Business, Politics

Olszewski creates advisory councils to advance equity, inclusion

TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Tuesday issued an Executive Order creating a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council and Employee Advisory Council, both aimed at advancing equity and inclusion in Baltimore County and changing the culture of County government to consistently focus on equity in decision-making.

The Executive Order also establishes a Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity that articulates the government’s commitment to applying an equity lens to all its work.

“Baltimore County is a large, diverse jurisdiction, and our communities have complex needs. We have a responsibility to ensure that our government serves our communities in an equitable way, and that we are doing everything in our power to celebrate diversity and advance equal opportunity,” Olszewski said.

Tuesday’s Executive Order comes on Human Rights Day, an international observance commemorating December 10, 1948: the day United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

Baltimore County has 847,000 residents—the third largest population in Maryland. Nearly 30 percent of the County’s population is African American, 100,000 residents are foreign-born, and students in the County’s school system speak 97 different languages. Nine percent of the County’s households live below the federal poverty line, and 29 percent fall under the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE), threshold, according to the United Way. Given Baltimore County’s diversity, Olszewski’s transition team identified a need to take steps to advance equity and inclusion.

Earlier this year, Olszewski included funding in his budget to create an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and named Troy Williams as the County’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

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“Advancing the cause of equity and inclusion requires a concerted effort to change the way we think and the way we work, and the steps outlined in today’s executive order are designed to help our government better respond to the needs of our communities,” Williams said.

The Executive Order outlines a number of steps to advance the cause of equity and inclusion:

  • Articulates a policy statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity: Baltimore County government shall advance fair policies and practices by making decisions, providing opportunities and allocating resources and services through a diversity, inclusion and equity lens that ensures engagement, growth and prosperity for all county employees, residents, visitors and stakeholders.
  • Creates a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Awareness Program in order to ensure all county employees understand the policy statement and the county’s commitment to equitable decision-making.
  • Establishes a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Advisory Council to advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of the County workforce as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity.
  • Establishes a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council to advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of county residents as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity.

The full text of the Executive Order can be read here.

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