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Experience Management

Healing social inequality: How to start the conversation

The only way governments can dismantle the systems, policies, and procedures that perpetuate systemic racism is by strengthening the social capital within our communities.

Social issues such as racism, poverty, and discrimination are nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the shocking severity of these issues across the world. Consider this:

  • The world’s richest 1,000 people recouped their COVID-related losses in nine months, while it could take the poorest more than a decade to recover, according to CNN
  • The World Economic Forum says high-income nations (16% of the global population) have received 47% of the world’s supply of COVID vaccines. Low-income nations (9% of the global population) have received 0.2% of all the doses
  • The same study found 55% of all Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic were women, even though they represent less than half of the total workforce
  • In the U.S., 41% of Black-owned businesses failed, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses
  • Per 100,000 people, 564 Black people and 524 Latino people with COVID symptoms required hospitalization, compared to 215 Asian people and 262 white people, says

There is no denying that inequality exists and persists nearly everywhere. But the question is why?

Focus on the cause to ease the symptoms

Many governments have programs in place to counter these disparities, but they’re often ineffective because they don’t address the real root of the problem: systemic racism and a lack of social capital.

What is social capital?

Social capital – the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society – is considered both a glue and lubricant: It’s the glue that holds a society together and the lubricant that facilitates collaboration and productivity. Social capital is an important variable in nearly every aspect of a society’s success, including economic strength, academic achievement, public health, crime levels, employment rates, and more.

The only way governments can dismantle the systems, policies, and procedures that perpetuate systemic racism is by strengthening the social capital within our communities.

“Governments in communities with high social capital perform 20% better than governments in communities with lower social capital. ”

Stephen Knack, American Journal of Political Science

Listen to the voice of your community

The good news is that the path to stronger, more equitable communities begins with the simple act of conversing. By asking the right questions, truly listening to the answers, and using that input to develop a strategic framework, government leaders can begin to build trust – the foundation of social capital.

It starts with smart, deliberate questions that can help you understand what your citizens feel, think, want, and need. Questions should revolve around topics like health behaviors, access to public services, opinions of leadership, and communication preferences.

This approach invites everyday people into the government decision-making process, which helps foster inclusion and equality while informing policy change and program development.

The ability to engage citizens effectively, process their feedback efficiently, and extract actionable insights from those answers is critical. Together, you and your citizens can advance social capital in a realistic and tangible way.

Need support? We can help you...

  • Connect with your community

Create easier ways to engage with residents, whether you’re conducting outreach activities, inviting collaboration on policy decisions, or developing shared leadership models.

  • Incorporate best practices for equity and inclusion

Generate targeted content that enables residents to find what they need quickly. Optimize digital self-service channels to reduce cost and time to serve for both residents and employees.

  • Become inclusive by design

Serve at-risk communities, individuals with limited access to technology, and multilingual populations with personalized messaging across multiple outreach methods like email and text.

Learn how to promote inclusion with our free Diversity, Equity & Inclusion eBook

Vince Vu // Government Strategic Industry Advisor

Vince Vu is a strategic industry advisor at Qualtrics, focusing on state and local government. He advises government agencies and organizations on effective XM programming, including design, survey design/assessment, resourcing, and change management. Prior to joining Qualtrics, Vince managed research and data analytics teams in multiple government settings at the city, county, and state levels. Vince earned his masters in Public Policy, specializing in advanced policy analysis.

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