Creating a Racial Equity Agenda for the United States Conference of Mayors
The United States Conference of Mayors developed a comprehensive understanding of the programs, policies, and projects that are effectively advancing racial equity across the country.
Across the country, discriminatory policies and practices have created lasting disparities in social and economic outcomes across races. To work against this harmful legacy, the United States Conference of Mayors, with its strong tradition of leadership on issues of civil rights and social justice, is using its national platform to help mayors and cities understand and implement the policies and practices that can reduce racial inequities in cities.
The organization engaged HR&A to survey existing racial equity programs in cities and create a set of recommendations for how it could help member cities proactively make meaningful change in their policies and practices.
To understand their most pressing challenges, we interviewed mayors and staff from 13 cities. The collective feedback showed that some cities are incorporating racial equity through place-based initiatives, programmatic initiatives, and policy change. Additionally, cities are seeking help from external partners to directly address race in their communities. We learned the importance of mayoral leadership and that clear definitions of equity are needed to translate commitments into practice. Synthesizing our findings, we outlined the ways that the U.S. Conference of Mayors could serve as an important convener for mayors and a source of best practice and technical assistance.
Our deepest insight emerged from our conversations with economic development departments. Unlike many social services, these functions are siloed from conversations on racial disparity even though they are charged with decisions that impact the physical, demographic, and economic realities of communities. This insight helped us design a program that would connect these departments with training, resources, and technical assistance to embed equity into daily practice.