Royal Oak Tribune

Coulter forms equity council

Goal to enhance inclusivit­y within county policies

- By Mark Cavitt mcavitt@medianewsg­roup.com @MarkCavitt on Twitter

Oakland County Executive David Coulter’s push for greater inclusivit­y, equity, and diversity to be reflected in both county policy and its services provided to residents continues.

Coulter has announced the formation of a 31-member Oakland County Equity Council, which is comprised of employees from nearly every county department or office of an elected official. It also includes employees working in the department­s of economic developmen­t, health and human services, informatio­n technology, and parks and recreation.

The council will hold monthly meetings with members being required to complete 20 hours of training each year they serve. The members will also be encouraged to share the work of the council with their respective county department­s. The council will be led by Robin Carter-Cooper, the county’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

Coulter said it’s important that county policies ensure its workforce reflects the county’s diversity and that county government is an active community partner

in promoting equity initiative­s.

“Diversity is one of the strengths of Oakland County,” he said. “We look to the council to create a culture for our employees that

respects diversity and creates policies that promote equity and inclusion internally and in the critical services we provide to the public.”

According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, around 27% of 1,257,584 county residents are non-white, including: Black (13.9%), American Indian (0.3%), Asian

(8.2%), and Hispanic or Latino (4.3%).

Among Coulter’s top administra­tion officials, all of which he appointed, three of the five are women and two of the five are Black. Two of the incoming department directors hired by Coulter are women.

Other actions being taken by Coulter and his administra­tion

to promote inclusivit­y and equity include a comprehens­ive audit of county programs, initiative­s, and services to identify potential gaps in delivering and barriers to access for residents. The county board of commission­ers recently allocated $1.33 million in general fund dollars to conduct the audit and develop

key performanc­e indicators to measure how well county department­s are delivering services. The audit is expected to be completed by April 2021 with the developmen­t of performanc­e metrics to follow.

In addition, the county’s economic developmen­t strategy is currently in the process of being updated, which has not been done in nearly 17 years. The new strategy will be data driven through equitable and inclusive developmen­t, with the county involved as a catalyst for collaborat­ion locally and across the region. Key focus areas are educationa­l attainment, mobility, digitizing manufactur­ing and supporting small businesses.

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