Operating Principles

Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities Operating Principles

Adopted December 6, 2018


Equity is a journey toward well-being, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, as defined by those impacted by inequity. Equity is not equality—equity acknowledges that everyone is not starting from the same place. Equity is achievable and requires unwavering commitment to prioritizing resources and supports toward communities of color and other marginalized communities. Achieving equity requires us to identify, name, and dismantle institutional racism and oppression.


We are committed to promoting equity for all historically marginalized communities. However, we recognize that racism is ingrained in our history and deeply embedded in our institutions today, leading to the inequities we see across all sectors. Therefore, while we seek to challenge and undo all forms of oppression, we are committed to centering racism as our primary focus.


We acknowledge that health is much more than access to healthcare services or absence of injury and illness. Health starts where we live, learn, work, and play and is shaped by our exposures and experiences across the lifespan. We recognize that achieving health equity requires equitable opportunity across all sectors. Therefore, we embrace our interagency structure and ability to work across government sectors to promote equitable opportunity for all.


We recognize that we can only achieve health equity if communities impacted by health inequities are at the center of our work. We acknowledge that communities know best their assets, needs, and solutions. We strive to recognize and share power and structure our meetings to foster meaningful engagement. We will find opportunities as a Council, individual members, and staff to attend community meetings to listen, learn, and seek input to guide our work. We will strive to incorporate stories of lived experience into our reports and recommendations.


Health inequities exist because of racism and oppression that hinder opportunities for communities to thrive. Eliminating racism and oppression requires revolutionary change. We commit to using the authority we have and our collective influence to push for revolutionary change. We will use our time in Council meetings to engage in action-oriented discussions and we will commit as individual Council members to be bold and serve as champions for equity in our respective agencies.


Policy, program, and budget decisions can have adverse unintended consequences if equity is not intentionally and systematically considered. We commit to using an equity lens in the development of recommendations as a Council and in our decisions as individual Council members in our respective agencies. We honor the Seven Generation Principle1 as standing in the present, while looking back three generations to the wisdom and experience of our ancestors, thinking about issues in the current context, and planning forward for three generations for the protection of our children and the generations to come.

1 We acknowledge the Tribal and Urban Indian Pulling Together for Wellness Leadership Advisory Council, American Indian Health Commission for Washington State for sharing this articulation of the the Seven Generation Principle.