In late September, 2016, the City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) launched its Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) during training sessions co-hosted by Nora Liu from the Center for Social Inclusion and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.
Eighty-five staff representing twenty City bureaus and a City Commissioner’s office attended the trainings to learn about the RET—a resource developed through collaboration between OEHR and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, with review and contributions from seven City bureaus.
The RET is designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in the City’s decision making, including policies, practices, and programs by:
- Ensuring that government actions and decisions are crafted to achieve truly equitable outcomes
- Engaging communities of color in decision-making, understand the root causes of existing disparities and how the City’s actions can make these better (or worse)
- Using data to identify current racial disparities and those most impacted by our actions
- Identifying inequitable consequences or burdens on communities of color most impacted
- Identifying needed strategies and resources to ensure equity in our actions and decision making
- Identifying how progress on racial equity will be tracked and measured over time, and how to report back to staff and the community
OEHR has been charged with leading and coordinating efforts in partnership with all bureaus to achieve racial equity through the intentional examination of policies and practices that even with the appearance of fairness, may marginalize individuals or groups and perpetuate disparities. In a historic move, City Council unanimously voted to adopt OEHR’s City-wide Racial Equity Goals and Strategies as binding City policy in July, 2015. The goals and strategies serve as a foundation for each bureau’s Five-Year Racial Equity Plan and hold the City accountable to its obligations and its vision of racial equity. The RET will support bureaus as they implement the commitments to institutional change to achieve racial equity included in their plans.