The League Looks at Equity, Internally and Externally

As part of the League’s commitment to support equity, diversity and inclusion efforts, we are proud to share our new equity statement and recent findings from an equity survey conducted in February. The survey examined key equity indicators to help to assess the state of equity within communities in our network.

Some of the findings from this national survey showed a push in many communities to increase their diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over half of the respondents indicated that their municipality established an equity office or officer position in the past five years. While this news is hopeful, many reports share that challenges exist at the local level to fill available positions.

The League garnered some valuable feedback from the survey and is working to decide how to best utilize the feedback in our civic assistance work. Some of the feedback from the survey includes:

How are your community engagement practices changing to encourage more diverse voices?

“We make somewhat of an effort to reach more people in marginalized communities, but our efforts are not strong. This occurs by reaching out to nonprofits and service providers who are better connected with those communities to provide our information to them.”

“Increased digital engagement, subcontracting with community organizations, hiring of engagement manager, alignment of community engagement within the equity office, more Spanish language options.”

“More grass roots engagement (in neighborhoods, at kitchen tables, in parks) and more digital – online accessibility.”

“We try to connect with the diverse groups in our community to engage with them in meaningful ways. For example, we held town hall meetings around ARPA and held some of those at organizations that supported the Burmese, Latinx, and African American communities.”

“The City Council commissioned a Race and Equity Task Force to look at current city codes and policies to determine if any may contribute to discriminatory practices.”

“In the past two years, we have been researching and promoting community processes to examine and change historically named streets, parks, facilities that in present time are considered to be racist and/or are no longer aligned with community values of equity.”

“To date, the City’s parks, streets, and other historically significant facilities have not been the subject for conversation or a call for change. Many of the parks are named for families, previous City leaders, etc. However, the city is cognizant of its history and ensuring that all community members have access to, and feel comfortable at the City’s landmarks, living in their neighborhoods, attending schools, and visiting parks.”

75% of survey respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the progress they had made towards equity so far. Some of their thoughts include:

“Although we have not established some of the aforementioned items in this survey, the City is consciously keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront to allow for equity to take place where it may not have been available in the past. For instance, the Business Inclusion and Diversity (BID) Program allows for minority-owned businesses to have an equitable stake in city projects and initiatives.”

“The (city) has done a lot in the past seven years related to equity work. Especially considering a formal office of Equity & Engagement was just established in July 2022, and an Equity & Engagement Director was hired in January 2023. Our current strategic plan has 22 goals related to Equity and Racial Justice and we have made great strides in reaching those goals since its adoption in fall of 2021. There’s still lots to do, but I am confident in our efforts.”

“The (city) led the region and continues to do so, with respect to police reform and is moving to include pivotal training in implicit bias to all its employees.”

“Very little has been done. But there has also been very limited demand for that change to occur.”

“Not enough high-quality training, so those that sit on equity committees don’t truly understand it.”

“While its early, we now have a starting point and are building a foundation for future work, which is more than what we had before.”

” We should have done more, sooner.”

The National Civic League recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion work is never done and needs to be addressed not only in the work we do externally but also the work we do internally. Recently, the League updated and adopted a new statement on equity that will guide our organization in fulfilling its mission to advance civic engagement to create equitable, thriving communities. Please see our updated statement below:

The National Civic League holds equity and inclusion as core principles that are represented in all areas of our work. The National Civic League’s vision cannot be achieved without explicitly acknowledging how historical and systemic racial injustice has led to the disenfranchisement of and underinvestment in individuals, families and communities of color. Our mission will be realized only when we dismantle the corrosive inequities and repair past wrongs experienced by our underrepresented communities, and by doing so, pave the way for equitable advancement for all. “ 

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