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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Develops and carries out equity plan; identifies and corrects bias in County operations and service delivery.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners established the office on December 11, 2018, and approved the staffing plan on February 26, 2019.

The County began its Cultural Intelligence initiative in 2013 with the formation of an internal committee tasked with educating employees, hosting an annual forum and getting more involved in community diversity initiatives. After five years, Ottawa County leaders knew it was time to do more.

The DEI office will lead the development of an equity plan for County, and should consider the entire range of human differences. A key initiative will be identifying implicit bias in internal policies, procedures, practices, and in external service delivery. In addition, the County intends to extend assistance to local units of government that desire to tackle similar objectives.

Funding for the office is a combination of public, private and non-profit dollars. The cost to Ottawa County for the first five years is approximately $630,000.

"We recognize the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the accomplishment of our mission and hold it as a basic value to proactively engage and understand a variety of perspectives across all human differences. We seek to ensure respectful, fair treatment and full, equal access to opportunities and resources so all people may thrive and achieve their full potential. We believe every person’s voice adds value."

-- Approved by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners

Click here to see DEI Office Goals and Strategies

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the government's role in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?

    Serving every person in a community is at the core of what the government's role is in society. Ottawa County is home to nearly 300,000 people varying in ethnic, cultural, religious, political, educational, and economic backgrounds and identities. As our community rapidly diversifies in these areas, local governments are called upon to assimilate equitable public services and consider issues of equity and inclusion that go beyond a wide array of human differences. We see DEI work as not only an important facet of how to best serve our residents but also something that is necessary to meet the individual needs of every resident.

  • Are there really any tangible benefits to DEI?

    The U.S. Office of Personnel Management cites three main benefits resulting from organizations operationalizing DEI work:

    1. Serving our communities and being socially responsible
      • The communities we serve are diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the workforce and the public we serve are growing in the number of women, people with disabilities, people of color, and immigrants each year.
      • We must maintain a workforce that is reflective of American society in order to provide high-quality, responsive, and equitable services for the public.
    2. Increasing innovation
      • Historically, some of the most creative periods in civilization have emerged when people of different backgrounds have contact and work together.
      • Research has shown that effective diversity management coupled with inclusive work environments improves organizational performance and innovation.
      • Employees from varied backgrounds bring different perspectives, ideas, and solutions to the workplace that result in new products and services, challenge to the status quo, and new collaboration.
    3. Getting a return on investment
      • In order to get a healthy return on investment in human capital and maximize competitive advantage, an agency must engage in recruitment and retention efforts that focus on acquiring the best and the brightest talent. We cannot secure the best and brightest talent unless we reach out broadly to all communities where such talent exists.
      • In addition, employees of all groups expect more from organizations - from nondiscriminatory, harassment-free workplaces to flexible schedules and benefits, work-life balance, and child care and family-friendly policies.
      • These environments where all employees feel included and valued are yielding greater commitment and motivation, which translates into fewer resources spent on employee turnover, grievances, and complaints.
  • Why do we need a coordinated, government-wide effort for DEI?

    For every era of advancement and innovation in our nation's history, there is a parallel era of hardship and oppression for varying groups of people (click the chart below to learn more). The legacies left behind by these eras still shape our present problems, and the awareness of this history can help us achieve a brighter future.

    We take great pride in making Ottawa County a place "Where You Belong," and a sense of belonging only happens if every group within the community works together to create the culture.

    Government Boosts and Blocks to Building Wealth

#BelongingStartsWithMe



Want to know how to take action? Please visit the Cultural Intelligence Committee's Community Page and Education Page.