The goal of our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Equal Employment efforts is to make the DC Courts a Great Place to Work for everyone.
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender—the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used—but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
Reference: UC Berkeley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, “Glossary of Terms” (page 34 in 2009 Strategic Plan).
Racial equity is a process of eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for everyone. It is the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems, and structures by prioritizing measurable change in the lives of people of color.
Equity refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and overcome intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or systemic structures.
Reference: National Association of Colleges and Employers
Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.
Reference: Open Source Leadership Strategies
Belonging: Belonging means that everyone is treated and feels like a full member of the larger community and can thrive.
Reference: Harvard Glossary of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Terms
Learn more about our Equal Employment Opportunity policy.
It is District of Columbia Courts policy to provide equal employment opportunities for all persons; to prohibit discrimination in employment on account of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, national origin, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibility, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business; and to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity by establishing and maintaining an affirmative action program with respect to personnel policies and practices in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment of employees.
Any employee who believes he/she has been discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, national origin, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibility, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, and place of residence or business, may file a complaint with the Courts' Tiffany.Adams-Moore [at] dccsystem.gov (Equal Employment Opportunity Officer).
Further details regarding the Equal Employment Opportunity policy are in Personnel Policy 400 of the District of Columbia Courts Comprehensive Personnel Policies. For more information, contact the EEO Office at (202) 879-1010.
The past few years have brought the need for racial equity and equal access to justice to the forefront of our society in unexpected ways and under extraordinary circumstances.
Following the review of a comprehensive racial equity proposal submitted by the District of Columbia Courts' Standing Committee on Fairness and Access, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration has launched the Racial Equity Initiative to establish a comprehensive strategy and next steps to assess our processes, policies and procedures through a racial equity lens.
Racial equity is about closing the racial divide so that race is not a predictor of potential, opportunity, access or equality. Racial inequity will not go away on its own. Intentional, mindful strategies and tools are necessary to fix what is within our control. Across the country, state courts are working in partnership with communities to dismantle structural racism and accelerate a more equitable future for all.
We're committed to intensifying efforts to address inequities in our justice system, and to make the systemic changes required to ensure that equal access to justice is a reality for all.
The Racial Equity Initiative consists of a four-pronged approach, including:
- Expanding our education and training on racial equity.
- Hiring a racial equity consultant to conduct an overall examination of our operations throughout the D.C. Courts through a racial equity lens; including systematic data collection and analysis across our processes and procedures and an evaluation of our existing hiring and employment practices for staff, including judicial staff. The consultant selected is the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).
- Gauging interest in establishing a coalition of outside stakeholders and agency partners to implement changes across the D.C. criminal and civil justice system as needed.
- Establishing an advisory committee to plan and facilitate internal efforts, programs, meetings and strategies to promote and enhance a culture of racial equity within the Courts. The committee's charter and list of members is here.
Next Steps: External Stakeholder Engagement
Our chief judges have invited external stakeholders and court participants to provide feedback in a survey on racial equity in the DC Courts. This survey is part of an initiative, conducted by the DC Courts and the National Center for State Courts, to examine racial disparities in the court system and identify reforms to promote racial equity.
The National Center for State Courts is currently administering the survey. The survey responses will help inform Courts leadership about future policies and procedures, and experiences that are vital to informing the Courts' racial equity practices.
See the below video to learn more about the survey and what lies ahead for the Racial Equity Initiative.
Under our Constitution, everyone deserves a fair trial. It is the DC Superior Court's goal in every jury trial to find jurors who will decide the case before them fairly, without prejudice or bias. This video discusses what implicit or unconscious bias is, and why we should all keep biases out of the courtroom.
This video is shown to jurors before a trial begins. It may not be rebroadcast or otherwise used without the Superior Court's written consent. If you have questions or want to request permission to use the video, please contact claire.huber(at)dccsystem.gov.