The City of San Antonio’s Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO) was launched in 2015 to foster an inclusive culture across the organization, ensure City processes have equitable outcomes, and be a safe place for community members to report discrimination. Four annual goals currently drive DIO’s work:
- Establish a shared understanding across the City organization of the meaning and significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Promote equity in City processes;
- Strengthen community awareness and involvement in the office;
- Improve services for community members submitting discrimination complaints.
DIO is a standalone office of two full-time City employees and reports to an Assistant City Manager. The office will be rebranded as the Equity and Inclusion Office in October 2017.
In March 2017, the City launched a Racial Equity Initiative in partnership with GARE. The initiative is working closely with 6 City departments to pilot a racial equity tool in specific programs/processes, develop action plans to scale racial equity across each department, and ultimately create a citywide strategy and goal. The participating departments currently include the Department of Human Resources, Department of Human Services, Government and Public Affairs, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, San Antonio Public Library, and the Solid Waste Management Department. At the conclusion of the contract, GARE will deliver recommendations to DIO for continuing support of the initial six departments and operationalizing equity across the City organization. The recommendations will inform DIO’s 2018-2020 strategic plan.
DIO has been most effective in making racial equity relevant to City employees by offering concrete examples of how other jurisdictions—and more specifically their counterparts by department—have improved their ability to deliver quality services to the public by normalizing, operationalizing and organizing for racial equity. DIO is eager to cull these success stories from peer member organizations.
Kiran Bains is the City of San Antonio’s first Chief Equity Officer. Through training, leadership development and community engagement, Kiran fosters an inclusive culture across the City organization and promotes equity in City processes. Prior to joining local government, Kiran worked in international community development and peacebuilding in South Asia and East Africa. A first generation college graduate, Kiran is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. She teaches a course on equity and inclusion at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Kiran completed her BA in international relations from St. Mary’s University and her MA in peace studies from the University of Notre Dame.