By: Rebecca DeSantis, content and engagement coordinator, ICMA
Driving around the central California city of Hayward, California, affectionately named the "Heart of the Bay," you might see a green sign that makes quite a statement. This sign, reading "No Room for Racism," can be found attached to Hayward's welcome signs, as well as on bumper stickers and business windows. Residents have a daily reminder of their city's committment for an inclusive, equitable, and compassionate community.
The signs are not new for residents who have lived in the area for decades. In 1992, the city created the Anti-Discrimination Action Plan with the goal of reducing discrimination incidents and assisting victims. During this time, "No Room for Racism" signs were placed in the city, bumper stickers could be found on local vehicles, and demonstrations were held.
In January 2017, the grassroots initiative found new momentum when the Hayward City Council created a Community Task Force to address community concerns about immigration and human and civil rights that arose after the 2016 elections. The task force was charged with updating the action plan and developing new recommendations to address current social challenges. When the task force was created, the "No Room for Racism" signs went back up around the city and old bumper stickers resurfaced.
On November 28, 2017, the task force presented The Commitment for an Inclusive, Equitable, and Compassionate Community. According to the city's website, this commitment is "a re-imagining of the Anti-Discrimination Action Plan that provides a road map for proactively making Hayward a safe and welcoming place for people of different backgrounds and experiences."
Monica Davis, a management analyst in finance for Hayward during the past three years, shared the story of the signs for an assignment as part of Leadership ICMA, a professional development program for ICMA members. Davis is part of the Class of 2020. She explained that when the bumper stickers resurfaced, community members reenergized the movement and asked for more to be done. As a local government employee, Davis said she felt proud about the statement that the city was making. "I feel like I am working for an organization that values people."
When thinking about how other local governments can address concerns about racism and immigration, Davis presents two key recommendations:
- Provide a forum for discussion so community members have a space to make their voices heard and can talk about issues that are important to them. If residents demonstrate a passion for an issue, listening to what they have to say can help local government personnel make informed decisions moving forward.
- Find visible actions to take that can be done quickly to build on community momentum. "Quick wins" can be easy, actionable steps that make a big difference to residents, like putting up signs that make a statement.
ICMA is committed to the goal of inclusion becoming organic, including how programs are designd and executed, with a lens that can approach partnerships, opportunities, and challenges. By providing resources for local governments that are looking to establish inclusive practices, ICMA is helping ensure that local governments are inclusive and match the diversity of the communities they support. Here are some of the resources that ICMA provides around equity and inclusion:
ICMA's Approach to Equity and Inclusion. Read about how equity and inclusion are part of ICMA's strategy for the future.
Data on ICMA Women Members in the Profession. Measuring progress is a key component to ICMA's efforts, and this overview of data shows the number of women members in 2018.
Q&A: Evanston, Illinois, Turns to Town Hall Meetings to Build Equity and Equality. Evanston set about doing intentional, focused, and good work around the issues of equity and empowerment, and it committed to doing so in full conversation with the community. ICMA caught up with its city manager to learn more.
Is It Time to Hire a Chief Equity Officer? If you want to build trust in the community and provide access for all residents, it makes sense to invest in the position. Read this blog to learn more.