Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department works to shape a city that is a great place to live, work, learn, and play where everyone can thrive without limitations imposed because of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity, marital or familial status, immigration status, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, disability, nor any other individual identity. We serve City Management, City Departments, elected officials, and residents with the goal of advancing equity and inclusion and dismantle systemic inequities. We are committed to collaborating with community partners to facilitate a coordinated and innovative approach to this work. We look forward to working with you! Also, you can view the Diversity Awareness Calendar here.
Our mission is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all internal functions of the City and throughout the community.
Diversity is expressed in many forms and includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing different characteristics like race and ethnicity, gender identity, age, socio-economic status, religion, political affiliation, physical and mental ability, personality, work-life issues, learning styles, etc.
Equity is the just and fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people across all systems (economic, healthcare, housing, education, workforce, environment, social and community). Equity is distinct from equality and fairness. Equitable environments address disparities and strive to eliminate unique and systemic barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups. Such environments are free from discrimination, harassment and bias.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, heard, and valued to fully participate.
Our actions are guided by 6 guiding principles.
Diversity is strength. Building a diverse workforce means that we will have diverse perspectives, skills, talents, creativity, and experiences represented which will help increase the quality of our decisions and actions.
Be intentional. We acknowledge that without an intentional focus on DEI, we will continue to perpetuate and deepen inequality.
Normalize Conversations. We understand that in order to advance our efforts we must have courageous conversations around biases, systemic racism, discrimination, injustices, and other sensitive topics. Normalizing conversations is especially important for providing space for staff to begin to process and question their own biases and to examine how biases impacts their daily lives and work. We commit to normalizing conversations, offering a clear opportunity to be introspective and listen to the challenges of marginalized individuals and groups.
Collaborate with the community. When we listen to, and work alongside community partners, we will achieve greater success to make lasting change possible. The greatest impacts come from collective efforts to understand the issues, map out strategies, and take action. This approach also allows us to use our collective energy and resources to effect change.
Be transparent and accountable. We are accountable to our community of dedicated neighbors (Great People) and will strive to provide a clear picture of what actions steps we’ve taken thus far and communicate planned action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and within the community.
Change is ongoing. There is no quick answer for how to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a process without a fixed end point. Developing policies that place equity as a standard business practice takes a dedication for action by leadership, resources, and a commitment to learn.
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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Action Plan
This Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Action Plan represents our organizations roadmap to guide our city work towards building a better, more inclusive future for Gastonia. This pivotal plan includes specific goals, measurable objectives, and actionable strategies that will help us create a more equitable and inclusive community. By the end of this 5 year commitment, our aim is not only to have met these goals but to also have fundamentally shifted the culture and operations of our city in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In addition to outlining the key goals and measurable objectives, we also emphasize our commitment to transparency and accountability, with the creation of a DEI dashboard, regular reporting, and continuous dialogue with employees and community members.
Our Title VI Plan
The City has now created a Title VI Plan to implement its anti-discrimination policy. This plan establishes procedures for reporting violations and provides guidelines for the City, City Departments, private persons and companies doing business with the City and receiving federal financial assistance to follow. Adoption of this plan will ensure that The City of Gastonia is in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plan is available in English and Spanish.