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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA)

Read: OEM Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Plan 2024 - 2026

The OEM IDEA Plan provides an explanation of why an IDEA lens is critically needed in emergency management generally, followed by our agency-specific definition of equity, with corresponding principles guiding our 2024 - 2026 departmental objectives.  

The objectives described in the plan, and detailed steps to achieving them, provide a roadmap for all agency staff, management and leadership to invest in this IDEA strategy, which will make our agency a leader in supporting whole community resilience. 


Natasha Fox
IDEA Coordinator

The Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is committed Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) as the foundation for our agency’s internal culture, and in our relations and service provisions to all communities we serve.


Emergency management has historically been an outgrowth of military and law enforcement, typically favoring a top-down approach to resource distribution and hierarchical organization of operations led by members of dominant societal groups (most often, white men). Our agency’s commitment to IDEA acknowledges the disproportionate impacts of disasters on historically underserved and marginalized communities as a result of this approach. Fostering an IDEA first approach to emergency management is thus a strategic imperative for growing equitable resilience to hazards across our state. 

Social and systemic factors such as those associated with age, gender and gender identity, race and ethnicity, disability status, socioeconomic status, immigration status, language barriers, and others are tied resilience and vulnerability throughout the disaster cycle. Barriers to recovery common among many survivors of disasters, such as accessing supplies, information, and resources, can be further exacerbated by disability status, experiencing extreme poverty or being unhoused, non-normative gender identity and gender expression, immigration status, age, and other factors. For example, households experiencing poverty will be unlikely to have adequate resources to build a 2-week emergency kit. Individuals who identify as transgender are more likely than the general population to experience gender based violence and harassment. Households with a primary language other than English will experience barriers to accessing critical information if it is only provided in English. 

These examples illustrate the importance of a whole-community approach to emergency management and disaster risk reduction, where space for diverse experiences and voices can help illuminate and alleviate disaster impacts on diverse communities.


Like emergency management itself, commitment to IDEA involves continuous reflection, learning, and engaging with communities to improve our ability to equitably respond to and prepare for hazard threats. Our aim is to integrate IDEA into all aspects of our agency’s culture, partnerships, service provisions, and relationships with communities across the state, toward making Oregon a prepared and resilient place for all. Our agency’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Plan provides the roadmap to making this a reality, along the following five guiding objectives: ​​

  1. Create and sustain an internal culture at OEM that prioritizes inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility
  2. Identify and eliminate obstacles to recruiting and retaining diverse talent, incorporating meaningful support structures and professional development opportunities to ensure equitable career advancement and a sense of belonging across the agency
  3. Seek out and eradicate barriers to equitable community input in all phases of the disaster cycle by building upon existing partnerships, and identifying new pathways for community collaboration 
  4. Develop new structures for procurement and business practices that prioritize diverse vendors 
  5. Build in equity as a fundamental element of transparent budget decision making processes, with special attention to the ways in which distributive and procedural equity can inform resource allocation decisions

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