In Milwaukee County, we are taking an all-hands approach to realizing our vision that by achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin. Together we will dismantle institutional racism in our organization and build up policies, practices and a culture that ensures race no longer predicts health outcomes, and outcomes for everyone improve.
We enhance the quality of life in Milwaukee County through great public service.
By achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin.
Respect: We work with and for others.
Integrity: We do the right thing.
Excellence: We never stop improving.
By Achieving Racial Equity, Milwaukee Will Be the Healthiest County in Wisconsin
Milwaukee County acknowledges that explicitly and implicitly racist policies and practices at the local, state and federal government levels have worked to the advantage of white people and to the disadvantage of people of color. While these discriminatory policies and practices may not appear to have any correlation with health outcomes, the impact along racial lines is indisputable. Race is a leading predictor of both quality and length of life. In Milwaukee County a white person will live on average 14 years longer than a black person, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
If health impacts are the effect, it is on local government to change the cause.
To affect change, Milwaukee County's strategic direction will examine how policy, budget and operational decisions made by each department impact residents.
While it will be a long, difficult, sometimes challenging path, Milwaukee County is committed to achieving real, and lasting change. Racial equity is larger than ensuring that race will no longer be a predictor of a resident’s health. When racial equity is achieved, outcomes for everyone will improve.
Racial equity is not a project at Milwaukee County—it is the way forward.
Check Out Our Framework
In 2019, Milwaukee County launched its first strategic plan in 20 years. This plan explicitly recognizes racism as a public health crisis and leads with the vision that: By achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin.
The planning process will continue throughout 2020 and engage employees, community partners and residents around the following three-year objective categories:
- Diverse & Inclusive Workforce: Milwaukee County employees, especially managers and directors, are disproportionately white and do not reflect the demographics of those we serve. We must continue building an inclusive county government in which our workforce reflects the full diversity of our community.
- People-focused Design: To enhance the quality of life for all of those we serve, we must ensure that our services meet everyone’s needs. No one knows how the shoe pinches like the person wearing it, and public participation in our decision-making will improve the quality of services we deliver and ensure we all have access to the quality of life Milwaukee County residents deserve. As we better understand our customers’ needs, we will reprioritize what services are provided, as well as how and where they are provided, in order to improve the customer experience for all Milwaukee residents.
- Employee Perspective: In addition to engaging directly with our customers, we must actively engage our employees. Thousands of Milwaukee County employees directly serve residents each day, and their perspectives must be included to continually improve our policies and practices and make them more equitable.
- Improved Performance & Equitable Practice: We all share a commitment to improving the quality of life for Milwaukee County residents, and yet we know we’re falling short. We must evaluate the services we offer and continuously improve them in order to improve the quality of life for all of those we serve.
- Fiscal Health: Over the past decade, we have cut an average of $28 million annually. Despite these cuts and continued deferred maintenance, we still have a structural deficit that will require more tough choices for years to come. We must find sustainable revenue sources and continue to pursue organizational efficiencies so we can make meaningful investments to advance racial equity.
Although the journey started long before 2019 and will continue long after, Milwaukee County is driving full speed ahead toward its vision: By achieving racial equity, Milwaukee is the healthiest county in Wisconsin.