San Diego Race and Equity office now has a leader

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Photo by Chida Warren-Darby

Above: Kim Desmond at the City Administration Building Plaza, July 1, 2021.

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Kim Desmond, the City of San Diego’s first racing and fairness manager, began her new role this week as head of the city’s race and fairness office. One of them … Continue reading →

Issued: August 24, 2021 |

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Kim Desmond, the City of San Diego’s first racing and fairness director, began her new role this week.

She will head the city’s Race and Equity Office, which was established by city council last year after George Floyd’s death brought renewed attention to issues of racial justice and inequality. .

RELATED: San Diego City Council Votes to Establish a Race and Equity Office

Desmond is responsible for recognizing and addressing systemic biases and providing support to elected officials, city employees and the San Diego Police Department in creating fair policies.

For his first 100 days on the job, Desmond set three key priorities:

  • Build a racial and social justice learning and development academy for city employees to familiarize with systemic racism.
  • Community sensitization to the various communities of the city through public meetings and listening sessions.
  • Work with city leaders to review budget decisions to ensure fair results.

Mayor Todd Gloria said the city chose Desmond because of her success as an equity official in Denver, where she recently helped change the city code to end discrimination against protective hairstyles.

“It’s not just about talking about equity for the sake of talking about equity. It’s about getting things done, ”said Gloria.

San Diego’s first pay equity study was released in March and found that employees of color in the city earned an average of 20.8% less than white employees in 2019. Due to this disparity, Gloria believes that one area that needs immediate attention is in the city’s hiring and compensation practices.

RELATED: City of San Diego Employee Study Finds Women and People of Color Receive Lower Pay

Desmond, who started on Monday, knows one issue she needs to tackle is making sure everyone understands what fairness means.

“The hardest thing I would say is also creating a space where everyone understands the work, everyone understands how we define fairness and what it means to lead in this way and to be inclusive in as city employees, ”Desmond said.

According to Desmond, fairness is about ensuring that individuals and neighborhoods have access to the resources they need to “live the best of their lives” and a deep understanding that different neighborhoods have different needs.

She understands that there are people who might be critical or suspicious of her work and the creation of the Office of Race and Fairness. But she said she was ready to do the job to gain their trust.

“To those who question this job, I would tell them that when one of us prospers, we all prosper,” Desmond said. “It’s about caring that in our neighborhoods there may be different needs and you want someone to meet your needs. ”

Desmond’s ultimate goal for the San Diego Office of Race and Equity is to establish a culture and infrastructure that will endure, even when a new mayor is elected.

“We’re going to carry the water and then when it gets to the part where it’s time for us to stop, we’re going to make sure the water continues,” Desmond said.

Photo by Cristina Kim

Cristina Kim

Racial justice and social equity journalist

opening quotesclosing quotesI cover issues of racial justice and social equity – a broad area that includes housing, health, criminal justice and education. I’m interested in how systems reproduce inequalities and highlight the ways communities of color are pushing for greater equity.

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