Many in our region are prospering and thriving, and for many, this is a great place to live, learn, work and rear a family. In fact, King County is home to some of the most economically successful communities and businesses in the world.
However, for many King County residents, the story is completely different. In fact, in King County, where you live, how much you make, your ethinic heritage, and the color of your skin are major predictors of your health, education and work opportunities, and even lifespan.
A close look at how the benefits of our region are distributed shows that we have deeply entrenched social, economic and environmental inequities and injustices that are worsening and threaten our prosperity. These inequities are driven by an array of factors including our tax system, unequal access to the determinants of equity, and subtle but pervasive individual bias, and institutional and structural racism and sexism. These factors, while invisible to some of us, have a profound and tangible impact for others.
In fact, systemic inequities can affect the entire community, leading to increased health care costs, higher crime rates, lower wages, fewer skilled workers and a lack of affordable housing.
Here in King County, we believe that inequities hurt everyone—not just people on the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder. For our region to continue to prosper, we need everyone to have a fair shot at success, regardless of where they started out in life.
The Equity and Social Justice Initiative was launched by County Executive Dow Constantine in 2015. The County has approved and is following a six-year Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, which provides a framework for implementing these policies. The plan is a guide for applying these principles in order to shift the County away from policies and practices that react to problems and crises toward investments that address the root causes of inequities.
The plan identifies actionable and measurable objectives for addressing these root causes. Key components of this plan include:
• Pro-equity policies aimed at expanding access to transportation, health and human services, a clean and healthy environment, digital equity and more.
• Advancing pro-equity policies, systems and practices in six areas of governance: leadership, operations and services; policies, plans and budgets; workforce and workplace equity; community partnerships; communications and education; and facilities and systems improvements.
For more details – including infographics – on the County’s Equity and Social Justice Initiative, please see: