Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Welcome to the Cal OES Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
As part of its continued commitment to make emergency management equity-centered, Cal OES formally created the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2022, to elevate and expand current equity and access programs and embed equity and engagement principles throughout Cal OES’s actions, policies, programs, and procedures, both internally and externally. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion works to ensure that principles of equity, justice, inclusion, transparency, and accountability govern all aspects of emergency services.
For more information, see Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order on equity, N-15-22.
To integrate equity into all aspects of emergency management, foster community resilience, and put diversity into purposeful and meaningful action.
We celebrate and harness the power of diversity within our organization, throughout our communities, and among our partners demonstrating concern, cultural humility, and compassion for all.
We know we cannot be equitable without being inclusive to diverse voices, and thus we continue to build a culture of belonging, respect, empowerment, and connection by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all people. At Cal OES, diversity is an asset, one which is essential for a more resilient California.
We commit to creating, implementing, and continually improving our organizational policies and practices to support and encourage diverse leadership and staff at all levels, valuing individual lived experience, and promoting opportunities for each of us to thrive and achieve.
We commit to fostering cultural practices and behaviors that respect and empower all voices and diverse perspectives and experiences, regardless of role and relationship, so that everyone feels secure, valued, and accepted as their authentic selves. We know doing so requires openness, humility, courage, and hard work. We believe that our best work will be achieved in a culture built on mutual respect and trust.
We envision a prepared, resilient, and safe California for all, where every community has the resources it needs to thrive in the face of emergencies.
We envision a prepared, resilient, and safe California for all, where every community has the resources it needs to thrive in the face of emergencies, especially communities of color, people with access and functional needs, low-income households, immigrant populations, and Tribal, Native American, and Indigenous communities. We envision our state to be a place where all groups and individuals receive full access to emergency services regardless of their socio-historical, cultural, linguistic, or economic backgrounds, and the environmental and or systemic barriers they face, where programs and services address the social, economic, cultural, and linguistic needs of the individuals they serve, where we use our diversity as a source of strength, and where we embrace a joint responsibility to take care of one another.
We envision an inclusive workplace culture that understands the need for and operationalizes equity by utilizing the expertise of a diverse workforce, that celebrates the differences of our employees, ensures everyone feels valued, respected and empowered, and enhances the connections we have to the communities in which we live, work, and serve, engaging in mutual learning with those we serve.
Principles & Practices
Cal OES is committed to working in alignment with the following principles and practices.
- Lead with Humility
- Engage in Mutual Learning
- Cultivate a Culture of Innovation, Respect, Inclusion, and Belonging
- Utilize Collaborative Partnerships
- Serve California with Integrity
- Leading with Humility
- ODEI recognizes it is important to approach every emergency with an open mind and an understanding that survivors may be experiencing trauma and hardship. It is also important to understand the historical trauma experience the communities you are serving may have, their resilience, and the environmental injustices they may be facing, as all influence perspectives, experiences, and outcomes related to government interactions.
- Residents of under-resourced communities may distrust State and local agencies based on experiences of discrimination or neglect. Histories of redlining and other forms of systemic discrimination have understandably compromised trust in government for many communities of color. In addition, it is important to recognize the violence, maltreatment, and neglect the State has inflicted on California Native American Tribal Communities, Governments, and Polities. Governor Newsom’s 2019 apology for the State’s historical wrongs committed against California Native Americans was an important step toward building a stronger relationship with Tribes and Native American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Indigenous communities. Other populations that may not trust government include immigrants — specifically those with undocumented status — certain rural communities, and other historically under-represented groups. Understanding the past, and how it continues to influence the present, is key to facilitating the development of good rapport. ODEI has an opportunity to build trust slowly and incrementally within these communities by partnering with trusted local organizations and institutions and maintaining frequent two-way communication.
- Engaging in Mutual Learning
- ODEI embraces the reality that people are the experts of their own lives and should be partners in government decisions that impact them. Actively listening to those we serve and engaging in mutual learning can help Cal OES better understand how to support local communities and improve policies and programs to ensure better and more meaningful implementation at the local level.
- Emergency management practices should embody a spirit of care, cooperation, and collectivism among peoples and communities. This is embodied by practices such as knowledge and resource sharing and mutual aid. Empowering communities to shape emergency management with real-world needs leads to policy, programs, and practices rooted in equity and more effective outcomes.
- Cultivating a Culture of Innovation, Respect, Inclusion, and Belonging, Utilizing Diversity as a Powerful Asset
- Like emergency management, DEI involves reflection and continuous learning. Training and education will be a continuous practice and the ODEI will lean on our diverse workforce for equity and inclusion ideas and improvements. Utilizing diversity brings multiple perspectives, which enables better problem solving with more innovative solutions. ODEI champions the view that diversity needs to be celebrated and fully utilized, equity is a transformative choice, inclusion is an active practice, and belonging is an outcome (Arthur Chan, LinkedIn, 2021).
- Utilizing Collaborative Partnerships
- ODEI is a relatively new office and we know there are agencies and communities that have the experience and best practices that will help our office realize our goals. Thus, we are using a team-based approach, engaging equity champions across community-based, local, state, federal, and global agencies and organizations in the pursuit of our vision.
- Serving California with Integrity
- Cal OES sets an example for the rest of the country, and arguably for the world, on how to conduct emergency management. It is important to uphold the highest of ethical standards and act with integrity in everything we do, so that others will follow suit. integrity can be defined as always interacting with others ethically and honorably, treating every person with respect and that they matter, approaching work with honesty and accountability.
- To act with integrity means that all phases of emergency management must be built on:
- Commitment: Articulate an authentic commitment to utilizing diversity, challenging the status quo, holding others and ourselves accountable, and making equity and inclusion an organizational priority.
- Humility: Be modest and honest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.
- Having an Awareness of Bias: Showing awareness of blind spots, as well as flaws in the system, and working to continuously reevaluate and combat bias.
- Cultural Appreciation: Demonstrating an open mindset and respectful curiosity about others, listening without judgment, and seeking with empathy to understand, celebrate, and utilize difference.
- Cultural intelligence: Being attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required.
- Effective collaboration: Empowering others by upholding principles of deep democracy, participatory decision-making, and self-governance, actively seeking feedback and always striving to improve.
- Adapted from:
- CHCF’s DEI Statement
- Defining Vulnerable Communities in the Context of Climate Adaptation, ICARP
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Disaster Planning and Response | SAMHSA
- GARE-Racial_Equity_Toolkit.pdf (racialequityalliance.org)
- Guiding Principles and Strategic Priorities, Cal HHS
- How Diversity Makes Us Smarter | Greater Good (berkeley.edu)
- Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook, Greenlining.org
- NAACP Environmental & Climate Justice Program 2018 “In the Eye of the Storm: A People’s Guide to Transforming Crisis and Advancing Equity in the Disaster Continuum”
- SGC Catalyst Model Element: Prioritize partnerships between community organizations and research institutions – Strategic Growth Council; Technical Assistance Guidelines – Strategic Growth Council
- The Diversity Equity and Inclusion page at DGS (ca.gov)
- The Key to Inclusive Leadership (hbr.org)
With the support of ongoing state legislature funding, the Listos California Grant Program works to increase community preparedness through equitable outreach efforts for vulnerable populations in California. Listos California leverages a grassroots field strategy partnering with local trusted messengers across the state to boost resiliency in socially marginalized communities. Listos California partners with Community-Based Organizations (CBO), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and federally recognized Tribal Nations in California to prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies.
Listos California has created over 130+ free online materials available in 20+ languages to promote disaster preparedness. The materials housed in the resource hub on ListosCalifornia.org provides culturally competent, accessible, in-language information to advance a new culture of disaster preparedness.
Listos California continues to collaborate with trusted local leaders to support priority populations, including individuals in areas geographically isolated or households with low broadband subscription, farmworkers, households with limited English proficiency, immigrants and refugees, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, and older adults.
- The California Strategic Growth Council’s (SGC) Racial Equity Resource Hub was developed to facilitate greater understanding and access to the resources, trainings, templates, networks, and other materials used to advance racial equity at the State level.
- California SGC’s “Technical Assistance Guidelines for State Agencies” is a web-based toolkit that offers best practices to help State agencies evaluate options, make key decisions, and avoid pitfalls as they develop effective technical assistance programs. While State agencies are the primary audience for the Technical Assistance Guidelines, other stakeholders seeking to provide or receive technical assistance will likely find the manual useful. Mandated by SB 1072, SGC developed this resource in collaboration with 13 State agencies and incorporated public input from diverse stakeholders into the final version of this guidance.
- The NAACP “In the Eye of the Storm: A People’s Guide to Transforming Crisis & Advancing Equity in the Disaster Continuum” is designed to assist emergency services personnel through the process of building equity into the four phases of emergency management: prevention and mitigation, preparedness and resilience building, response and relief, and recovery and redevelopment.
- US. Department of Health & Human Services SAMHSA’s “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Disaster Planning and Response” website provides important information and resources that can help make emergency management more equity centered.
- The “City of Long Beach: Equity Toolkit” includes an overview of what equity means and provides specific strategies that can be applied to government work to make positive changes through policies, programs, and services.
- The “Racial Equity Toolkit: An Opportunity to Operationalize Equity“, published by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) is designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in government decisions, including policies, practices, programs, and budgets. It is both a product and a process and can be used to help develop strategies and actions that reduce racial inequities and improve success for all groups.
- The State of Oregon’s “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan: A Roadmap to Racial Equity and Belonging” is a fantastic guide for organizations working for equitable change.
- “Inclusive & Equitable Emergency Management for LGBTQIA+ Communities” by Out for Sustainability is a report that provides recommendations for how emergency responders and faith-based organizations can incorporate LGBTQIA+ considerations in their work around preparedness and mitigation as well as recovery and response.
- The Public Health Institute’s “Embedding Equity into Emergency Operations: Strategies for Local Health Departments during COVID-19 and Beyond” outlines case studies, resources, and priority recommendations that counties and cities can take to explicitly and intentionally embed equity staff and practices into their emergency operations structures.
- Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative’s (BARHII)”Farther Together: Seven Best Practices for Engaging Communities to Create a Healthy, Resilient Region for All” is the result of pilot deep community engagement processes in two under-resourced locations aimed at understanding how sea level rise intersects with ongoing community challenges and examining strategies to increase the physical, economic, and social resilience of under-resourced neighborhoods.
- BARHII’s ”COVID-19 Equity Investment Guide: Local Policy and Investment Priorities for an Equitable Rolling Recovery” is an investment guide to support local governments in planning for recovery processes that safeguard health and economic well-being.
- Take free classes with The Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, the experts in helping changemakers from around the world build more just and inclusive communities.