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Diversity and inclusion at heart of New Westminster’s new equity framework

New Westminster has adopted a new framework to measure its commitment to the city’s diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism efforts.
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New Westminster has adopted a new framework to measure its commitment to the city’s diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism efforts.

New Westminster has adopted a new framework to measure its commitment to the city’s diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism efforts.

While the diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism (DIEAR) framework that’s currently being developed will include key performance indicators, those won’t be in place until after 2022. In the meantime, council has endorsed a 2021to 2022 “equity key performance indicator framework” that seeks to measure the city’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism work throughout the civic organization.

Coun. Nadine Nakagawa supports the DIEAR strategy that’s underway, but is pleased that the city isn’t waiting until that work is done before addressing these issues.

“There’s a lot of depth about the different ways that the city needs to be doing the work on equity, inclusivity and anti-racism,” she said. “It is preliminary work, but it still has a decent depth to the considerations in it. I really appreciate this has come forward in the interim while we are working on the larger strategy.”

Now that the framework has been endorsed by council, staff will begin working to ensure the city’s workplans and budgets align with the city’s commitment to developing equity.

A report to council states the city will measure its performance in three key equity areas: community representation – reflecting the composition of the community; policies and procedures – developing and implementing policies and procedures that provide fair treatment; and service delivery and programs –  developing and offering programs and services that reflect the diversity and needs of the community.

Coun. Chinu Das said the framework works alongside many of the city’s other priorities and incorporates a lot of the city’s core values.

“This couldn’t be a more important document to have.  No matter how preliminary it is, I think that this is the path we have to go. It actually will allow us to track the good work that we are doing in this area,” she said. “There is actually lots been done already, and it makes us more accountable for the work we are doing. I am so impressed with the direction it’s taking.”

According to the staff report, the city’s recruitment goal is to support an organization that reflects the community diversity. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, racialized individuals, people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, persons with disabilities, people from different socio-economic experiences, tenants and others who may contribute to the city’s diversity.

The framework includes a number of proposed indicators for key equity areas. These include:

*Developing equity by creating community representation in all city recruitments. This would apply to employment in all civic departments; recruitment for civic boards and advisory committees; and recruitment practices related to public engagement.

*Developing equity by changing city policies and procedures. This will apply to a variety of areas including: the city’s procurement practices; the city’s advocacy, support and requirements for housing equity (such as protecting renters, providing affordable rental, addressing homelessness and providing housing choice); work to address the needs of the at-risk and vulnerable population during the pandemic; work to address the needs of seniors and parents with young children during the pandemic; and the city’s work to advance anti-racism and anti-discrimination indicators.

*Developing equity by changing the city’s service delivery and programs. This will include developing programs and services that reflect the diversity and needs of the community, and supporting local businesses and non-profits impacted by the pandemic.

Das said the framework is a “key step” in all the work being undertaken by the city, from housing to transportation.

 “We keep saying over and over again – apply the equity lens, but we didn’t really have the lens, but the lens is now available,” she said. “We have talked the talk, now we can walk the walk because we have a framework.”

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca