Experts argue that agencies having staff dedicated to equity and inclusion play an important role for government work, from strategic planning, to operations, to the rise of digital government services.

By Julia Edinger

Staff focused on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work play a major role for government agencies in better serving constituents through technology — from the general IT work to more nuanced digital equity efforts.

Government agencies are increasingly taking into consideration the value of EDI, as this work can help combat systemic inequities. And a commitment to these issues helps government more equitably serve constituents in areas ranging from accessing digital services to the procurement process.

EDI efforts in the tech space are especially important in the digital age, when so many aspects of daily life rely on technology and Internet access, as explained by Timniyha Owens-Staples, EDI specialist within the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Owens-Staples was recently recognized by the Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce as one of the organization’s 2023 40 Under 40 Business Leaders, an accomplishment they attribute to the work they have done in this space with different organizations and in participation with the state equity task force. As Owens-Staples explained, it is important that digital services are accessible to those from different backgrounds and with different abilities, and especially the most historically marginalized communities.

It is also critical not to have a single staff member — or even one team — dedicated to this work, but rather a shared understanding of the importance of EDI work across different roles and levels of an organization or agency, Owens-Staples said.

“And it’s also important that the teams that are making those technology decisions are included and led by people who share those different lived experiences and identities, too,” Owens-Staples said.