Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The City of Gastonia's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department works to shape a city that is a great place to live, work, learn, and play where everyone can thrive.  We serve City Management, City Departments, elected officials, and residents to advance equity and inclusion and dismantel systemic inequities. We look forward to working with you!
 

Our Mission

Our mission is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all internal functions of the City and throughout the community.  
 

Diversity is expressed in a myriad of forms and includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make an individual or group different from another (race and ethnicity, gender identity, age, socio-economic status, religion, political affiliation, physical and mental ability, personality, work-life issues, learning styles, etc.).

Equity is the just and fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people across all systems (economic, healthcare, housing, education, workforce, environment, social and community). Equity is distinct from equality and fairness. Equitable environments address disparities and strive to eliminate unique and systemic barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups. Such environments are free from discrimination, harassment and bias.

Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, heard, and valued to fully participate.

Our Commitment

To realize our mission, we commit to the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of our organization and to the delivery of public services in pursuit of equitable and just outcomes for everyone, without regard to their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity, marital or familial status, immigration status, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, disability, and other individual identities. We also commit to collaborating with community partners to facilitate a coordinated and innovative approach to this work. 
 

Our Approach

Our actions are guided by six guiding principles.City of Gastonia DEI Guiding Principles

Diversity is strength. Building a diverse workforce means that we will have diverse perspectives, skills, talents, creativity, and experiences represented which will help increase the quality of our decisions and actions.

Be intentional. We acknowledge that without an intentional focus on DEI, we will continue to perpetuate and deepen inequality.

Normalize Conversations. We understand that in order to advance our efforts we must have courageous conversations around biases, systemic racism, discrimination, injustices, and other sensitive topics. Normalizing conversations is especially important for providing space for staff to begin to process and question their own biases and to examine how biases impacts their daily lives and work. We commit to normalizing conversations, offering a clear opportunity to be introspective and listen to the challenges of marginalized individuals and groups.

Collaborate with the community. When we listen to, and work alongside community partners, we will achieve greater success to make lasting change possible. The greatest impacts come from collective efforts to understand the issues, map out strategies, and take action. This approach also allows us to use our collective energy and resources to effect change.

Be transparent and accountable. We are accountable to our community of dedicated neighbors (Great People) and will strive to provide a clear picture of what actions steps we’ve taken thus far and communicate planned action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and within the community.

Change is ongoing. There is no quick answer for how to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a process without a fixed end point. Developing policies that place equity as a standard business practice takes a dedication for action by leadership, resources, and a commitment to learn.

 

How it Began

The City of Gastonia’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Department was created in January 2021. The department came to fruition as the result of visioning that began in 2018, when City Management began working with the City Council to develop a DEI initiative focused on fairness and inclusion for the entire community that it serves. Work within the Department is structured around deliberate actions to build and sustain a culture of equity and inclusion across all city departments and within the communities we serve. The Department currently has one full-time Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator who reports directly to the Deputy City Manager.
 
 

Photo of Cherie Jzar DEI CoordinatorMeet Your DEI Champion

Cherie Jzar is championing our efforts as Gastonia's first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator.  She will provide leadership, guidance, and insight to City Elected Officials, City Management and City Department Leaders and drive change through organizing education, engagement, and programming. Cherie will also work with community partners to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the City of Gastonia.
 
We can't do this work alone and realize that it will take time and coordinated effort to developing practices and policies that place equity at the forefront. So we invite you to join us in this work. To learn more about the City’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy and plans, contact Cherie Jzar, AICP (704) 866-6705 cheriej@cityofgastonia.com
 
 
The City of Gastonia is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment that is inclusive, equitable and welcoming. We value diversity and promise to honor your experiences, perspective and unique identity.