City of Gastonia’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative

You may be aware of the City’s Annual Strategic Plan that is adopted every year by City Council. It is basically a blueprint for how we operate our City and what goals we intend to meet in the future. In 2018, City management began working with City Council to develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative focused on fairness and inclusion for the entire community that we serve.

After many meetings and discussions, City management realized that a DEI initiative would be a major undertaking and would not necessarily be easy. They also realized that a dedicated staff person was needed to help frame our ideas and meet goals. With that in mind, the City has begun the process to hire a Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This person will work in the community and internally as we shape this initiative.

Communications and Marketing Director Mary Elliott talked with Deputy City Manager Todd Carpenter about the reasons for the City's DEI initiative, the goals for the program and what employees can expect.

Elliott: How did the City’s DEI initiative come about?  
Carpenter: City management began working with Council in 2018 to develop a DEI initiative focused on fairness and inclusiveness for the entire community that we serve. The strategy is to be built around a culture of understanding that embraces the differences, needs and struggles of individuals and groups so that the City can better serve our residents. We are conscientious about the fact that this will not be necessarily easy. We want to do this right and we want to be successful. This is not about numbers but about a cultural education and understanding that will result in more equality for all.

DEI   puzzle piecesElliott: What is the City’s goal for DEI?
Carpenter: The goal for this fiscal year is to hire a Coordinator of DEI and acclimate this person to the City’s organization, culture, policies and decision-making processes. The overall goal is to better serve our entire community. To do this we will need to get better at acknowledging the biases that exist within every one of us and how this can impact our jobs and decisions. We need to acknowledge that the more diverse our organization can become, the better we will be internally and the better we can serve our citizens.

Elliott: Why is it important for the City to have DEI goals?
Carpenter: Because the City of Gastonia exists to serve everyone. Regardless of a person’s age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, race, health, etc. we have a duty to serve all equally and inclusively.

Elliott: How will our employees benefit from DEI?
Carpenter: Our employees will benefit if we are successful in helping them to build literacy around our differences and recognize the need for us all to gain a better understanding of those outside of our homogeneous and immediate communities.

Elliott: What can employees expect as our goals are being implemented around DEI?
Carpenter: Employees can expect training, education, and opportunities to participate in diversity, equity and inclusion where they can be a champion for this program.

Elliott: How did the new Coordinator of DEI position come about?
Carpenter: It grew out of City management and Council gaining better insight into the complexities associated with our DEI initiative. The more training we received on DEI the more we understood our own limitations. To be successful we need someone with the right amount of training, education and experience to build around our strategies and implement the right program that will meet the City’s goals.

Elliott: How will this person work with the community?
Carpenter: I see this person working with the community through various organizations, community watches, neighborhood initiatives, town halls, etc. I see this person working for the community through our employees, management, departments, council committees and policy making. 

Elliott: How does a person apply for the job?
Carpenter: Anyone who is interested and qualified or knows someone who is can apply for the position through the City’s website

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Gastonia, N.C., just minutes west of Charlotte, is one of the area’s best places to live and work with an ideal combination of location, size and livability. Gastonia is the largest of Gaston County’s 13 municipalities and one of the largest cities in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Selected as an All-America City three times, Gastonia’s desirable quality of life is the result of its beautiful natural surroundings, friendly neighborhoods, responsive government and vibrant business environment.



  181 S. South Street
Gastonia NC 28052