Diverse Resident Voices Empowered through New Community Equity and Inclusion Survey

– By Brian Smith –

In response to recent national calls for racial justice, inclusivity and equity for historically oppressed and marginalized peoples, Polco has developed a new Community Equity and Inclusion Survey. The survey is free for a limited time to local governments to use in their communities on Polco.

“We think it’s time now that people should examine these issues,” said Michelle Kobayashi, Polco’s Sr. Vice President of Innovation. “We’ve heard from communities that they are ready and willing to engage in these tough conversations. They now need the appropriate tools and resources to do it. We are providing those.”

The Community Equity and Inclusion Survey helps local governments assess their community for inclusion. It also empowers underrepresented residents to improve their community by helping shape local policies. Key to this process, Kobayashi said, is gathering a diverse array of voices that may not be heard otherwise. Surveys are often the best way to include those residents in decision making.

“The goal is to get marginalized people to participate,” she said. “Typically those voices aren’t often at the table. Surveys give them a chance to answer anonymously within five minutes. It’s a safer, more equitable way to express their opinions about what’s happening in the community instead of going to a town meeting.”

The survey asks residents of all backgrounds about issues such as safety, fairness, respect and how welcome they feel inside of their communities.

Local governments should use the survey results not only to shape internal policy, but also to partner with the community to bring results to life.

“It is a community process and a community solution,” she said. “It’s everybody. It’s a partnership with the government, with the nonprofits, with social justice organizations, with faith-based institutions. It’s a partnership to mitigate these issues in a community.” Local governments must do their part to invite diverse populations to take the survey. Through partnerships, community leaders can get the word out to a wider audience and ensure more voices are heard.

“I am excited to share this new survey with Welcoming America members and to use it as a tool for communities who are seeking to become Certified Welcoming,” said Melissa Bertolo, Certified Welcoming Director with Welcoming America. “Now more than ever, community engagement and fostering belonging are critical components for communities striving to be more welcoming and inclusive.”

Polco is committed to bringing the voices of all residents into the civic process through surveys and online engagement. These public input tools and solutions help local governments make better, more informed decisions.

You can conduct the Community Equity and Inclusion Survey of your own residents for free. 

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*Note: This survey is free for  local governments to deploy on Polco for a limited time, and the results are free to view on Polco in perpetuity. Additionally, we are offering a disparity analysis with a low-cost Polco subscription. This analysis compares survey responses by respondent demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and others. Differences in response  provide meaningful insight into how residents of diverse backgrounds experience a community and rate its equity and inclusivity. Learn more about this disparity analysis by emailing success@polco.us.

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