Philadelphia’s Racial Equity Strategy

As part of Philadelphia’s Racial Equity Strategy all City departments are required to create a Racial Equity Action Plan by the end of 2023. To achieve this goal, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) leads departments through training, assessment, and strategic planning focused on reducing and eliminating racial disparities. 

We think about racial equity as both an outcome and a process. As an outcome, racial equity means closing race-based outcomes gaps so that race can no longer predict one’s success. As a process, racial equity means including people who are most harmed by inequities in decision-making processes that govern their lives. 

City departments were placed into three cohorts, or small groups of departments, who received a year of comprehensive racial equity training and support. Philadelphia’s first cohort of ten departments concluded in August 2021, and the second cohort of 13 departments concluded in August 2022. In July 2023, a third and final group of departments developed racial equity action plans. The third cohort departments included:  

  • Board of Pensions & Retirement 
  • Chief Administrative Office  
  • City Treasurer’s Office 
  • Community Life Improvement Program 
  • Department of Public Property  
  • Mayor’s Commission on Aging 
  • Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity 
  • Office of Domestic Violence Strategy 
  • Office of Innovation & Technology  
  • Office of Property Assessment  
  • Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability 
  • Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations 
  • Streets Department 

Racial Equity Action Plans from Final Cohort 

The Racial Equity Action Plans provide a root cause analysis for racialized disparities within each City department and offer strategic recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate those disparities. The recommendations may involve changing internal or external policies, programs, or services. In the third cohort, the departments’ priority strategies focused on five key themes:   

  1. Using data and technology to target and improve City services for residents.  
  2. Engaging in better community outreach to improve access to and awareness of City services and benefit programs.  
  3. Improving hiring and recruitment pipelines for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) candidates for City employment.  
  4. Ensuring current BIPOC employees have the professional development opportunities and benefits needed to support their growth and retention as City employees.  
  5. Dedicating resources to staff positions to support the City’s racial equity commitments. 

Next Steps  

The completion of the City’s initial racial equity planning process is an important milestone, but Philadelphia’s commitment to racial equity continues. ODEI will continue to build upon this work and has identified the following priorities for the remainder of 2023:  

  1. The City will continue to support departments in implementing racial equity strategies. In 2023, ODEI launched a Racial Equity Community of Practice which is led by City employees for City employees. The group is interested in understanding, influencing, workshopping, and sharing policies and programs to maximize racial equity impact in City government.  
  2. The City will continue to track progress of its racial equity work. In May 2023, ODEI launched Philadelphia’s first Racial Equity Strategy Dashboard. The dashboard is an accountability tool that will help us track our progress in achieving racial equity and provide a transparent, accessible way for residents to see the steps we are taking to eliminate racial disparities in all areas of City government. ODEI will update the dashboard on an annual basis.  

 To learn more about the City of Philadelphia’s DEI strategies, visit the ODEI website.