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January 27 2020

"Woke" Cities Are Hiring "Chief Equity Officers"

by Charlotte Hays

There is a new kind of CEO—the Chief Equity Officer.

Chief Equity Officers are in vogue.

Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, for example, didn’t let an $800 million budget shortfall stop her from adding the new position of Chief Equity Officer to the financially-challenged city’s bureaucracy.

Mayor Lightfoot was moved in part to create the new position because Chicago’s public school system already has such an officer.

The idea behind an equity officer is that outcomes for all groups should be similar. If not, racism and discrimination are the reasons.

Steve Malanga explains in City Journal:

Many Americans probably have never heard of a “chief equity officer,” but it may be the hottest new job in municipal government. The emergence of the position is part of a broader movement to get local governments to look beyond the fundamental American ideals of equal treatment and opportunity and instead demand equity, which generally means the achievement of similar outcomes for all groups.

While certain programs pursued under the equity banner—minority contracting set-asides, say—have been around for years, others are newer and more radical.

The equity movement presumes that any unequal results in society reflect structural or institutional racism, even when officials can’t identify any actual discrimination.

To redress these purported inequities, the movement demands that every city department’s mission, and every major decision in local government, be looked at from a racial-equity perspective.

This means bias training, but there are also more serious measures suggested:

And equity promoters are pushing even more radical ideals, such as having municipalities pay reparations to minorities who’ve done poorly under local policies. 

So, let me get this straight: Kids do poorly in school, and the result is not tutorial programs, or an increased openness to school choice that allows kids to get into school environments where they are likely to learn more. It is cash rewards. I don’t need to point out the opportunities for abuse.  

Malanga observes that more and more “woke cities” are hiring Chief Equity Officer, or considering what are in effect reparations for alleged racism. Portland, for example, has an Office of Equity and Human Rights that helps city employees learn that “public policies [have been] designed to favor whites over other races.”

Needless to say, this doesn’t bring us together or encourage people to achieve. Telling people that barriers are being broken down and the sky is the limit might inspire young people. But the equity officer movement is really based in an ideology that doesn’t say that at all:

The justification for this all-encompassing focus on race is a postmodern view on discrimination and prejudice that has migrated from universities into the public sphere. Its advocates contend that America’s major institutions remain deeply racist and that white (especially white male) privilege is the main driver of discrimination, even where no discriminatory behavior is evident.

A Seattle government report, “Why Lead with Race,” is typical; it deems institutions as bigoted that “work to the benefit of white people,” as well as to “the benefit of men, heterosexuals, non-disabled people and so on.”

In other words, more division and discord, less call for all citizens, regardless of race or economic background, to seize opportunities and move forward.  

Like many progressive policies, this is most immediately devastating to the people—racial minorities—in whose name these policies are supposedly enacted, but it is harmful to society in general. 

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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