Wednesday - Nov 14, 2018

City of Asheville equity initiative lays groundwork with employees, identifies growth areas for increased service to the community


equity photo illustration

 

A year after the City of Asheville hired its first Equity & Inclusion Manager, here is an update to the community on how this initiative has progressed.

 

In July 2017, the City of Asheville’s announced the hiring of Kimberlee Archie as its first Equity & Inclusion Manager. She has since been named director and in the City’s 2018-2019 budget, City Council authorized the hiring of additional staff to expand this initiative.

During the first year of the City’s Equity & Inclusion initiative, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) worked with the City of Asheville to survey employees as part of the City’s equity work. From February through April 2018, City of Asheville employees participated in an Equity Assessment Survey developed by GARE. This survey has been tested and used at other jurisdictions that are a part of the GARE Membership Network.

 

The findings

The survey asked questions about employee:

  • Understanding of racial equity;
  • Knowledge of the jurisdiction’s policies and practices to advance racial equity;
  • Awareness of the jurisdiction’s and their departments’ plans to advance racial equity; and
  • Knowledge and perceptions of the jurisdiction’s efforts to engage the broad community, including its communities of color, and community partnerships to advance racial equity.

 

Overall, the findings indicate that the 53% City of Asheville employees who took the survey have a solid understanding of the importance of addressing the impact of race, and the underpinning racial equity concepts.

“I was glad to see that many of our employees already have an understanding of racial equity,” said Equity & Inclusion Director Kimberlee Archie. “I plan on building on this foundation with innovative and dynamic training for staff over the next year.”

Those that have participated in racial equity work — developing tools, action plans, or working groups — have seen the benefits of racial equity work. With this groundwork laid, there is momentum to carry the work forward by identifying new mechanisms to engage additional staff and empowering those currently involved to deepen their skills.

“Along with the great news that the staff has an understanding of equity, the survey identified some areas for organizational growth,” Archie said.

For example, the assessment highlighted room for growth for departments working to improve services for communities of color and increase community input into decision-making.

 

Next steps

Finally, the results suggest that active leadership and more employee communication will facilitate stronger partnerships, staff engagement and improved outcomes for all. The data yielded from this survey are useful for shaping a long-term organizational equity strategy and informing the work of the Racial Equity Core Team in advancing the City’s initiatives.

To that end, staff can expect more training and opportunities to engage with the equity core team in the coming months. Additionally, the department now has a presence on the City’s website, a resource page for employees on the City’s Intranet (One Asheville) and an adopted Equity Action Plan.

“The Equity Action Plan is a strategic roadmap,” Archie explained. “The plan begins internally, looking at how we as an organization can operate from a racial equity lens and improve community outcomes where disparities currently exist.”

The assessment is the first phase in a longer-term capacity-building initiative to support the implementation of City Council’s Vision 2036 and ensure that Asheville’s employees and departments can advance a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse city government.

To view the full results, visit this link.

 

For more information on the City’s equity and inclusion efforts, contact Kimberlee Archie at KArchie@ashevillenc.gov or 828-232-4517.

 

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