A plan for diversity and inclusion

Posted: September 15th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Senior Matters | No Comments

By William E. Kelly | Senior Matters

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s Municipal Equality Index:

“As of January 28, 2017, at least 225 cities and counties prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment ordinances that governed all public and private employers in those jurisdictions. This list does not include those cities and counties that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity for city and county employees — such policies do not affect private employers in those jurisdictions.”

The only California cities listed that fully “prohibit” such discrimination (receiving a score of 100) are Cathedral City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and West Hollywood.

Areas scored on the index include non-discrimination laws; municipality as an employer; municipal services; law enforcement; and relationship with the LGBTQ community. While San Diego topped out at 100, Chula Vista received a score of 55; Escondido received a score of 60; and Oceanside received a 99.

Santa Cruz County is the only California county named by HRC as one that prohibits diversity based on gender, but San Diego County’s own plan is significant.

The County of San Diego’s “Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion 2015-2020: Diversity and Inclusion for a World-Class Organization,” is a 16-page document, that includes an additional 14 pages of attachments.

The document covers the strategic plan’s framework, with its mission, definition, purpose and desired outcomes; it explains why diversity and inclusion matter, defining its alignment and the future and current residents it serves; lists the county’s accomplishments to date, regarding customer service, detailing its promotion of equity, workforce diversity and an inclusive workplace culture; and it offers methods regarding how to practice inclusion.

The attachments summarize the overall strategic plan; detail the county’s enterprise-wide initiatives; explain the role of the executive diversity and inclusion council and their champions; offer a communications plan; itemize a list of common questions; and provide additional research and resources.

While the entire plan cannot be covered properly in this space, I will offer excerpts to help summarize its points.

“At the County of San Diego, diversity and inclusion is a journey, not a program,” stated Helen Robbins Meyer, chief administrative officer of the County of San Diego, in the document’s opening pages. “On this journey we have had many accomplishments, which are highlighted on pages 8-13 of this plan. We also recognize there is more work to be done.”

Robbins Meyer is described as “the county’s highest ranking executive, [who] manages a workforce of more than 15,000 employees and an annual budget of $5 billion [and] implements policies set by the Board of Supervisors and oversees a wide-reaching operation that consists of more than 40 departments.”

In a message shared by Ms. Robbins-Meyer, she hit the nail on the proverbial head. “Our diverse workforce is our greatest asset … we strive to attract the best and brightest employees who are a reflection of the diversity of our region,” she said. “Fostering an inclusive workplace enables our employees to share their unique identities and perspectives, which in turn increases employee engagement, morale and productivity. As one of the region’s largest employers, we uphold the highest standards of equal opportunity and non-discriminatory practices in all county activities [and] would like to serve as a role model in the nation for our ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that feels valued and fully engaged in our vision of a community that is healthy, safe and thriving.”

To fully appreciate this six-year plan, one need only to read how it defines diversity and inclusion on Page 4.

“Diversity is the range of human differences — recognizing that each person has layers of diversity, which together make his or her perspective unique and essential to the success of the organization. Human differences include but are not limited to personality, age, life experience, race/ethnicity, sociology-economic class, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ability and religion.

“Inclusion is actively and intentionally valuing multiple layers of human differences and viewing such differences as strengths. Inclusion is the degree to which employees and customers of all identities — whether visible or not — are able to be authentic and feel safe and respected.”

The plan’s purpose, as stated at the bottom of Page 3 and top of Page 4, is clear.

“The County is proud to serve our diverse customers who are from a range of cultural groups and identities. We’re also committed to attracting, retaining and maintaining a workforce that reflects this regional diversity. Inclusion is a fundamental approach to reap the benefits of diversity. Ensuring that our employees and customers are able to be authentic, and feel valued and respected, is paramount to building a culture of inclusion.

“Implementing this Strategic Plan strengthens diversity and inclusion efforts and further integrates these values into County” operations.

William E. Kelly

“As a result of a comprehensive review of best D&I practices in corporate, government and university organizations, the D&I Task Force identified eight dimensions of successful D&I plans: Customer Service & Community Relations; Leadership Responsibility; Workplace Culture and Retention; Continuous Education & Skill Development; Recruitment, Hiring & Talent Development; Infrastructure & Implementation; Supplier Diversity; and Performance Metrics. Goals have been identified for each of these eight elements and support four desired outcomes.”

For those who wish to delve deeper into the 30-page plan, I encourage you to visit

—Bill Kelly is a longtime local activist who currently focuses on LGBT senior issues and moderates the Caring for our LGBT Seniors in San Diego Facebook page. Access to the group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers. Reach Bill at

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