Internal Review - Charleston SCEIRC Report

Internal Review - Charleston SCEIRC Report

On June 9th, 2020, the City of Charleston created the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Conciliation "focused on the creation of measurable outcomes, promotion of greater accountability, and coordination of community wide efforts to achieve racial equity in our community." 

In August, 2021, the SCEIRC released its recommendations.  The complete, official document can be found here.  In the interest of public consumption, we have translated the hard-to-read tables embedded in the report into bullet-pointed lists.  Each of the following areas of SCEIRC focus are outlined in separate posts:

This post is dedicated to "Internal Review" and contains the stated Long-term goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Actions from the report.  

The report contains the following additional details for each Action: Performance Measures, Evaluation Tools, Lead Staff, Oversight, and Due Date.  Those have been omitted here for brevity.

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LONG-TERM GOAL: Implement a cultural and systemic shift within the city so more city employees will be able to recognize, evaluate, and set forth goals and benchmarks to make their departments racially equitable.

OBJECTIVE:  To make the City of Charleston a racially equitable working place.

  • Strategy: Racial equity training for all city employees.
    • Actions: 
    • City of Charleston establishes budget under Manager of Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation to perform renewable training for all city employees on a bi-annual basis. 
    • City of Charleston requires all city employees to attend racial equity training. 
    • City of Charleston requires all city employees to pass assessment prior to onboarding and renew certification on a bi- annual basis. 
    • Work with community partners to develop a racial equity framework to reverse uneven hiring and promotion standards. 
    • Require all city contractors to adopt the City’s racial equity framework prior to obtaining city funds
    • Racial Equity Core Team is formed (with representation from staff across departments), to provide focus and direction to the items in this plan. This team may form smaller work groups to carry out specific tasks.
    • Racial Equity Training – Require training on an annual basis for all employees, elected officials to develop a baseline understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion and the role they play as well as building cultural competency. Work with outside consultants/contractors as needed to offer these trainings and department or topic specific training if appropriate.
    • Conversational Opportunities – Offer less formal opportunities such as watching videos or conversations around racial equity in a lunch & learn format.
    • Community Conversations – work with local partners to host some community conversations around racial equity.
    • Employee Racial Equity survey – Conduct employee and City Council racial equity survey on a biennial basis.
    • Racial equity as core competency in select job descriptions –Departments identify as appropriate specific job classifications with key racial equity responsibilities and incorporate racial equity as a core competency / expectation into those job descriptions.
    • Clear racial equity expectations for managers – Training on equitable hiring practices, management and supervising employees for all staff with hiring and supervisory duties. Develop clear expectations and accountability for racially equitable work places. Develop best practices that can be used by manager within hiring processes to minimize bias and incorporate equity throughout all phases of the process.
    • Departmental Racial Equity Plans and use of Racial Equity Tool – Core Team develops a template for departments to use to create department Racial Equity Plan and Tool. Use data collected regarding inequities in Community and information gathered from Community Conversations to help identify gaps in service/access to guide departments on plan development. Each department will pilot with one program or policy in first year
    • Incorporate use of the Racial Equity Tool into the budget process - Pilot template for use in one department/expense are in the 2022 budget process. 
    • Based on what is learned modify and implement across all departments in 2023. City Council reviews decisions and the cumulative impacts of the proposed budget with Racial Equity lens.
    • Strengthen personnel policy and practices – review policies to identify racial equity barriers to hiring, retention, and upward mobility. Use the Racial Equity Tool to develop recommended changes. Barriers to be considered include minimum qualifications (education and experience equivalencies) and the role of seniority in promotions and benefits.
    • Establish a framework for effective and inclusive engagement with Charleston’s diverse communities – Review current practices for how the city does community engagement. Develop jurisdiction policies and practices that engage diverse communities in jurisdictional processes.
    • Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement Training – Provide introductory Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement training to employees that routinely engage with the public.

LONG-TERM GOAL: Establish a living wage and system of compensation where city employees who wish to live within the city limits can do so.

OBJECTIVE:  To intentionally decrease the pay disparities for city employees.

  • Strategy: Establish a livable wage for all city staff that coincides with the cost of living within city limits.
    • Actions: 
    • Audit wages of all city employees that evaluates race and gender disparities.
    • Develop cost analysis study that will determine the annual cost of increased wages aligned with Harvard study on minimum wage to live within the City of Charleston.
    • Reallocation of the City of Charleston yearly budget to annual increase of lowest 10% earners over five year term.
    • Develop a Section 8 Savings Plan for city employees to establish early stages of wealth accumulation with the potential to lead to homeownership within the city or support other wealth creating investments.

LONG-TERM GOAL: Develop a targeted recruitment, hiring and compensation system with the goal of creating a more diverse and equitable workforce.

OBJECTIVE:  To address structural inequities in recruitment, hiring, and promotion of city employees.

  • Strategy: Address the hiring practices in city departments to dismantle systemic barriers to hiring and promoting qualified minority candidates.
    • Actions: 
    • Audit the demographical data of hiring and promotion within the city from the past five years that evaluates race and gender disparities.
    • Increase diversity recruitment and in-house pipeline for all City supervisors, managers, and human resource positions.
    • Reestablish city funded professional development and continuing education through Trident Technical College and College of Charleston open to all city employees.

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The report contains the following introduction before listing the recommendations:

Due to the reorganization of the Internal Review Committee, the Chair—with consensus of the board—felt it was necessary to deploy the resources of the committee to the issues of Hiring, Employment, Training and Development for our formal recommendations. As noted in our interim report, significant funds are required for the Manager of Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation to fulfill the mission of making the City of Charleston the standard of workplace equity in the Lowcountry. Our recommended strategies are as follows: 1) Racial equity training for all city employees. 2) Establish a livable wage for all city staff that coincides with the cost of living within city limits. 3)

As opposed to addressing each issue from the top down with hopes that standards trickle down, our committee developed recommendations that will have an immediate effect on each employee and contractor of the city that can be measured on an annual basis. Each strategy recommended requires the city government to financially invest in an equitable workforce such as pay increases for the lowest earners, professional development and targeted equity training for all employees, and amendments to the requirements for all city contractors. Implementing these strategies offer a solutions-based model for reversing centuries-old uneven and unjust systems of power that have perpetually prevented city workers from upward mobility within the workforce.

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Hero image credit:

Screenshot taken from Internal Review section of the report.

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