakland, Calif. and New York City.
County Supervisor Shelia Stubbs of Madison says the new masthead -- expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks -- shows that Dane County is serious about addressing “the daunting disparities that impact this community.”
“Incorporating these equity questions into the masthead will ensure that decision makers consider their work through the prism of equity,” Stubbs says. “In addition, these questions will help us continue to incorporate our values into our everyday work.”
In 2015, Dane County announced a series of goals that included:
Increasing racial equity education
Increasing staff diversity and inclusion
Increasing the learning platform for supervisor and community on racial equity
Incorporating a racial equity template into committee agendas and budgets
Developing local and national partnerships to advance racial equity
Dane County has made progress on most of those goals and the new masthead is a tangible example of the County Board’s ongoing commitment to addressing racial inequality, says Board Chair Corrigan.
“We’re not just talking about equity and inclusion, we’re taking action that other communities in Wisconsin and nationwide can use as an example of good government,” she says.