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Indianapolis seeks to add Office of Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion led by mayor

A view from downtown Indianapolis on Aug. 14, 2023. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city government is getting ready to add an Office of Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion.

Community leaders say they’re excited to learn about the initiative, which would be led by the mayor’s office. They say this proposal is a step in the right direction for a diverse community.

Tony Mason, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Urban League, said, “I am excited that Mayor (Joe) Hogsett and his team and the city are taking this step and particularly in this time when there’s so much divisiveness around the word ‘equity.’”

The proposal says that the Office of Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion would include diversity, equity and inclusion training for city employees, officials and appointees. Community groups would also have access to the training. In addition, the group would lead community initiatives on behalf of the mayor’s office, and receive diversity, equity and inclusion metrics from city departments and agencies.

Representatives of the Indianapolis Urban League and the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE) say they’re happy about the proposal. Mark Russell, director of advocacy at CAFE, said, “Normalizing the appreciation for diversity, equity and inclusion is a great step and particularly when it comes from our political and social leadership.”

Cheria Caldwell, vice president of communications and engagement at CAFE, said, “We have a huge population of new and expecting mothers, and access to health care, and food access, and education, and those things are going to be important, but being able to understand the need to be able to approach from the perspective of those who utilize those services is very important.”

Russell added, “There are a lot of stereotypes regardless of immigrant communities that are very prevalent, so we hope this type of training could one, be uniform because there are a lot of efforts at training that aren’t consistent.”

Caldwell added, “It’s just good for everyone who is in a seat of power and who has the ability to make decisions to continue to educate themselves and stay abreast as to what the needs are in the community.”

Representatives of the office of Hogsett, a Democrat facing a Republican opponent in the Nov. 7 election, would not comment on the proposal before Monday night’s meeting of the Indianapolis City-County Council. They plan to reveal more during meetings Monday night and Tuesday with council members.