May 7, 2024
  • Redwood City – San Mateo County supervisors today approved an ordinance to promote racial and social equity in delivering public services and within the organization.

    The 5-0 vote commits County officers and employees to “advancing equity by creating the conditions that allow all County residents to fully participate in the economic and social opportunities of the county and prosper.”

    New measures include creating racial and social equity actions plans and a renewed focus on using data to inform how, where and when services are delivered. The ordinance – which carries the force of law – also calls for an Office of Racial and Social Justice to support implementation and building a workforce that reflects the diversity of the county.

    “If we are going to be an effective public institution, we must put policies and practices in place that create the conditions where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Warren Slocum, president of the Board of Supervisors and the ordinance’s sponsor.

    “We are declaring that the County of San Mateo will intentionally address issues of inequality within our institution and promote a culture of inclusion and belonging,” Slocum said. “The County is setting an example for good governance by codifying its commitment to equity into law and defining public service and stewardship as requiring an equity lens.”

    The ordinance includes key actions:

    • Integration of equity values in job descriptions for departmental leadership and executive leadership.
    • Inclusion of Equity Impact Statements on Board of Supervisor memos.
    • Advance an inclusive democracy through strategies such as diverse representation on County boards and commissions and increased community engagement efforts.

    “Key to this ordinance is codifying the County’s commitment to bringing an equity lens into operations by making equity core to public service and public responsibility,” said Shireen Malekafzali, the County’s Chief Equity Officer. “Ultimately, this is one of numerous items that allow the Board, staff and the public to have a stronger understanding of equity implications to County budgets, policies, programs and more.”

    The ordinance is needed for the County to confront enduring forms of racial discrimination. Across the United States, government agencies have played a painful and significant role in creating and maintaining racial and social inequities through explicit and implicit policies and practices.

    One example is “restrictive covenants” — language written into deeds to keep a piece of property from being bought by or sold to a non-Caucasian, practices that contribute to today’s wealth gap. Inequities persist.

    Out of 56 large metropolitan areas in the nation, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Oakland-Berkeley area ranks first for economic prosperity but 46th on racial inclusion in that prosperity, according to by the Brookings Institution’s Metro Monitor 2023.

    By taking these actions, the County “will serve as a leader on equity issues,” Slocum said.

    Equity means just and fair inclusion into a society where all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. Equity is achieved when inequities by demographics, individual, and community identities are eliminated.
    ► As defined in the ordinance.

    Media Contact

    Michelle Durand
    Chief Communications Officer