Announcing the ODHS Equity North Star
Message from Director Fariborz Pakseresht and Deputy Director Liesl Wendt
October 19, 2020
Equity is foundational to our role as a human services agency and we are committed to integrating equity into all we do. We'll know we have achieved equity when all who live in Oregon, regardless of identity or place, can achieve well-being. Today we are excited to announce the adoption of the Oregon Department of Human Services Equity North Star to guide us toward our vision of an agency free of racism, discrimination and bias.
The Equity North Star has four points that explain the agency's goals related to equity, inclusion and racial justice. The purpose of the Equity North Star is to provide clear direction for aligning our efforts. It is a tool for getting us in the same boat, so to speak, and for putting our oars in the water and paddling in synch, in the same direction, moving toward the Equity North Star.
Dion Jordon, the director of the Department's Office of Equity and Multicultural Services (OEMS), joined me for a podcast on the Equity North Star. We hope you will listen to the 14-minute podcast or read the transcript to learn more. And, we attached a flyer for you to print and post to keep our Equity North Star front and center in our work.
We have seen first-hand how the pandemic and wildfires have disproportionately impacted Black, Oregon Tribal Nations and People of Color, and we've felt the energy driving the widespread movements for racial justice. While advancing equity and inclusion has been a Department priority for several years, the urgency for this work has grown.
We are all learning as individuals and an organization how to fight discrimination, break down systemic racism and create equity. And we're turning that learning into action on every front. We made equitable treatment and belonging one of the six elements of our RiSE organizational culture. Each program area has a plan for improving service equity and equity. Our Department leadership team has committed to executive coaching to learn how to lead by example. Our service equity managers in OEMS are working in all parts of the Department to assist in creating brave spaces for dialogue. Our Human Resources team has committed positions to address workforce diversity and equity.
The ultimate objective of these efforts and the many others happening across the Department is to become an antiracist and equitable agency. The work is not easy and requires us to move together from our comfort zones to places of learning, growth and change to achieve this vision. Dion and I, the OEMS team and other equity advocates, and our leadership teams are here to support you as we build awareness and take action. We appreciate you joining us on this journey.