Diversity is expressed in a myriad of forms and includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make an individual or group different from another (race and ethnicity, gender identity, age, socio-economic status, religion, political affiliation, physical and mental ability, personality, work-life issues, learning styles, etc.).
Equity is the just and fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people across all systems (economic, healthcare, housing, education, workforce, environment, social and community). Equity is distinct from equality and fairness. Equitable environments address disparities and strive to eliminate unique and systemic barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups. Such environments are free from discrimination, harassment and bias.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, heard, and valued to fully participate.
Our actions are guided by six guiding principles.
Diversity is strength. Building a diverse workforce means that we will have diverse perspectives, skills, talents, creativity, and experiences represented which will help increase the quality of our decisions and actions.
Be intentional. We acknowledge that without an intentional focus on DEI, we will continue to perpetuate and deepen inequality.
Normalize Conversations. We understand that in order to advance our efforts we must have courageous conversations around biases, systemic racism, discrimination, injustices, and other sensitive topics. Normalizing conversations is especially important for providing space for staff to begin to process and question their own biases and to examine how biases impacts their daily lives and work. We commit to normalizing conversations, offering a clear opportunity to be introspective and listen to the challenges of marginalized individuals and groups.
Collaborate with the community. When we listen to, and work alongside community partners, we will achieve greater success to make lasting change possible. The greatest impacts come from collective efforts to understand the issues, map out strategies, and take action. This approach also allows us to use our collective energy and resources to effect change.
Be transparent and accountable. We are accountable to our community of dedicated neighbors (Great People) and will strive to provide a clear picture of what actions steps we’ve taken thus far and communicate planned action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and within the community.
Change is ongoing. There is no quick answer for how to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a process without a fixed end point. Developing policies that place equity as a standard business practice takes a dedication for action by leadership, resources, and a commitment to learn.
On February 4, 2020 this Council enacted the City’s Title VI Policy. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no person shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The 1987 Civil Rights Restoration Act extended these protections to all NCDOT programs and activities, whether federally-assisted or state-funded. Additional categories of protection have been enacted including sex, sexual orientation, low-income, limited English proficiency, age, disability, and religion/creed.
The City has now created a Title VI Plan to implement its Policy. This plan establishes procedures for reporting violations and provides guidelines for the City, City Departments, private persons and companies doing business with the City and receiving federal financial assistance to follow. Adoption of this plan will ensure that Gastonia is in compliance with the Civil Rights provisions. A complete copy of the City's TItle VI Plan can be viewed online in English and Spanish.