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Thursday, July 07, 2022

The VLCT Equity Toolkit aims to assist municipalities in centering the work of justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (JDEIB) in their decision making, policies, practices, and programs. It is the product of a deliberative process led by VLCT staff, the VLCT Equity Committee, and the VLCT Board of Directors and funded by the Vermont Community Foundation. It is not meant to be a definitive guide to how every community should undertake equity work. VLCT recognizes that every community is different, and that each community must carefully and deliberately determine how best to engage in this type of work.

The toolkit includes resources for both internally focused equity efforts (ensuring a community is a model employer) and external equity resources (ensuring the community itself is a welcoming place to all). Some of the resources are examples of how VLCT has addressed diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice in our own work that members may wish to model their work on.  Other resources are a collection of best practices we’ve seen in other places. VLCT encourages communities to go beyond this toolkit and consider partner toolkits, including the State of Vermont Racial Equity Office Equity Toolkit and the Vermont Economic Mitigation & Recovery Task Force Municipal Diversity Equity and Inclusion Toolkit.


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Adopting a Statement Committing to Equity Work

Many communities have begun their equity work by adopting a statement that outlines the community’s commitment to justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. VLCT’s statement can be found at The Vermont Declaration of Inclusion has been adopted by more than 70 Vermont communities as of June 2022, others have created something completely unique. VLCT encourages communities to have a deliberate discussion about what is best for their community.

Harvard University authored a DEI Commitment Statement Guide (pdf download) that communities may wish to review.  

Below are examples of statements from governing bodies that can be used to develop ideas for your own statement of commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.


The City/Town of _______________ condemns racism and welcomes all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, or disability, and wants everyone to feel safe and welcome in our community.

As a town, we formally condemn all discrimination in all of its forms, commit to fair and equal treatment of everyone in our community, and will strive to ensure all of our actions, policies, and operating procedures reflect this commitment.

The City/Town of _______________ has and will continue to be a place where individuals can live freely and express their opinions

Diversity is about all of us, our strengths, our differences and how we work in unity. Every team member matters and is essential to building our people focused organization. Our ownership mindset extends to accepting and respecting each other’s uniqueness, ideas, backgrounds and contributions. Our culture of equity empowers VLCT to thrive and develop the relationships that connect people in meaningful ways across our enterprise, with our members, business partners and communities.

The City/Town of _______________ commits to identifying and addressing bias, racial injustice, and inequity.  We will deepen our efforts to dismantle structural barriers that limit opportunities and access for those who are underrepresented and marginalized in our community. Our vision is to see a City/Town of _______________ that not only mirrors the diversity of our constituents, but also ensures fair and intentional access to economic opportunities for all.

The City/Town of _______________ is committed to creating a culture of inclusion and access for all of our citizens, businesses, and visitors. We will strive and work together to enact inclusive policies, build stronger community relationships, improve business opportunities, especially for marginalized people, and provide quality governmental services to every citizen.

Forming a Municipal Equity Committee

One of the first concrete steps many municipalities across Vermont have taken is the formation of an equity committee. These committees take many different forms, from subcommittees of the legislative body of a municipality, to advisory committees to the legislative body made up of citizen volunteers, to completely independent committees.

Several communities across the state have formed equity committees. Links to a few of them are below. This list is not comprehensive. If your community has formed a committee and would like to be included, please email

VLCT’s work to form an equity committee, including the governing documents and charge, are another resource to help communities establish their own committee. VLCT laid out a specific charge for the committee and then the committee created its own charter, which was subsequently adopted by the Board of Directors.

Building an Equity Framework

A Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (JDEIB) Framework is a guide or blueprint that aids in the development of a DEI Strategic Plan. It ensures consistency of commitment, focus, and implementation across the organization. Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging touches virtually every part of an organization and as a result it can be overwhelming just thinking about where to start. The framework identifies the areas that are priorities. 

One of the first actions the VLCT Equity Committee took after organizing itself was to adopt an Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan Framework. This framework served as the outline for the action plan. That framework (at bottom), and examples of other municipal frameworks, can be found below.

VLCT’s Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Framework for Action

Foundation & Infrastructure

Provide visible, dedicated support and structure with authority and budget to effectively implement justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Leadership and Accountability Hold leaders accountable for implement the justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging vision, setting goals, achieving results, and being role models.
Assessment and Evaluation Identify and monitor appropriate metrics and accountability measures to achieve and sustain systemic change.
Equitable Employment Practices Strengthen the organization by hiring individuals with a diversity of life and professional experiences.
Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Training To develop workforce awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to be active partners in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.
Inclusive Work Environment To have a diverse and inclusive workplace free of harassment, discrimination, and systemic barriers.
Inclusive Service and Engagement To ensure inclusive and equitable access to and benefit of municipal services, programs, and facilities.
Accessible Information and Communication To communicate both internally and externally in a way that demonstrates, exemplifies, and embodies justice, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Meaningful Partnerships

To develop positive and respectful internal and external partnerships that contribute to inclusive decision making.


