As you may know, I’m Kate Brown, your Governor. My preferred pronouns are she/her/hers. I am just delighted to be here today.
I want to quickly recognize the work of the co-chairs Bryant Campbell and Teresa Rainey, and the committee members who put this event together.
I also would be remiss not to recognize Anne Mildenberger from ODOT as the conference weaver. Let’s give them all a hand!
Conferences addressing the importance of diversity and inclusion are vital to the growth of our great state. Oregon has come a long way, we have a long way to go.
What truly defines us as Oregonians is our tradition of coming together and working collaboratively toward the shared vision.
A shared vision of a state where we all have opportunities to fulfill our potential.
If we truly want a state where everyone can thrive, the needs of our most vulnerable citizens must be addressed.
With your help, I know we can continue to make Oregon a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.
I am so proud of the many agencies that have created diversity, equity, and inclusion positions--ODOT, DHS, Business Oregon, DCBS, and the Dept. of Education.
We’re also seeing many agencies start the practice of including pronouns in email signatures, and creating policies to be more inclusive of the transgender community.
As well, DHS has updated their policy to ensure excellent customer service for Oregonians who are Limited English Proficient.
I want to emphasize that our work in this area is never complete. Every day we move the needle just a little bit.
So when I mention our accomplishments, I shall focus on progress, rather than conclusions.
It’s vital to me that our state workforce represents the changing faces of Oregon.
Last biennium, the State of Oregon has hired and retained more diverse employees than ever.
We have promoted racially and linguistically diverse employees at the highest rate in a decade.
And we have significantly increased racially diverse female employees.
And I am proud that Oregon will continue to be a sanctuary state for all immigrants and refugees in need.
Oregon will continue to be a leader in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And our agencies and staff are the champions of this work.
Like the DEI Subcommittee on the Enterprise Leadership Team; the Equity councils at DOJ, DHS, Employment, Oregon Youth authority and OSP; and those who worked hard to create the DEI at OHA.
You are amazing.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly outline our vision moving forward.
We are closer to achieving a state workforce that reflects the diversity of our communities with every advancement in diversity, equity, inclusion, and Affirmative Action.
Every bridge we build with our community members brings us that much closer to this goal.
We’ve made progress in several areas, however, there is more work to do. That’s where you come in.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to
● Integrate how we recruit, hire and interview to ensure an equitable process of hiring diverse candidates.
○ For example, OHSU board is extremely diverse. And this is because they made diversity a priority, and working with a recruiting firm that made that possible.
● Create an inclusive workplace so that we can retain, mentor, and promote those diverse candidates to achieve their own career goals.
● Troubleshoot ways to hire contractors and suppliers so that Oregon dollars go to Oregon businesses.
● And lastly, hold colleagues and policymakers accountable to using an Equity Lens for policy, programs and investments.
You have the power to shift the conversation. And help make the changes the State of Oregon needs to ensure that we are a place where everyone can thrive.
So I call on you to stay engaged--not just today, not just tomorrow, but every single day. Keep your ears, hearts, and minds open to what Oregonians need and are not seeing in their day-to-day lives.
The best public policy happens with diverse voices at the table. So get to it!