Internal Scan: Racial Equity and Inclusion Competency Survey Results 2021

Internal Scan: Racial Equity and Inclusion Competency Survey Results 2021

rei survey1

On June 15, 2021 Living Cities administered our fifth annual Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) competency survey to all staff to reflect on their individual competency related to understanding and advancing racial equity. The survey was originally designed by Hafizah Omar, with feedback and input from Nadia Owusu and Ratna Gill. The questions from this survey were adapted from GARE’s Employee Survey for Local Governments, D5 Initiative’s Field Survey, and additional best practices from the field. This was the fourth year that we collected demographic data. In the last three years we also included questions that speak to Living Cities’ racial equity competency framework and risk-taking. 

Twenty two of the 29 staff eligible staff responded to the survey, a response rate of 76%. This is the first year we have not received 100% completion on our survey. Staff who had been here less than three months as of June 15 did not take the survey. The survey results represent findings from 62% of current staff.

The survey results were analyzed by the CORE team: Joanna Carrasco, Thiara Falcon, Hafizah Omar, Carla Reed, Chipo Sachirarwe, and Alyssa Smaldino. We had the following overarching takeaways:

  • Compared to past years, staff continue to grow their competency to identify examples of institutional, interpersonal and structural racism, but increasingly disagree when asked if they have the tools to address these forms of racism in the workplace. 
  • Conflict transformation and accountability continue to be points of tension that staff seek tools and resources to address. This indicates a need to reassess strategy and practice around pathways for employees to provide feedback across the organization.
  • Despite some actions taken by leadership in the past year, there is a sharp decline in staff feeling like there’s a commitment to racial equity and inclusion at the leadership level.

Historically, this survey has been used to assess our staff’s competency in their REI skills and analysis so we can understand the support needed to continue deepening our collective competency around REI. This strategy is rooted in the person-role-system framework which grounds all of our work in the belief that if we change ourselves at the personal level and deepen our abilities to understand what factors produce systemic inequity, we can in turn make more equitable decisions in our roles and toward our results.

Additional Note on FY21 (July 2020 – June 2021): 

Living Cities experienced a lot of transition in FY21, which is notable due to its impact on organizational culture. We announced the transition of our former CEO and President, Ben Hecht, after 14 years of leadership, and welcomed Joe Scantlebury’s leadership to the organization on September 7, 2021. In addition, the organization has seen turnover of 24.3% in FY21 alone, which resulted in increased work and decreased capacity for many staff members and project teams, including our leadership team. Several staff members who transitioned were also part of our leadership team which we call the Resources and Results (R&R) team. 

We’ve also welcomed and onboarded 14 new staff members to the organization in FY21. Thus, 38% of our current staff’s perspective is not represented in the survey, which is only open to staff who have been employed at Living Cities for at least three months. 

The survey remained open for three months this year, which is longer than we’ve historically given staff to complete the survey. During this three month time period, we had a couple staff transition out of the organization, so it’s possible that some responses may be from staff members who are no longer employed at Living Cities. 

In the midst of these transitions, we are also still understanding what shifts are necessary to meet staff needs during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

Featured Image Credit: @mosaiceye instagram

Below is a graphic that illustrates some of our high-level findings:


More Resources

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America Book by: Living Cities and Aminah Pilgrim Purchase today:  In collaboration with historian Aminah Pilgram, PhD, we break down concepts of systemic racism, starting with Columbus’ arrival in 1492 to the Black Lives Matter movement. This book offers historical overviews, infographics, and more to help you …

Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund 2021 Annual Report

This report summarizes Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund’s (BCF) activities during its sixth year of operations, from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021 (FY21). During this fiscal year, the BCF Team fully committed the Fund as of March 31, 2021 reaching 26 investments totaling $33.5MM. The latter half of the BCF investments have been aligned with the iterated investment …

Answering the Call: Implementing the Promise of Equity in Procurement

The second City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement invited ten cities–Boston, Cleveland, El Paso, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and South Bend–to leverage their spending power and procurement systems to create greater and more equitable economic opportunity for Black and Brown-owned businesses. Throughout a year that included a global pandemic and racial justice uprisings in response to the …

Closing the Gaps Network Year 1 Feedback Survey

The Closing the Gaps (CTG) Network is a ten-year initiative that brings together leaders from cities across the country who are committed to imagining what an anti-racist society might look like, and to playing an important role in building it through the transformation of government policies, practices, and operations. Within the network, six cities are engaged more deeply through a …

Get Updates

We want to stay in touch with you! Sign up for our email list to receive updates on the progress we’re making with our network of partners, as well as helpful resources and blog posts.