Blog Assignment #3

Identify, describe, and evaluate one example of a government organization (domestic or international) that has utilized a racial equity assessment tool (to measure the equity of policy implementation). You should not select an organizational initiative presented in the course literature.

Minneapolis_Skyline_by_SREphoto

The city of Minneapolis leaped into action after a reported issued by the Economic Policy Institute in 2010 showed unsettling facts on racial disparity in the city.   The report showed Minneapolis leading in the nation for having the worst employment disparity between whites and blacks.   As a result, the city created the Employment Equity Division (formally known as One Minneapolis) and with the help of The Advocates for Human Rights and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, held a conference in 2011 called One Minneapolis: A Call to Action! to discuss racial disparities in employment, housing, education, crime and justice, and small business entrepreneurship.

During the conference experts from government, business, and non-profit went over the startling racial statics Minneapolis must address.  In Minneapolis, you are three times more likely to be unemployed, or in poverty if you are Black ( Phifer, 2011).    White students are twice as likely to graduate on time compared to students of color—67% of Black students do no graduate on time (Phifer, 2011).   Blacks with a Bachelor’s degree were still twice as likely to be unemployed than whites (Phifer, 2011). Racial disparities in the Minneapolis justice system are more than twice the national average—Minneapolis has the 12th highest Black to white prison rate in the nation (Phifer, 2011).  Low level offences by minority juveniles are report to the County attorney’s office at alarming rates (Phifer, 2011)..   Minneapolis has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world (Phifer, 2011).

The conference ended with a call to action.  Over 200 civil and human rights professionals, advocacy organizations, community leaders, elected officials, law firms, corporations, educators, students, non-profits, and local organizations have committed to assisting in the closing of the gap (Phifer, 2011).

In 2012, the Department of Civil Rights appointed Karen Francois to the Director of Employment Equity.  In the same year the city approved a resolution called 2012R-456:  Supporting Equity in Employment in Minneapolis and the Region.  According to the City of Minneapolis’s website, the resolution directed the City to:

  • Develop and implement an Equity Assessment Toolkit to inform City budget, policy and program decisions, including the annual City budget, hiring retention, employee training, promotion, contracting and purchasing.
  • Assess  and implement, where appropriate, the recommendations of the Equity in Employment task force.
  • Recommend fair hiring provisions to be added to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances.
  • Provide a report on the development of the Equity Assessment Toolkit and implementation of task force recommendations to the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health committee on or before October 24, 2012.

Since 2012, several studies and analyzes have been done to better understand the different disparities, and the severity of the disparities,  in Minneapolis.  The City itself has focused a great deal of effort on leading by example by incorporating racial equity into all City policies and practices and demonstrating how institutions can openly, responsibility, and effectively address the issue with commitment and concrete action.  Part of the resolution directs staff to “develop and implement an Equity Assessment Toolkit to inform City budget, policy, and program decisions, including the annual City budget, hiring, retention, employee training, promotion, contraction and purchasing and: recommended fair hiring provisions to be added to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances” (Results Minneapolis, 2013).

Below are  just a FEW of the results found in the City in 2012:

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I commend  Minneapolis for springing into action when faced with ugly racial disparity statics.  I am impressed with their willingness to collaborate with several different organizations, experts, and individual from the community in order to meet  a common goal.   The cynic in me wonders how these issues could have gotten so bad and not been addressed sooner, but I am happy they are choosing to deal with the problem rather than sweep it under the rug.  However,  I cannot find much on the City’s “toolkit”  or specific actions taken to eliminate racial disparities anywhere other than employment within the City.    Their approach to that specific  issue (employment disparities within the City) seems to be strong and their committee to it seems to be sincere, but still a little vague.  Below is all I could really find on the Racial Equity Toolkit.  I could not find anything literature actually explaining the illustration below.

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Perhaps the City is still in the”researching phase”  of this enormous task.  Minneapolis is a large city metropolitan city with many moving parts. Furthermore, when so many different organizations and individuals are involved the process tends to move slower and more deliberately.  Just ask City Council President Barb Johnson.   In May, Johnson expressed her frustrations and anger at the time employees at Minneapolish City Hall are spending on the complex plan to close racial disparities while rampant gunshots and other problems afflict her North Side ward.

Barb Johnson of Minneapolis.  Courtesy of Google Images.

Barb Johnson of Minneapolis. Courtesy of Google Images.

“What’s our priority in this city?”  she demanded at a Committee of the Whole meeting.  ”  I am frustrated about this.  I see it as another task forced, another report, another reporting mechanism.  I’ve got all the reporting mechanisms I need…I’m really angry.  I want an estimate of staff time, I want to know from each of these people how much time are you spending on these multiple, multiple initiatives that we’re using to produce more reports.  That’s what I want, accountability.”

 

So, now what Minneapolis?

 

 

 

References

Phifer, I. (2011, December 20). One Minneapolis: A call to action
. . Retrieved July 17, 2014, from http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/12/20/one-minneapolis-call-action

Results Minneapolis: Eliminating Racial Employment Disparities ( 2013, March 19).  Retrieved July 17, 2014, from http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@civilrights/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-109922.pdf

StarTribune.  Mpls counsil president frustrated, angry at focus on racial equity plan. (2014, May 7) Retrieved July 17, 2014, from http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/258396781.html.