How ICMA and Deloitte are Improving Equity and Inclusion
ICMA and Deloitte have developed particularly handy resources for local governments to expand their DEI efforts. Let’s explore a few of the key recurring ideas promoted by their expertise.
In the ICMA Equity & Inclusion Toolkit, ICMA makes key recommendations applicable to all efforts to support DEI. Simply put, those recommendations call on local officials to weigh the impact of DEI on program development, and then build relationships based on trust around diversity.
ICMA further advises local governments to review current policies and adopt equitable compensation practices, then follow up by establishing training programs and DEI leadership. Throughout it all, cities and counties should maintain an open, welcoming dialogue with new and existing stakeholders.
ICMA highlights Asheville, N.C., and its appointment of an equity manager to promote access, equity and diversity throughout the city’s procurement processes.
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Asheville's Implementation of the Equity Activation Model
In 2020, Asheville reacted to a 2018 study that found the city awarded only 0.5 percent of city contracts to Black-owned businesses. The city council shifted municipal policy from a “race-neutral” to a “race-conscious” approach for minority business contracting, also setting measurable goals for diversity in awards.
Deloitte spotlighted the city’s effort in explaining its new government equity activation model, which identifies three spheres of influence: workforce, vendor ecosystems, and communities and society.
New and creative approaches to sourcing may overcome previous inequities in procurement, Deloitte says. Few change agents are as powerful as money, and contracting agencies can use government spending to foster diversity.
In discussing additional steps local governments might take, Deloitte summarizes the experience of public officials in Boston. In 2016, the city set contracting targets for minority- and women-owned businesses. Boston streamlined contracting processes for more transparency and provided more assistance to small businesses, which are often minority- and women-owned.
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Seeing Diversity in Action Across the Nation
Updating policies and laws will produce more equitable outcomes in contracting and diversity in the vendor community. The Philadelphia Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion succinctly framed the matter on its website, emphasizing that contracting may support diverse neighborhoods and an inclusive city: “An equitable Philadelphia is one where all thrive. It requires city government’s policies, services and distribution of resources to account for the distinct histories, challenges and needs of different communities it serves.”