The Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to establish a Division of Race and Equity with the aim of helping city departments set goals to reduce and eliminate racial inequity in city government.
The division will be staffed by existing employees of the City Coordinator's Office.
"We are formalizing work that has now been happening and building in this city for some time around race and equity," said council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden. "The ordinance I think helps us sharpen that focus, creates permanency to the work, which must be long-term work, and also includes some critical accountability measures."
Moving from rhetoric to results is crucial, Glidden said.
The city hired two equity and inclusion managers for the city coordinator's office in 2015, but racial income and housing disparities in the Twin Cities metro area have been persistent, and the issue was one that defined the Minneapolis election campaign in 2017.
"I moved racial equity to the center of the City's work, and over four years, we have altered the DNA of every city department," Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement. "I am pleased that the creation of the Division of Race and Equity continues this legacy."
The city already has a Civil Rights Equity Division focused on increasing the diversity of participants in programs the city runs in partnership with outside organizations. The new division will give elected officials policy direction on race and equity in city government, and will give the City Council annual reports on its progress.
"They look like small things — it's kind of government bureaucratic things, creating divisions and shuffling things around," Council Member Cam Gordon said. "But quite honestly, these are the little steps that we take that I think yield the big results in the end if we stay on them and keep pushing."