Progress on Equity and Inclusion Work Within the City Organization

October 4, 2021 1:21 PM
by Delana Gbenekama

Melinda from Lincoln Middle School created this beautiful work of art. Thank you Melinda for sharing with the Santa Monica community.

In November 2020, the Racial Equity Committee (Committee) began working on six citywide goals to advance equity and inclusion within the City of Santa Monica organization based on feedback from staff. The Committee comprises of Equity and Inclusion Officers from each city department and is led by the Equity and Communications Coordinator and the Special Assistant to the City Manager on Equity and Community Recovery. Committee members have examined City policies and practices as well as researched and reviewed best practices by organizations in both the private and public sector to inform their work. Here’s an update on the Committee's progress: 

  1. Equity Plan: Meaningful change takes time. To make sure we do things well, a team of staff is developing a multi-year equity plan outlining the city’s vision for achieving equity. The plan will include policy changes and resource needs and will be presented to the City Council later this year. 
  2. Equity Toolkit: To ensure that staff have a shared understanding of equity terminology and guidance on incorporating equity into their daily work, the Committee developed a glossary of equity terms and definitions as well as drafted a list of equity questions that staff should ask themselves before making decisions. The glossary and equity questions are anticipated to be complete this fall, and the Racial Equity Committee will train staff on how to use these tools. 
  3. Hiring Process: Because equity and inclusion are City values that inform our work, the Committee drafted a list of recommended standard diversity, equity and inclusion questions that will be included in all City job interviews. Additionally, a list of questions drafted by the Committee is being used for the City Manager, Police Chief, Assistant Director of Labor Relations, and Fire Chief recruitments. 
  4. Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency Training: Everyone comes to discussions about equity from different perspectives and levels of understanding based on their personal experiences. This committee is developing foundational implicit bias training and cultural competency curriculum for staff and is creating continuing education courses to deepen staff knowledge of these topics to ensure we are an inclusive organization with staff who are able to connect with and understand people who are different from them. 
  5. SaMo Mentoring Initiative: After hearing staff feedback about the need for professional development opportunities, the Committee drafted an informal mentoring program, the SaMo Mentoring Initiative, aimed at supporting retention and career advancement for staff of all backgrounds. The program will launch soon. 
  6. Performance Evaluations: To ensure we are providing staff with the tools they need to be inclusive of others, to evaluate inequities and address them, and that those in leadership roles are taking steps to make equity a foundational consideration in their programs, communications, and activities, the Committee is developing recommendations for diversity, equity and inclusion standards to include in employee performance evaluations. 

For ongoing updates about advancing equity, visit

Authored By

Delana Gbenekama
Equity and Communications Program Manager


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