Skip to main content

Racial Equity

In 2020, the commissioners added the pursuit of Racial Equity as one of their core principles of good governance.

It is a recognition that, while opportunities abound in Franklin County, they aren’t equally available to everyone, and that the American Dream isn’t actually available to all Americans.  

Racial disparities in education, income, health, and economic mobility are keeping our community from realizing its full potential.

 Interaction Institute for Social Change graphic

Image Credit: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The commissioners created the county Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2020 to begin to address systemic inequities and disparities throughout the county by developing and implementing changes in internal and external policy and practices. 

The office focuses on county processes for contracting, as well as hiring, promotion, and discipline, and began its work with Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency Trainings for BOC employees, and a comprehensive Cultural Climate Audit to study the organization’s demographics, cultural competence, structural accountability, and culture of inclusivity.

our highest priorities and fundamental driving forces. 


using principle ways to carry out those goals. 


The results offer a roadmap for improvement and a benchmark against which future improvements can be measured.

The Racial Equity Council

The Racial Equity Council was formed in 2021 with representatives from each of the commissioners’ agencies to lead the office’s internal discussion of race and inequity, and to create recommendations to improve our office’s climate, accessibility, and inclusivity.

The Racial Equity Council developed a set of 11 recommendations to ensure that DEI becomes a part of our DNA, and that Board of Commissioners agencies reflect the community we serve.

1 Establish DEI standards and criteria for all Board of Commissioners agencies and community partners.
2 Create Racial Equity Council sub-groups within the various BOC agencies.
3 Engage a DEI trauma specialist to work with the board and its agencies.
4 Create trainings to build empathy, create safe spaces, and generate buy-in and support.
5 Infuse recruitment and retention efforts with DEI best practices.
6 Implement and maintain DEI standards for commissioner agencies.
7 Infuse contracting and purchasing processes with DEI best practices.
8 Enhance county resident experiences with all agencies.
9 Showcase the resources available in the community to support all Franklin County partners.
10 Evaluate external partnerships and build-in equity expectations.
11 Tell our story about how Franklin County is engraining racial equity into operations and services.

The commissioners’ Racial Equity Council works to help make DEI part of the county’s DNA.

Business Growth and Equity Fund

In 2020, the commissioners partnered with the Columbus Urban League to create the Business Growth and Equity Fund to provide support for minority-owned businesses, and in 2021, they added nearly $1 million in additional funding to be divided between grants and loans for small businesses still struggling in the pandemic economy. 

  • The Program drew wide interest with more than 4,300 inquiries.
  • More than 2,440 of those businesses filed applications within the first month and a half.
  • Zip Codes 43219 and 43229 had the highest concentration of applicants.
  • THOUGH NOT ELIGIBLE, businesses in several other states applied for the funds, including residents from Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Diversity Apprentice Program

In June of last year, the commissioners partnered with the City of Columbus and our community’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Experience Columbus, to create a Diversity Apprentice Program designed to help increase diversity and improve equity in the travel and tourism industry. 

The program is providing hands-on experience in one of three specialty tracks:

Destination, Sports, and Meetings and Events, to a diverse group of apprentices interested in pursuing a career in travel, tourism, and hospitality.

young somali and african american teenagers

Small and Emerging Business Enterprises

For years, the commissioners' Purchasing Department has worked to increase the diversity of the companies with which the county does business, and to ensure that they reflect the community that we represent. 
A specialized position was created within Purchasing to help market the county to small and emerging business enterprises, and small businesses with owners who are women, minorities, veterans, members of the LGBT community, or economically disadvantaged.

In 2021, the county had 445 purchase orders with small and emerging business enterprises that were qualified under a number of different systems: