GRI photo identifier

2014 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Social Impact

Community Engagement (SO1)

Ecology’s community engagement work includes environmental and social impact assessments, community development programs, public disclosure, and stakeholder engagement initiatives that address challenges and create solutions that contribute to the improvement of economic, environmental, and social conditions across the state of Washington.

Many services are offered to our stakeholders (and some are required by law) through a wide range of environmental programs at Ecology including: Enforcement, Environmental Assessment, Environmental Education, Grants and Loans, Permitting, State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Site Clean Up, Spill Response, Technical Assistance, and Watershed Planning.

Communication & Education at Ecology

Ecology uses a nimble, responsive communications team to continually assess the most effective ways to deliver timely, useful information to the public and media.

Ecology’s communications team:

  • We help people understand how our agency protects the quality of Washington’s air, water, and soil. We help our scientists and engineers consider the perspective of those outside of the agency, and how best to reach and communicate with them.
  • We stay current with rapidly evolving technology to make sure we are using the right tools to reach our audiences.
  • We work with translators to ensure that non-English speakers also receive our news and we are expanding our outreach to non English-speaking communities.


Our pages average 19,000 hits a day. Since launching in August 1994, our website has become a central part of our communications efforts. Our site has information of interest to residents, permit holders, scientists, business owners, tribes, policy makers, other government offices, and others.

We are in the middle of a multi-year project that’s looking at how well our website functions, where improvements can be made, and how we can make it more mobile friendly.

Social media

We make a concerted effort to use social media consistently and strategically, and have had success with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and blogging. Increasingly, we are also using other tools, like YouTube and Instagram, to creatively share our stories.

Social media has become a primary tool when communicating about oil spills in Washington waters and other emergencies. Twitter is a particularly effective way to share breaking, emergency-related news.

Traditional media

News releases and media are powerful outreach tools for us. We work and interview with local and national media on a wide variety of topics every day to share our stories. Over the past four months, we’ve done more than 100 media interviews per month.


Ecology’s environmental programs and administrative operations actively promote local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs, including Ecology’s Environmental Justice Committee, which emphasizes engagement with and impact assessments on low income and/or minority communities.

All of Ecology’s programs and many administrative divisions are involved to some degree in community engagement. The table below highlights specific examples from Ecology’s operations.

ProgramSO1 IndicatorDescriptionData Source
Admin Svc / FacilitiesPublic Disclosure RequestsEcology processes over 20,000 public disclosure requests per year.Public disclosure Coordinator (Linda Anderson)
EAPBEACH ProgramAnalyzes water quality at saltwater beaches and communicates results to the public.
W2RPublic Participation GrantsEducates communities affected by contaminated site cleanups allowing those affected a voice in cleanup investigation and remediation.

Ethics Training at Ecology (SO3)

The citizens of the state expect all state officials and employees to perform their public responsibilities with the highest ethical and moral standards. The most important principle is that public office - whether elected or appointed - may not be used for personal gain or private advantage. Agency approved classroom training on the state’s current ethics laws is required for all employees within six months of hire and must be renewed every three years.

Of the 1,633 employees at Ecology 44% are current with their ethics training. Out of the total 1,633 employees, 139 are new hires within the last six months of FY 2014. Thirty-six percent(36%) of those hired in the last six months of FY14 have taken Ethics training since their appointment.

The social impacts of organizations are linked to interactions with market structures and social institutions that establish the social environment within which stakeholder groups interact. These interactions, as well as the organization’s approach to dealing with social groups such as communities, represent an important component of sustainability performance.