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Diversity Office Dismantled: County Scraps $1M Annual Program

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Clackamas County, Oregon, is dismantling its $830,000 per year diversity, equity, and inclusion office, citing a focus on merit, fairness, and equality, and a rejection of racializing the workplace.

The decision follows a history of equity efforts, with a three-person office established in 2020 amid racial justice protests.

The move has sparked mixed reactions, with some supporting the decision while others view it as a setback in addressing racism and sexism.

“[We] believed that it was really important to focus on merit, fairness and equality, not to racialize the workplace and the county,” Clackamas County Commissioner Ben West said.

“We didn’t want that in our county any longer.”

The county’s administrator announced the dissolution of the office, transferring its positions to other departments.

“This is not about a budget, it’s not about a financial crisis — it’s about racism, sexism and all the things that this country is trying to overcome,” former Clackamas County diversity manager Emmett Wheatfall said.

The decision reflects the county’s commitment to a “diversity of ideas” over identity politics, according to West.

“We value you regardless of your immutable traits,” West said. “Those are not the things that make you unique and special to Clackamas County. It’s that individual spark inside you that does, that makes you a person.”

The move falls within a broader trend of organizations rolling back diversity initiatives in the wake of political unrest following George Floyd’s killing in 2020.

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