Public Management Bulletin #27

From Starting to Sustaining: What Actions are Local Governments in North Carolina Taking to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Many local governments are recognizing the importance of building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces and communities. Municipal and county administrators and elected officials are increasingly interested in learning about the steps they can take and the steps other local governments are taking. In response, the coauthors conducted a study to understand how North Carolina local governments were embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles and practices in their organizations.

Twenty-three actions commonly implemented by governments working to advance DEI were identified. A survey was sent to 543 North Carolina county and municipal managers and administrators in July and August 2021 to ask which of the twenty-three actions they had implemented or were planning to implement in the next fiscal year. Forty-nine jurisdictions responded to the survey for a 9 percent response rate. Follow-up interviews were conducted with representatives of the three municipalities that reported taking more than half of the actions on the survey.

The survey findings show that local governments of various sizes and in different areas of the state were implementing and planning to implement a range of actions to advance DEI. The most frequently reported current actions focused on establishing organizational infrastructure: instituting DEI-related training for staff, evaluating human resources policies related to DEI, creating an internal DEI-related task force made up of staff, and establishing department-specific DEI initiatives.

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