VLCT's Framework graphic. Vision over everything, a foundation and infrastructure base. Guiding principals that are informed by the mission.

Considering Assessment Tools

Many organizations conduct some form of assessment before, during or after they commit to equity work. Some assessments are quite simple, and designed to be administered as self-assessments. Other communities hire consultants to do the assessment. Below are some examples of assessment tools and assessments. 

Creating an Action Plan/Strategic Plan

One of the most common questions VLCT receives is, “what can my community do to address equity, inclusion and belonging?” Reviewing the equity action plans and strategic plans of other municipalities can provide inspiration and ideas on exactly what types of activities a community may wish to consider. We’ve also included VLCT’s action plan as an example. 

Establish a Common Language

Communication is key to building inclusive environments and workplaces. The language and concepts of Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging are very broad and ever-changing. Depending on the lived experiences of individuals words may hold different meanings. Hence, creating a common language of foundational terms that your Equity Committee has agreed upon reduces conflict from misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This is a first step towards meaningful and impactful conversation and work. We’ve compiled some resources to help communities consider exactly what they want to talk about:

Recommended JDEIB Books

VLCT’s equity consultant, Workplace Matters, provided a curated list of recommended books to consider when learning about justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. These resources are not endorsed by VLCT, and they do not expressly represent the views and opinions of VLCT.

Popular Authors and Titles

In alphabetical order by author last name.

Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, (2018)

Dare To Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Brené Brown, (2018)

Beyond Diversity: 12 Non-Obvious Ways To Build A More Inclusive World. Rohit Bhargava, & Jennifer Brown, (2021)

How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive. Jennifer Brown, (2021)

Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces. Karen Catlin, (2019)

The Better Allies Approach to Hiring. Karen Catlin, (2020)

White Fragility. Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo, (2018)

Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm. Robin DiAngelo, (2021)

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Nikole Hannah-Jones, (2021)

Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships across Differences. Tiffany Jana, Matthew Freeman, (2016)

Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion. Tiffany Jana, Ashley Diaz Mejias, with forward by Jay Coen Gilbert, (2018)

Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions. Tiffany Jana, & Michael Baran, (2020)

How to Be an Antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning. Ibram X. Kendi, (2016)

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. Heather McGhee, (Reprint edition 2022)

What if I Say the Wrong Thing?: 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People. Verna A. Myers, (2014)

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Richard Rothstein, (2018)

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Isabel Wilkerson, (Reprint edition 2020)

Books by Topic

In alphabetical order by topic.


This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Ashton Applewhite, (2016)

Bias in Technology

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. Virginia Eubanks, (2018)

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. Safiya Noble, (2018)


Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. Judith Heumann, (2020)

The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal. Jonathan Mooney, (2004)

Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally. Emily Ladau, E., (2021)


Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture. Lee Airton, (2019)

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower. Brittney Cooper, (2019)

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change. Ellen Pao, (2017)


Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis. Kevin Mumford, (2019)

Alphabet Soup: The Essential Guide to LGBTQ2+ Inclusion at Work. Michael Bach, (2022)

Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity. Micah Rajunov & A. Scott Duane, (2019)

Privilege and White Supremacy

Nice White Ladies: The Truth About White Supremacy, Our Role in It, and How We Can Help Dismantle It. Jessie Daniels, (2021)

White Like Me: Reflections On Race From A Privileged Son. Tim Wise, (2011)


Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism. Laura E. Gomez, (2022)

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria. Beverly Daniel Tatum, (20th anniversary edition, 2017)

So You Want to Talk About Race. Ijeoma Oluo, (2018)

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. Virginia Eubanks, Ian Haney-López, (2014)

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing. Annelise A. Singhe, (1st edition 2019) (The Social Justice Handbook Series)

But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations About Race. Bruce Reyes-Chow & Ryan Kemp-Pappan, (1st edition 2013)

Rez Rules: My Indictment of Canada’s and America’s Systemic Racism Against Indigenous Peoples. Clarence Louie, (2021)

Unconscious Bias/Brain

Thinking, Fast and Slow. Daniel Kahneman, (1st edition 2013)

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment. Daniel Kahneman, D., Sibony, O., & Sunstein, C. R., (2021)

Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts. Leslie Aguilar, (1st edition 2021)

Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives. Howard Ross (Updated edition 2020)


Managing Diversity In Public Sector Workforces. Norman M. Riccucci, (2nd edition 2021)

Inclusion Nudges for Talent Selection: Action Guide with 30 Examples of Behavioral Designs. Tinna Nielsen, & Lisa Kepinski, (2020)

Recommended JDEIB Videos

VLCT’s equity consultant, Workplace Matters, provided a curated list of recommended videos to consider when learning about justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. These resources are not endorsed by VLCT, and they do not expressly represent the views and opinions of VLCT.

Video Series

Who Me? Biased?

  1. Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism
  2. Check Our Bias to Wreck Our Bias
  3. The Life-Changing Magic of Hanging Out
  4. Why We’re Awkward
  5. Snacks and Punishment
  6. High Heels, Violins, and a Warning


How You See Me

ARAB | How You See Me   E.1

ASIAN | How You See Me   E.2

BLACK | How You See Me   E.3

LGBTQ | How You See Me   E.4

WOMEN | How You See Me   E.5

BODY SIZE | How You See Me   E.6

MEN | How You See Me   E.7

DISABILITY | How You See Me   E.8


How To Practice Understanding | How You See Me


University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Training

Unconscious Bias This is a short unconscious bias training for staff members of UPMC.  It is well done, and it is a helpful introduction on the unconscious bias topic. Select Non-UPMC Staff Members button, then follow prompts.


Short Videos

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story | TED

The danger of silence | Clint Smith

Race the Power of an Illusion - The Stories We Tell

Race - the Power of an Illusion

The Color of Law: Housing, Segregation & Education

Unconscious bias: Stereotypical hiring practices. | Gail Tolstoi-Miller | TEDxLincolnSquare

Racial Stereotyping: You see a black guy, white guy, pretty girl committing a crime. What you do?

Intersectionality: Kimberlé Crenshaw at Ted

That Little Voice

RACE: Are We So Different?

The geography of inequality | Kevin Ehrman-Solberg TED Talk

Practical diversity: taking inclusion from theory to practice | Dawn Bennett-Alexander | TEDxUGA

Recommended JDEIB Podcasts

VLCT’s equity consultant, Workplace Matters, provided a curated list of recommended podcasts to consider when learning about justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. These resources are not endorsed by VLCT, and they do not expressly represent the views and opinions of VLCT.


Code Switch
What's CODE SWITCH? It's the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for! Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society - from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.

Choose Inclusion
Choose Inclusion. We'll have open and authentic conversations amongst ourselves and with guests to explore everything related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to help those who have been tasked with building DEI within their organizations and to help leaders understand why it's so important to Choose Inclusion in order to build a truly successful business. (Requires iTunes)

The Will to Change: Uncovering True Stories of Diversity & Inclusion
Everyone has a diversity story… even those you don’t expect. Hear from leading CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs as Jennifer Brown uncovers their true stories of diversity and inclusion.

Identity Politics
Identity Politics is a podcast that features new stories and perspectives about race, gender and Muslim life in America. From pop culture to politics, each episode co-hosts Ikhlas Saleem and Makkah Ali invite guests to talk about issues impacting their lives as Muslims at the intersection of multiple identities.

Interchangeable White Ladies Podcast - An Educated Guess
Interchangeable White Ladies is a podcast where two white 'Interchangeable White Ladies' deconstruct privilege, confront biases, and work on being less basic. They ponder upon the question: How can white women use their privilege to deconstruct white culture, confront their own biases, be better allies, and be less basic? Listen to the Interchangeable White Ladies podcast to learn about all that and more!

Weekly interviews with the most interesting LGBTQ people in the world. Recent guests include Laverne Cox, Roxane Gay, Pete Buttigieg, and Trixie Mattel. LGBTQ&A is hosted by Jeffrey Masters and produced by The Advocate magazine, in partnership with GLAAD.

True Stories of The Lives of Queer and Trans People. Join in now and listen to the podcast hosted by Callie Wright.

Latino USA
Latino USA offers insight into the lived experiences of Latino communities and is a window on the current and merging cultural, political and social ideas impacting Latinos and the nation.

Black Health Matters
This podcast provides medical perspectives for the Black American community.

Dear White Women
Biracial co-hosts Sara & Misasha - two wickedly smart, funny, compassionate best friends - have very mixed-race children between them and are personally invested in helping to uproot systemic racism. Weekly episodes include interviews of people whose stories you might not often listen to; deep dives into history, psychology, and current events to explain why we are where we are as a country; and actions that you take right now to make change in your spheres. We're not perfect, but we're real

All My Relations
All My Relations is a podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) to explore our relationships— relationships to land, to our creatural relatives, and to one another’s space is for everyone—for Native folks to be joyous, think critically about issues. This space is for everyone—for Native folks to be joyous, think critically about issues facing our communities, hear new perspectives, look into a mirror of self, and for non-Native folks to listen and learn.

