In July 2020, SCAG’s Regional Council adopted Resolution 20‐623‐2, affirming its commitment to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout Southern California. The resolution called for the formation of an ad hoc Special Committee on Equity & Social Justice to further develop SCAG’s response to advancing equity. The Committee met on a quarterly basis starting in September 2020 and concluding in March 2021, culminating in the development of an early action plan.
On May 6, 2021, SCAG’s Regional Council adopted The Racial Equity Early Action Plan, which will guide and sustain SCAG’s regional leadership in service of equity and social justice over the years to come. The Early Action Plan provides a definition of equity and establishes goals, strategies, and a set of “early actions” to advance racial equity through SCAG’s policies, practices and activities. Highlights from the Early Action Plan are listed below.
Defining Racial Equity
The Special Committee on Equity & Social Justice, SCAG staff, and stakeholder groups developed a working definition of racial equity to guide work moving forward. This definition forms the foundation of the Racial Equity Early Action Plan. The goal is to lead with racial equity as a focal point in addressing the pervasive and deep inequities faced by black, indigenous, and peoples of color, as well as to support the overarching goal of the creation of a just and equitable society.
“As central to SCAG’s work, racial equity describes the actions, policies, and practices that eliminate bias and barriers that have historically and systemically marginalized communities of color, to ensure all people can be healthy, prosperous, and participate fully in civic life.”
Racial Equity Glossary
In addition to defining racial equity, SCAG staff compiled a Racial Equity Glossary, which offers an opportunity for all to build a shared vocabulary and foster shared understanding. This glossary is based on those found at the Racial Equity Tools Glossary, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, and other sources.
Prior to developing a Racial Equity Early Action Plan, SCAG needed to acquire a better understanding of the agency and the region’s existing conditions. In February 2021, SCAG staff developed a preliminary baseline assessment of racial equity in Southern California to inform future planning efforts. Indicators of equity were grouped into categories aligned with the goals of SCAG’s long-range plan, Connect SoCal: Economy, Healthy and Complete Communities, Mobility, and Environment. This baseline conditions report will serve as a starting place for future assessment of equitable conditions in the region.
The Racial Equity Early Action Plan provides a framework for internal- and external-focused actions. It is a critical step in ensuring that SCAG’s equity-related work continues to advance and that it endures for years to come. The Early Action Plan is an iterative process, with opportunities to identify new actions and commitments going forward to ultimately improve regional conditions, through SCAG’s policies and programs and in partnership with other agencies and institutions, across sectors, putting community in the center of efforts.
The framework of the Early Action Plan was informed by Equity in the Center’s publication, Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture, which provides insights, tactics, and best practices to shift organizational culture and operationalize equity, and by consultation with Mr. Charles Brown of Equitable Cities.
THE FRAMEWORK OF THE DRAFT EARLY ACTION PLAN INCLUDES FOUR GOALS
Shift Organizational Culture – Focus SCAG’s internal work and practices on inclusion, diversity, equity, and awareness.
Center Racial Equity in Regional Policy & Planning – Bring equity into SCAG’s regional planning functions.
Encourage Racial Equity in Local Planning Practices – Promote racial equity in efforts involving local elected officials and planning professionals.
Activate and Amplify – Communicate broadly SCAG’s commitment to racial equity and join with others in different fields and sectors to amplify impact.
EACH OF THESE GOALS IS ADVANCED THROUGH THREE STRATEGIES
Listen & Learn – Develop a shared understanding of our history of discrimination and the structural barriers that continue to perpetuate the inequities experienced today.
Engage & Co-Power – Create an environment where everyone is included, able to share their experiences, and equipped to talk about racial equity and inequities.
Integrate & Institutionalize – Center racial equity in all aspects of work through internal and external systems change.
THE EARLY ACTION PLAN INCLUDES A TOTAL OF 29 ACTIONS FAIRLY EVENLY SPLIT ACROSS ALL THE GOALS AND STRATEGIES
Examples of actions include:
Update SCAG’s Strategic Plan to incorporate an equity vision and goals to guide the agency’s work plans;
Develop equity goals, policies, and metrics as part of Connect SoCal update, and conduct equity-focused outreach and engagement;
Provide resources through the Sustainable Communities Program to promote Environmental Justice;
Expand Toolbox Tuesday trainings to include sessions on racial equity;
Explore developing a Research Program with University Partners; and
Explore opportunities to partner to establish a “Planning University” for Community-Based Organizations and Stakeholders.
A foundational strategy in the Early Action Plan is to listen and learn to develop a shared understanding of our history of discrimination and the structural barriers that continue to perpetuate inequities. Here is a list of resources to support agencies and individuals as they work to advance equity.