July 20, 2023

The Workforce Equity Strategic Plan (WESP) Renewal Project launched last month as the Renewal Steering Committee gathered for a two-day retreat. Participants used the time to set the groundwork for engaging over the next six months in an effort to update the WESP for the next four years by identifying priority issues and drafting recommendations.

The Workforce Equity Strategic Plan Renewal Steering Committee attended a two-day retreat in late June to establish the groundwork for the work of updating the plan for the next four years.
Through an application process, members of the steering committee were selected based on various factors, including identity demographics, department, classification and participation in employee resource groups. The size of the renewal project’s steering committee was intentionally designed to be smaller than that of the previous one based on feedback from the evaluation of the initial plan’s process. Click here to see the full list of steering committee members.

The steering committee spent the first day setting the foundation of effective collaboration for the work ahead by identifying and agreeing to Community Care Agreements that will guide the group's interaction when sharing space and working together. Committee members created the community care agreements by asking: 

  • How do we want to show up for each other? 
  • How do we respond when there is conflict? 
  • How do we respond when we have yet to honor our agreements in the future?

The second half of the first day was spent exploring the decision-making process, as the steering committee will make many decisions throughout the renewal process that impact people across the organization. 

Participants broke into small groups to co-design a decision-making process, asking each other: 

  • How do we make decisions together? 
  • What do we do when we can't reach an agreement? 
  • How do we go about this without falling into the trap of white supremacy culture, such as either/or thinking, false urgency, and defensiveness?

On the second day of the retreat, committee members took time to envision the future and begin to identify issues to prioritize over the next six months. During the exercise, committee members were asked to imagine what might be on the cover of a newspaper or magazine to report on what the organization looks like in 2028 after the WESP renewal had been successfully implemented.

This exercise allowed the committee members to think big and begin to call out the issues that need to be addressed most urgently. 

Participants broke out into small groups to identify structural barriers that stood in the way of achieving our future vision. These ideas were sorted by theme and priority. The results led us to a set of seven topic areas:

  • Accountability
  • Restructuring
  • Training
  • Practice
  • Data
  • Compensation
  • Retention 

One of the most notable decisions that the steering committee made was to forgo the working group model originally proposed for the renewal process. Instead, the committee voted to address each of the seven topic areas as a collective using a work session model. This way, the work of creating recommendations that address each area can happen in the same room, with the same people, receiving the same information at the same time.

The steering committee will offer the final decisions about what recommendations are made to the Executive Committee.

Committee members recognized that “someone will be left out of this conversation no matter what we do.” Based on that, members agreed the group must ensure they intentionally include people and invite additional voices to the table. 

The steering committee convened to formally approve the topic areas and set dates for meetings through the end of the year. Subject matter experts and County employees with experiences and insights relevant to each topic will be invited to engage with the steering committee at these work sessions.

The first set of two-day convenings is scheduled for July 25 and July 27 to work on the “Accountability” topic. The order and dates of the work sessions for the other six topic areas can be found on the new “WESP Renewal Project Progress and Resources” page. Be sure to bookmark that page to find post-work session summaries and note “captures” as the steering committee collaborates with staff members over the next five months to develop key recommendations of the WESP Renewal.