On August 1st, London’s Community Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2017 was released. London City Council's 2015-2019 Strategic Plan identified the need to develop a Community Diversity & Inclusion Strategy (CDIS) as a way to "build a diverse, inclusive and welcoming community" by "supporting all Londoners to feel engaged and involved in our community."
A call was put out in November 2016 for Diversity and Inclusion Champions to volunteer to work together to co-develop the Community Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which includes three key things:
- A Vision: Meant to inspire and give direction.
- A Statement of Commitment: An affirmation or pledge. A statement everyone can believe in and stand together to change.
- Strategies: Specific strategies to advance inclusion and diversity in London and address barriers faced by specific groups.
London’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2017: My Thoughts and Hopes.
By Dharshi Lacey
Pillar Nonprofit Network's Director, Diversity & Governance
I read the document a few times and then I re-read it but in a different sequence. This made all the difference to me. This time, I started with the “what we heard” section, pages 18-28. The list of communities and groups heard from are: Indigenous, First Nations, Metis and Inuit, Accessibility, Ageism and Intergenerational Relations, Anti-Black Racism, Faith-based discrimination and Islamaphobia, Gender, Immigrants and Newcomers, Income Inequality, LGBT2QI+ and Racism. This was all done in 3 months and 3 community meetings. As I read back this list, I’m amazed at how much the Steering Committee took on in such a short period of time for the hopeful benefit of so many who have been marginalized in many ways for so long.
I congratulate the Community Diversity and Inclusion (CDIS) Steering Committee. This was a lot to get done in such a short period of time, in a way that recognized and respected all groups and communities. I think for the most part you did that. I would, however, have much preferred that you had been given a longer mandate.
Page 9 was next for me, the Vision statement. As someone who participated in those 3 meetings, I’m pleased that some of the brave conversations we had on this topic did not get diluted to be “palatable”. The Vision statement has positive language but also the courage to commit to eliminate systemic oppressions. Yes, it exists in our community and needs to be addressed.
Onto page 11; the 5 priorities:
- Take concrete steps towards healing and reconciliation
- Have zero tolerance for oppression, discrimination and ignorance
- Connect and engage Londoners
- Remove accessibility barriers to services, information and spaces
- Remove barriers to employment.
The words in italics are mine. These priorities indicate strong statements for action, and the strategies are many, ranging from 6 to 14 for each priority area. As I read the specific strategies I tried to keep the “what we heard” context in mind. Are these strategies reflective of what was heard? Mostly, yes.
While I’m guilty of having used them often myself, I do twitch a little at statements like “increased awareness”, and supporting the development of…”. Surely we have been doing that for the last 20 years? I did like phrasing such as “conducting regular safety audits” and “establishing an implementation and accountability plan”. These seem to be more progressive and definitely measurable in implementation.
Finally let’s move to the statement of commitment on page 10, particularly what the City of London is asked to commit to:
- Mandating equity and exemplifying our vision of London as a diverse and inclusive community
- Learning and Honouring the unique histories and lived experiences of all people in our community
- Removing systemic barriers to accessibility as experienced by our community by listening and responding to the voices of those who are marginalized.
Again, the italics are mine. The commitment statements are strong; they need now to become operationalized with authenticity.
On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, London’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2017 was presented to the Community Protective Services Committee (CPSC) at City Hall. The presentation acknowledged that this is an aspirational document, however two key action items that the CDIS committee requested of Council gave me hope:
“That the Community Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee BE REQUESTED to report back to the Community and Protective Services Committee on a proposed structure to support implementation;”
“That Civic Administration BE DIRECTED to report back to the Community and Protective Services Committee regarding strategies in the CDIS which refer to or could affect the Corporation of the City of London”
The CPSC committee unanimously approved the receipt of the document and the proposed recommendations.
Will we actually see some real change? Diversity and Inclusion strategies need leadership and how much further can we look in our community than City Hall? A diversity and inclusion strategy was in the City’s strategic plan, now we need to implement.
Read the full report HERE.