Organizations that prioritize inclusivity and value diversity benefit from the richness of unique perspectives and skills that different people can bring to local government and the broader community. In workplaces where individuals feel safe to be their authentic selves, people can thrive, and their organizations can thrive in turn. It is important to note that improving organizational diversity is not a linear process but an iterative process that will take years to realize. But, it only takes moments to commit to improving diversity and starting the work.
How to Get Started on Organizational Diversity in Municipal Operations:
- Understanding Historic and Modern Contexts of U.S. Equity Issues – Community leaders should read through information provided in the resources below to better understand the core concepts of racial equity, the history of racism and racial justice movements in the United States, and data on demographics and racial justice. This knowledge will allow community leaders to better understand the issues plaguing folks that hold different identities. Allowing for a more robust definition of diversity.
- Develop criteria which define diversity- Creating and adopting a definition of diversity. will allow your organization to reduce discrimination by having a standard level of understanding across the organization. This definition should be more inclusive than what is legally required in your area. This definition may then lead to changes in recruitment strategies, retainment and satisfaction.
- Understanding Local Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Baseline – To create a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and equity, a municipality must first understand its organizational barriers to inclusion. Investing in the services of an experienced third party DEI consultant, someone who is equipped to assess the situation and offer meaningful feedback and recommendations, is a best practice in developing a strategy to improve a municipality’s equity practices and policies. The “Solving Organizational Barriers,” listed in the resources found below can be used as an entry point to municipalities unable to utilize a consultant.
- Develop a Vision to Cultivate Inclusivity: – By Creating a vision creates a shared goal to reach. Therefore, the vision must include information specifically how diversity and inclusion will positively impact the organization. The vision must also have the buy in from folks throughout the organization. The vision should utilize the definition of diversity that had been created, it should also use the information gathered from the research in steps one and three.
- Drive Change: Develop policies utilizing the vision as the guide. Creating policies that tackle things such as the hiring process, recruitment and mandatory education for employees.
- Follow Legal Precedents – Municipalities need to be aware that they cannot create quotas for hiring a certain number of any one protected class (e.g. women, African Americans, etc.), nor can they use protected class status as a factor in determining who to hire without creating potential liability. When taking any steps related to diversity and improving hiring practices, please consult your solicitors before enacting proposed changes to avoid missteps.