Disability Talks: Don’t Dis My Ability
Real conversations. No-nonsense talk from everyday people with disabilities living their most independent lives everyday lives. Tune in for the latest news surrounding disability, accessibility, and independence, where conversations aren't dissed and stories that need to be told aren't missed. Subscribe to this podcast to stay in the know. Disability Talks: Don't Dis my Ability is hosted by Ed Granger. Abilities in Motion is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities live independent, self-determined lives.

Additional Equity Training

Many municipalities conduct equity training for their employees, elected officials and appointed officials. VLCT has partnered with multiple organizations to provide equity training to our membership. Some of the most recent programs are below. 

Municipal Efforts to Address Equity Presented at Town Fair 2021

Just or Bust: How Racial Equity is Critical to the Future of Vermont Towns at Town Fair 2020

VLCT and National League of Cities REAL Program Training

Municipalities that are members of PACIF can apply for scholarship funding and grants to pay for certain tailored equity trainings.

Equity Training Topics

Below are some examples of trainings our members, our consultants, and other municipalities have offered. Municipalities that are members of PACIF can apply for scholarship funding and grants to pay for certain tailored equity trainings. Please note that inclusion on this list does not mean they are eligible for any PACIF grants or scholarships.

Professional Development and Training Topics

  • Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Belonging & Othering
  • Microaggressions & Implicit Bias
  • Culture Competency
  • Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination & “Isms”
  • Intersectionality, Equity-mindedness & Othering
  • Allyship, Accomplice, & Co-conspirator
  • Sexuality & Gender Identity
  • Bystander Intervention
  • Inclusive Excellence in the Workplace
  • Inclusive Excellence & the Municipality Board
  • Inclusive Leadership
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Ageism
  • Disability
  • Neurodiversity

Training Examples

Introduction to Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (JDEIB)

The purpose of this session is to help participants understand the difference between terms diversity, equity, and Inclusion and examine the difference between equality and equity and the role that socialization plays in how we develop beliefs about other cultures and identities.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias exists in all of us. While these biases are largely unconscious, they influence how we interact with those around us and the decisions that we make about others. Explore the science of unconscious bias, how it impacts the workplace, and what are some things that we can do to manage and mitigate our biases moving forward.

Race and Racism

The purpose of this session is to provide the knowledge and understanding necessary to address issues of race and racism. Participants learn that race is a social construction, not biological. Examine racism from a historical perspective while also examining the different dimensions of racism and their impact on individuals, organizations, and communities.

Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring

The purpose of this session begins with a discussion on why every organization should care if their process for recruitment and hiring is inclusive. The course will define what inclusive recruitment and hiring is and how unconscious bias often shows up in the process. We will also identify best practices for ensuring an inclusive selection process from the job posting to onboarding.


While the intent of microaggressions is not usually to cause harm, the reality is that they do. Microaggressions reinforce underlying stereotypes or assumptions about marginalized. communities. In this session, we will define what microaggressions are, what they look like, why they are so harmful and how to address them.

Gender Inequality and Bias

There is a belief, among some, that women have obtained equality in the workplace. Yet, pay disparities continue between men and women and women still are nearly invisible in certain industries. This course looks at the nature of gender bias, how it affects relationships and decision-making in organizations and what we can do to dismantle gender inequality and bias in the workplace as well as our communities.

Partner Resources


VLCT has partnered with several other organizations to provide its members with advice on undertaking equity work. These include: 

Other Toolkits

Several organizations have issued equity toolkits. VLCT has been consulted or partnered in the creation of the following equity toolkits:


There are several Vermont organizations, including non-profit and for-profit consultants, that specialize in equity work. VLCT does not endorse the following organizations, but shares these resources to help communities better understand the landscape of resources:

Financial and Technical Assistance

Communities may be able to access financial and technical assistance to undertake equity work. 

The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), in cooperation with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the state of Vermont’s Office of Racial Equity, is seeking proposals from Vermont villages, towns, and cities that close the opportunity gap by supporting local efforts to foster inclusion and belonging for people of all races and backgrounds. VCF recognize the powerful leadership roles that local governments can play in removing structural barriers and building a more inclusive and diverse state, and wants to support communities in fulfilling that potential. This program will award grants of up to $10,000 for a 12-month project period.

IDEAL Vermont Initiative

“IDEAL” stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action, Leadership. IDEAL Vermont is a coalition of Vermont municipalities dedicated to advancing racial and other forms of equity across the state through shared learning and tangible action.