Recognizing Yolo County's Strength in Diversity
By Dave Rosenberg, Yolo County Supervisor, 4th District
In Yolo County, we've adopted four "core values" in service to our constituents and our employees:
- Doing Right By People
- Striving Always to Be Better
- Making Democracy Work
- Creating and Nurturing Diversity
In September 1999, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution establishing the Yolo County Diversity Advisory Committee. The duties of this Committee are to serve in an advisory capacity to the Board, the County Administrative Officer, and County departments on ways to create and enhance Diversity in County programs, services, and policies; and to ensure equal employment opportunities in recruitment, examinations, and staff development for all applicants and employees of the County.
The Diversity Advisory Committee is comprised of nine rotating members appointed "at-large" by a majority of the Board of Supervisors and no member of the committee may be an employee of Yolo County. The County's Affirmative Action Coordinator serves as its principal staff and Secretary.
Since this Committee was established, I have had the privilege of serving as its Board of Supervisors Liaison. During their first year, the Committee established a new county award, the "Diversity Recognition Award", which operates on a three-year cycle. In its first year, the award recognized Department Heads; in the second year, supervisors and managers were honored; and most recently, rank-and-file employees had the opportunity to be awarded for their efforts in creating and nurturing diversity. These awards-which in 2004, will return to the Department Head category-have maintained a high-level of interest from both the community and the county workforce.
Another visible component of the Diversity Advisory Committee's work is reflected in the series of county employee diversity recognition events sponsored by the Board of Supervisors. Before 1999, the County had recognized African American History Month in February; Women's History in March, and Cinco de Mayo in May, American Independence Day in July and Native American Heritage in October.
Recognizing that diversity goes beyond race and gender, the Diversity Advisory Committee recommended to the Board of Supervisors in 1999 that three additional groups be added to the existing services-Asian Pacific American Heritage in May, Gay Pride in June, and Disability Awareness Week in December. These noontime cultural events are planned, organized, and produced by volunteer county employees, with the support and concurrence of their department heads and supervisors. Such activities are an extension of the County's efforts to promote respect for diversity and develop cultural competencies throughout the county workforce.
Beyond the celebratory aspects to diversity in the county work environment, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors also took action in 2001 to make health benefits available to domestic partners through an existing CalPERS insurance program. In doing so, Yolo County joins a whole host of other employers, including the University of California, the State of California, and others, in establishing a welcoming environment for all who choose to work for Yolo County. The Committee has also established as a goal the development of a county-wide cultural competency plan in its programs and services.
I am proud to be a part of making diversity "work" in Yolo County. For more information on the Diversity Advisory Committee, please contact Hugo Martinez at 530-666-8425.