Creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Role

Learn how municipalities have created and structured positions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Prepared By: Ben Williams and Greg Whitney  

Research Question: "Our organization is currently planning to add a position focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  That said, our communications and engagement work is still new and I am trying to identify other models that could be used to think about this.  Our community is 120,000 people – so not small, but also not large – so wanting to be mindful of how a role like a Community & Engagement Manager and this new role focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, might work together and specifically how that position might be best structured.  This includes how we work to bring about consistency across all of our departments in those two areas too.”

Executive Summary & Analysis (Key Points) 

1. Establish a Structure 

  • Each city created a division, department, or section focused on policy development and implementation initiatives 

  • One city had strategic management (open data) and diversity departments overseen by a single office and manager (Tempe

2. Create Partnerships for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

  • Nonprofit organizations, NGOs, and other community organizations already exist in many communities that are furthering the work of equity, typically among very specific groups. Connecting with these organizations allows cities to leverage, amplify, and build upon existing networks, experience, and programs  

  • Partnering with nationwide groups like GARE, NLC, MBK (Pittsburgh), and the Centre for Global Inclusion can support a city's mission, provide training and a framework, and connect you to other cities and resources to further equality (Pittsburgh

3. Engage with the Community 

  • Provide resources, tools, and trainings for city government and local businesses (South Bend, Minneapolis, Tempe

  • Hold community events for cultural awareness and inclusion (Tempe)  

  • Many cities are developing and promoting free and open resources, including financial literacy, coding, technical courses, scholarships, targeted contracts, and internship programs to increase technical skills and progress targeted communities/groups (Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Tempe

Research Findings 

City of Tempe, AZ (population 200k) 

The Strategic Management and Diversity Office is overseen by one manager, who oversees efforts of inclusion, equity, communication, diversity, and access. The office is split into two sections:  

  • Strategic Management 

  • The Strategic Management section contains the City’s Strategic Plan, which includes the Open Data Portal (Stats and Data), Open Performance Measurements Portal (Operations), and Open Books Portal (Budget). 

  • Diversity 

  • The Diversity section encompasses inclusive policies, practices, programs, and events. This department brings together People, Planning, and Performance for a balanced approach to city decisions. 

  • Having the two sections in one office allows the diversity and equity team to see statistical information, available funding, and existing structures within the organization. This information is then used to either create or help implement policies and initiatives using available resources, and allows for data collection from the community on the impacts and successes of said policies and initiatives. 


City of Sacramento, CA (population 500k) 

The Office of Diversity and Equity 

Mission statement: "To move forward with urgency and purpose the creation, implementation, and maintenance of a more equitable and inclusive City of Sacramento by facilitating the integration of greater representation, fairness, belonging, and care into our policies, protocols, practices, and work places". 

The office is under the Divisions and Programs area of the organization, which contains other offices that work directly with the community. The Diversity and Equity Office has three main priorities: 

  1. Complete the Local and Regional Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) Cohort 

  • "...staff leaders from the City of Sacramento will learn how to apply  GARE’s Racial Equity Toolkit that embeds results-based measures in decision making within local governments..." 

  1. Develop a Race & Gender Equity Action Plan (working directly with the Human resources department) 

  • Identifies specific actions that integrate diversity and inclusion into policies, procedures, and practices 

  • In addition, advance racial and gender equity through ongoing efforts that: 

  • Honor mutual respect and shared dignity in learning, critical reflection, innovation, curiosity, and courageous conversations 

  • Support all stakeholders in developing equity-minded interventions designed to close opportunity and equity gaps 

  • Eliminate organization and administrative barriers to equitable opportunity as much as possible 

  1. Pilot an Equity & Inclusion Leadership Series 

  • Priority is especially focused on diversity an equity within the organization 


City of Bellevue, WA (population 150k) 

The City of Bellevue has a Diversity Advantage Initiative that is led by a single administrator who works with a team, that both oversees the initiative and works to implement diversity and equity policies and initiatives. Work and findings from the Initiative are used to guide and shape city policies. 

The Initiative has five guiding principles: 

  • Access: Build an environment that values the abilities of all by proactively removing barriers and providing accommodations for full participation. 

  • Equity: Create a fair and just community where equality is the outcome, by recognizing and correcting historic and systemic inequity. 

  • Inclusion: Foster a welcoming city by providing a safe and gracious space where the entire community can engage in civic life. 

  • Opportunity: Share prosperity by connecting residents, schools, businesses, faith, and nonprofits to work together for the common good. 

  • Understanding Cultural Competency: Produce equitable policies and practices, by developing skills and knowledge that facilitate effective interactions across diverse cultures. 


City of South Bend, IN (population 100k) 

The head of the Diversity and Inclusion office works with the city, community, and businesses to help further the goals of the office and city. The main objective of the office: 

  • We provide access to tools and resources that foster inclusive workplaces, workforces, communities, and city procurement opportunities. We deliver inclusive policy infrastructure, and public-private program partnerships that expand access to talent pools, enforce fair and equitable employment, housing, public accommodations, education practices, and assist in fostering vibrant and inclusive city economies. 

The office works both within the city, with the community at large, and with businesses both within and outside the community. 


City of Pittsburgh, PA (population 300k) 

Established the Office of Equity in 2019 


  • Seeks to normalize social and racial equity within city government and our communities 

  • Works closely with community partners, government agencies, experts, and communities  

  • Works to inform and implement equitable policies, programs, procedures, and expenditures to make Pittsburgh a community for all 

Chief Equity Officer leads the focus on the opportunity for all residents of the City of Pittsburgh concerning education, workforce development, safe & healthy communities, and digital inclusion. Also leads the administration’s engagement with national organizations regarding equity and inclusion strategies. (source includes a list of 5 detailed goals to advance equity in Pittsburgh. - includes a list of 28 actions the city took to begin advancing equity among focused populations and communities. 


City of Minneapolis, MN (population 425k) 

Civil Rights Equity Division 

Strategic and Racial Equity Action Plan

  • A four year plan that, “…embeds racial equity principles into all aspects of the City’s work and defines goals that can be objectively measured and inform resource decisions” (Source). 

  • Policy priorities include: 

  • “Reducing involuntary displacement in rental housing for black, indigenous and people of color communities”. 

  • “Increasing the number of Minneapolis-based businesses owned by black, indigenous and people of color; and increase businesses with black, indigenous, and people of color ownership that are still in business after five years”. 

  • “Increasing the number of black, indigenous, and people of color ages 10 to 24 years living in higher violence areas of Minneapolis who participate in high-quality youth programs”. 

  • To develop the plan there was an in-depth process involving the Mayor, City Council, Department Heads, Staff, and members of the City’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee 

  • Through strategic planning retreats and community engagement a plan was developed 



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