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The city of Marshall’s diversity equity and inclusion commission

Recently the City of Marshall established a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commission. The following is information on the DEI Commission:

History of the commission

In February 2020, the City Council–in response to community input–approved a city-wide 2020-2024 Strategic Plan which included the goal of fostering an inclusive and welcoming community valuing all residents and their diversity.

A preliminary group started meeting in late 2020 to discuss the formation of a working group and recommended a formal Commission be established.

The Marshall Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission was created in January of 2021.

The Commission will be comprised of up to nine members. The formal appointment to the Commission is scheduled to be completed by the Marshall City Council in March of 2021, following an application and interview process.

Due to initial high interest, the City is considering standing positions and sub-committees to allow for greater participation.

Some key definitions

Diversity: Actively bringing people of all backgrounds, from the perspective of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. to be a part of the community.

Equity: About ensuring all people have equal opportunities within the community and that bias, harassment, and discrimination — of any kind — are not tolerated. 

Inclusion: Recognizing and embracing those differences so everyone can have an impact in the community because of the very qualities that make them who they are.

The mission and guiding

principles of the commission

MISSION STATEMENT: Create and sustain an ongoing dialogue, through which we explore inequities, share information, and be a change agent for race equity within our community.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES: 

Equity

• Building a racial equity lens into all of the DEI Commission work including strategic planning, policy, and priority setting process, communication strategy, and implementation work. 

Equality

• Strives to ensure all community members receive equal access to opportunities within our community and to be treated with dignity and respect.  

• Supports participation on an equal basis with others in any area of economic, social, political, cultural, or civil life. 

Inclusion 

• Ensuring that all community members feel respected and benefit from the economic prosperity of the City. 

• Fostering an environment of representation in which all community members feel connected and authentically engaged. 

Collaboration 

• Striving for an environment that is committed to teamwork and engagement. 

• Utilizing available resources and partnering with organizations, initiatives, and allies that will advance racial equity in Marshall. 

Transparency  

• Building relationships based on honesty, open communication, trust, consistency, and accountability with individuals and/or groups of people who are being disadvantaged or excluded. 

Why diversity, equity, and

inclusion matters

Each person has value and we must address barriers and historical factors that have led to unfair conditions for diverse populations.

Organizations and individuals that tap into diverse talent pools are stronger and more efficient. Communities should become more diverse and inclusive because it makes economic sense to leverage the talent pools of different populations.

Organizations will better serve their customers if they reflect the diversity of their market base. Customers want to see themselves represented in the organizations that serve them.

Diverse populations, and the diversity of perspectives within them, will lead to better solutions to social problems.

The City of Marshall will create more opportunity for everyone if it is proactive and focuses on providing a great place to work and live. If Marshall can leverage the power of its diversity and eliminate the perception of unfairness and exclusion, Marshall stands a greater chance of being successful in its efforts to remain a family-friendly destination, with an above average standard of living.

Conclusion

The Commission is in the early stages of organizing and there will be much energy and effort needed to achieve the mission of the Commission. However, it is a first step in what we hope will be many steps towards cultivating our ability to forge relationships among many leading to an increase in our community’s cultural, economic and social vitality.

— Sharon Hanson is the city administrator for the city of Marshall and Esther Oluborode, is the Southwest Minnesota State University Student Body President

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