Over the past several decades, Bellevue has grown from a quiet suburban bedroom community into a dynamic, international and multicultural city. The truth is, one only needs to look around to understand that the city mirrors the culturally diverse and globally interdependent world that we live in, and its diversity is an asset that makes our community unique and vibrant! The City Council’s vision statement begins, “Bellevue welcomes the world. Our diversity is our strength."
With the adoption of Bellevue’s Diversity Advantage Plan in 2014, the work of making this vision a reality has informed and fueled new citywide efforts to grow as a culturally competent organization and to broaden resident engagement. To accomplish this, Bellevue adopted a distinctive approach by forming a Diversity Advantage Team (including community engagement, organizational development and ADA/504/Title VI) to serve as drivers and catalysts for organizational and community change.
Bellevue’s diversity work is rooted in the principles of equity, access, inclusion, opportunity and cultural competence. These principles inform efforts underway to improve city policies, staffing and hiring, training, communications, services and outreach. For the community, this work is also improving our human services, public safety, education, economic development and civic engagement.
Promoting, understanding and practicing access equity, inclusion, opportunity and cultural competency is the responsibility of all.
Bellevue welcomes your participation in its programs.
You can attend meetings of the City Council and various boards and commissions. You can even serve on one of those boards, commissions or other bodies that advise the city. One such committee, the Bellevue Diversity Advisory Network, is working to improve outreach and relationships with isolated residents and communities.
You can also serve in volunteer positions for Parks & Community Services, the police and other departments. Last but not least, you can connect to the city through participation in programs such as Bellevue Essentials and the police Community Academy.
The city makes sure all people can participate in its meetings and activities. including people living with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English. Request accommodations on our Accessibility page.
“Bellevue welcomes the world. Our diversity is our strength. We embrace the future while respecting our past.” The opening statement of the City Council Vision is the driving force behind the Diversity Advantage initiative. The initiative's other guiding principles follow:
Access: Build an environment that values the abilities of all by proactively removing barriers and providing accommodations for full participation.
Equity: Create a fair and just community where equality is the outcome, by recognizing and correcting historic and systemic inequity.
Inclusion: Foster a welcoming city by providing a safe and gracious space where the entire community can engage in civic life.
Opportunity: Share prosperity by connecting residents, schools, businesses, faith and nonprofits to work together for the common good.
Understanding Cultural Competency: Produce equitable policies and practices, by developing skills and knowledge that facilitate effective interactions across diverse cultures.
Cultural Competence Objectives
To keep growing as a culturally competent organization, the City of Bellevue will:
- Enact and uphold equitable policies and practices
- Train and hire culturally competent staff
- Provide programs that are responsive and accessible to all
To keep growing as a culturally competent city, the Bellevue community must:
- Provide safe and welcoming living and working environments
- Collectively correct systemic inequities
- Respectfully engage cross-culturally in community life
- Express diversity through arts and culture.
To keep growing as a culturally competent economy, the Bellevue community must:
- Attract a diverse workforce to live here and work in local businesses
- Empower entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to start and grow businesses
- Provide community services that facilitate and support small business growth
- Make available culturally-specific goods and services sought by diverse cultures.
Since the city launched the Diversity Advantage initiative in December 2014, progress has been made on several fronts. Diversity Advantage Plan Progress Report
Diversity Liaisons and Employee Resource Groups: Diversity liaisons have been selected for each city department, tailoring diversity work to staff and serving as conduits to support ideas and concerns. Employee resource groups help raise awareness about discrimination and inequity for minority groups.
Diversity and Equity Training: By 2020, all city staff will have had cultural competence training.
Equitable Hiring and Advancement: The Human Resources Department has changed its recruitment methods, including providing implicit bias training to hiring managers, to reach and hire a more diverse talent pool. Through a supported employment program, people living with cognitive disabilities work for the city.
Equitable Procurement: Through workshops for diverse businesses and other measures, the city is ensuring that small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities, have opportunities to bid for city projects.
More Accessibility: A hearing loop system that transmits to hearing aids was installed in the council chamber, council study room and Bellevue Youth Theatre in 2016, increasing accessibility for people with hearing impairments.
Translation and Interpretation Assistance: Non-native English speakers can get help with on-site bilingual staff, cultural navigators at Mini City Hall, as well as interpretation devices for simultaneous translation at public meetings and toll-free phone interpretation.
The following documents offer more details about the progress being made on this initiative: