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The Equity and Inclusion function is a deliberate step toward advancing equity in Asheville, with racial and social equity as top priorities.

As part of the city government, the Office of Equity & Inclusion plays a unique role toward maximizing the access and opportunities that all people have to satisfy essential needs, advance their well-being and achieve their full potential. The Equity & Inclusion Director plays a key role in moving the city organization toward successful advancement of equity with Asheville through understanding, analyzing, and eliminating the root causes of racial disparities, and advancing equitable policies, practices, and procedures.

To advance equity and inclusion within municipal government, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) racial equity framework is being employed. The city of Asheville is a member of GARE, a national network of government jurisdictions working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all, which has developed a framework based on best practices from government entities that have been working to advance racial equity for a decade or longer. Creating an environment where a shared language and understanding of racism, implicit and explicit bias, and the government’s role in advancing equity is one component of the racial equity framework. Another component is creating equity tools; such as an equity action plan, which maps out a plan for transformational institutional change.

The newly established Human Relations Commission (HRCA) shares the values of equity and inclusion. As an advisory body to the Asheville City Council, the HRCA prioritizes racial equity as it seeks to improve human relations in Asheville.


What is the difference between Equity and Equality?

Equality is about sameness; it works when conditions are the same for everyone and everyone starts from the same place.

To operate with equity means there is first an understanding that everyone does not begin from the same place. Conditions, access, and opportunities differ; therefore, what is just and fair looks different based on conditions, access, and opportunities. Equity looks at outcomes.

It is important to note that the differing conditions, access, and opportunities are a result of both historical and present-day, intentional and unintentional decisions that are the foundation of every system and institution in our society.

equity at ballgame

Take a look at the image above. You can see that everyone on the left, despite the sloping ground and the height of the fence, has the same-sized box. This is equality. Everyone is not able to see over the fence.

Imagine that the sloping ground is Security Mapping/Redlining from the 1930s and that the height of the fence is the negative unintended consequence of Brown vs. Board of Education. Both are representative of a series of policy decisions that have had negative effects for some members of our community that have worsened over time while simultaneously benefiting others; effects that are still being experienced today. How do we provide just and fair solutions to mitigate the decisions of the past? We do it through equity.

Everyone on the right side of the image now has what they need to enjoy the game. This is equity. Why equity?

Equity leads to what is known as the Curb-Cut Effect which is the practice of creating the conditions, access, and opportunities that allow those who have been left behind to participate and contribute fully. When we embrace, model, and practice equity we strengthen both the social fabric and economic prosperity of our communities. Equity is not a zero-sum game.



Equity is just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential (excerpt from Equity Manifesto)

Racial equity is the condition when racial identity no longer predicts individual or group life outcomes, and outcomes for all groups are improved.

Advancing racial equity employs analysis and strategies at the root cause of inequities and disparities; working to address disparities through changes in policy, practice, and procedure. (working draft)

Inclusion is authentic and empowered participation with a true sense of belonging.

The inclusive engagement of Asheville’s residents is demonstrated through meeting the community where they are and working collaboratively to ensure their voices are valued.




Related Services

Transit information including maps, schedules, fares, and service alerts

Business Inclusion (ABI)

The Business Inclusion Office for the City of Asheville actively seeks to identify minority and women-owned businesses for an opportunity to participate as providers of goods and services to the city.


Information on the forms of discrimination that are illegal in Asheville.

Related Projects

Reimagining Public Safety

Since June 6, City Council has voted to remove or repurpose the Vance Monument, passed a resolution supporting community reparations, and passed a budget that only funded departments for three months so that City staff could work with the community to reimagine public safety.

Vance Monument and street mural

Vance Monument Task Force

In response to community demands, the City Manager’s 30-60-90 day plan called for a resolution to remove Confederate monuments and to work with the community on renaming of streets.

Advancing Racial Equity in Asheville

The City is committed to environmental, economic, and social justice. With our Equity and Inclusion Office's help, the City of Asheville will apply an equity lens to the work we do in every department.

Equity and Inclusion News