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Equity Assessment Tool finds strengths, weaknesses

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 by Katy McElroy

The city’s Equity Office, in partnership with the Center for Place-Based Initiatives at the Dell Medical School, has released its first report created from utilizing its new Equity Assessment Tool. Programs and services within eight city departments were analyzed and categorized in areas of Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. Hiring and recruitment practices came out as a key strength. Data collection was the weakest area. A memo from Equity Officer Brion Oaks to the mayor and City Council explained this finding: “Weaknesses in data collection pointed to the lack of a process to collect, aggregate, or analyze client data, including demographic information and client surveys, for input in, or to measure the effectiveness of, its programs and services. Only a few departments had data regarding the race and ethnicity of their contractors and consultants. … Having disaggregated data by race and ethnicity is one of the essential first steps in advancing equity. Without segmented data to inform decision‐making, it is difficult for the City to assess the impact or lack of impact it is having on communities of color and other marginalized populations.” The departments that were analyzed as part of this first group were Economic Development, Austin Public Health, Austin Water, Human Resources, Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Transportation. The Equity Office is already using the tool on another set of departments, and it should have a report to share by the end of 2018. View the full pilot report here.

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