Equity and social justice
Inequities hurt everyone—not just people on the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder. For our region to continue to prosper, we need everyone to have a fair shot at success, regardless of where they started out in life.
Our region has many strengths, but many of our communities are being left behind.In King County, where you live, how much you make, and the color of your skin are major predictors of your life experience and chances of living well.
By any measure, our region has one of the highest qualities of life in the world:
- Median household income is $71,175—$18,000 more than the U.S. median.
- Median life expectancy is nearly 81 years, which is two-and-a-half years above the national average.
- Unemployment is 4.7%, compared with 6.7% in the U.S.
However, there is staggering inequity across King County:
- Average household income in one ZIP code can be $100,000 less than in another ZIP code just a few miles away.
- Unemployment among African Americans is twice what it is for whites.
- Adult obesity rates are nearly 20% higher in some parts of the county than in other, more affluent areas.
* See the full infographic to learn more about building equity in King County.
New Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan
King County is engaging with employees and partners to develop an Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) Strategic Plan.
Through mutual creation by the County government, employees, and the the broader community, the ESJ Strategic Plan will impact lives and change inequities by focusing on institutional policies, practices, and systems. It will serve as a blueprint for change and achieving greater institutional and regional equity and social justice.
The ESJ Strategic Planning process will:
- Identify equity-related priorities, concerns, assets, and contributions.
- Involve a cross sector of employees and partners as leaders for gathering input from their peers and constituencies.
- Transparently share and use input.
- Welcome opportunities to work together and gather feedback at all stages of development.
Examples of our approach
- Expanding voting access to immigrant communities by having voter registration and information printed in Spanish, Korean, and other languages.
- More than 200,000 residents in King County gained access to affordable health coverage thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach by staff and community partners.
- The Youth Action Plan recommended priorities for serving children, investing at key developmental milestones on a child's journey to adulthood, and create healthy communities that support their progress.
What is equity? King County's 2010 "fair and just" ordinance defines equity as all people having full and equal access to opportunities.
- Through a broad partnership, King County has implemented the ORCA Lift reduced-fare program, providing low-income populations more equitable access to public transportation and other services.
- King County is taking short-term steps to reduce the number of youth in detention, while working on a longer-term racial equity plan that fundamentally shifts the County's philosophy of juvenile justice and focuses on opportunities for youth.
- Together with The Seattle Foundation, we are investing in communities to build on local strengths and reverse increasing health, social, racial, and economic inequities.
- Executive Constantine convened a "Kitchen Cabinet" including farmers, restaurateurs, grocers, and food innovators to develop targets and actions for achieving a resilient, thriving local food system that is available to all communities.
Equity and social justice resources:
- INFOGRAPHIC: Building equity and opportunity in King County [view, share, or download]
- 2014 Equity and Social Justice Annual Report [PDF]
- Office of Equity and Social Justice
- Policy brief on building a shared and sustainable prosperity [PDF]
- Gráfica informativa sobre equidad social