To Members re: Racial Equity and Inclusiveness

November 1, 2020
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 November 1, 2020 

Dear MEA Members: 

MEA’s Board and Staff support the City’s efforts to create a fully inclusive workplace. We have strength in diversity, and believe that City government should create an accessible and welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of their background, identity, or ethnicity. To better serve our community, we must better reflect it, especially in understanding the lived realities of people of color. 

San Francisco leads a national movement to address government’s role in resolving the inequitable outcomes society, and government itself, have created and perpetuated. To that end, the City has created an Office of Racial Equity (ORE), under the authority of the Human Rights Commission to address racial disparity in City government. ORE will “create a budget equity assessment tool for City departments to use in order to determine whether budget requests and annual allocations benefit or burden communities of color.” ORE will make funding recommendations that directly impact department budgets if racial equity metrics are not met. 

ORE’s goals and missions come from the top; Mayor Breed has publicly acknowledged that “[w]e know that in the past our City has enacted policies that disproportionately harm communities of color. With this new Office of Racial Equity, we will work to right those past wrongs and ensure that our City’s policies going forward are equitable and just.” 

Many of you already participate on the Mayor’s task force and related planning and focus groups that were set up to implement this legislation. This is a great opportunity to help improve city government and find creative solutions for the challenges you will face. Managers are often criticized for their actions, particularly in the areas of hiring, promotions and disciplinary actions. There can be a tendency among some to blame the amorphous “City” for problems. And too often, blame is put on managers because we stand at the top of the org chart. 

There is undoubtedly unfairness in this view of the City’s managers. However, the reality is that Black employees in the City appear to be subject to disparate treatment—for example, they are subjected to higher numbers of disciplinary actions and a low number are being promoted to supervisory or managerial positions. The figures presented to the SF Board of Supervisors Government Audit & Oversight Committee by City Departments on October 15th support this reality. 

ORE is asking for your insight and input on Phase I of the Departmental Racial Equity Action Plans, which address seven (7) Citywide Equity Focus Areas. These areas were developed from feedback and discussions with racial equity leaders, HR professionals, employee groups, labor partners, etc., and include the following: Testing, Minimum Qualifications, De-Identification Policy, Mediation Program, Discipline, Outreach and Recruitment, and TEX Appointments. 

It is essential for MEA to receive your insight and input to this important endeavor of looking at solutions to the current racism issues pertaining to the above-mentioned 7 focus areas. The survey 

form is attached and we ask that you email your responses to staff@sfmea.com on or before close of business, Monday, November 9, 2020

In order to help you through the processes being developed which is expected to be completed by December 31, 2020, MEA has reached out to ORE about resources to assist you in your operations. MEA also intends to offer workshops covering racial equity topics, inclusion and diversity and best practices. 

As Winston Churchill said in 1948, paraphrasing George Santayana’s quote, “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” We are all called to action at this time - to address the major unfinished business of this nation - especially as public servants of the City in which we live and work. We are all in this together and MEA appreciates you and all you do! 

The MEA Board of Directors 

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