DeKalb County begins work on ‘comprehensive equity strategy’

DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson. SPECIAL PHOTO

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DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson. SPECIAL PHOTO

DeKalb County has linked up with a leading nonprofit to explore how its policies and practices could be more equitable for both employees and the public.

The Board of Commissioners voted last week to spend up to $210,000 to work with the Atlanta-based Partnership for Southern Equity to develop a comprehensive, data-driven strategy. The strategy is the next step in a process triggered in 2020, when DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson and colleagues adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.

Over the next year-plus, the nonprofit will provide internal interviews, training, reports and recommendations to help guide county officials and staff in their quest to create more equity — racial and otherwise — in the way the government does business, a press release said.

“We are excited about this partnership and recognize the importance of collecting the voice of our employees,” Johnson said. “Equity is the process of identifying and removing the barriers that create disparities in the access to resources and means, and the achievement of fair treatment and equal opportunities to thrive.”

The nonprofit will aim to provide recommendations on how DeKalb can increase, measure and “operationalize” equity in policies it sets, as well as in recruitment, hiring and retention. Documents said it could also include a feasibility analysis for the creation of a county Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

The city of Atlanta has a similar office.

In a press release, Partnership for Southern Equity founder Nathanial Smith said the nonprofit was honored to be working with the county as it “reimagines what is possible for all DeKalb residents.”