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Posted on: October 6, 2020

Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights & Community Relations announces results of inclusiveness survey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Results from a survey conducted by the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights earlier this year asking respondents to share their views on inclusiveness in the Springfield area are now available. 

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The survey received 2,276 responses, with about 12% (249) responding that they felt Springfield is “very inclusive.” Nearly 40% of the respondents (812) indicated that they felt Springfield is “somewhat inclusive.” Nearly 32% (646) indicated that they felt Springfield is “not very inclusive.” About 13% (267) indicated that they felt Springfield is “not inclusive.” Sixty-three respondents, or 3%, indicated they had no opinion. 

“Sharing the results of this Inclusion Survey is a way the commission can shed light on issues that may be holding back inclusive change and leadership, including concerns about racism, discrimination and belonging that impact citizens in Springfield,” says Heather Hardinger, chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights. “This new data can serve as an informational launching-point to educate on the value of diversity in the community, help area leaders make data-informed decisions that impact business, and hopefully inspire all of us to take meaningful action in making equity and inclusion a top priority.”  

According to a qualitative analysis and report prepared by Missouri State University Professor Emerita Gloria J. Galanes, Ph.D., responses exposed a variety of attitudes related to Springfield’s inclusiveness. It is hoped that the attitudes and stories revealed by the survey will be used to help Springfield plan its next steps toward creating a stronger, more inclusive community. Most respondents supported making Springfield more inclusive and noted that the city’s homogeneity can make inclusiveness difficult. Comments suggested a number of things to increase inclusiveness.  

“One important way to strengthen the city and increase inclusiveness is simply by having a more diverse population, with increased minority visibility at all levels – leadership with the schools, city government, nonprofit organizations and boards, and so forth. Respondents called for more diversity of all kinds (racial, ethnic, age-related, class, sex, gender, sexual orientation and disability). Along with providing more diversity at all levels, respondents said that the city needs to solicit the opinions of diverse members and actually listen to those opinions,” according to the report.

Many respondents called for more diverse leadership in all segments of Springfield’s society: government, education, health care, the nonprofit world, business, and organizations of all kinds.

Education and training were seen as essential to overcoming the prejudice and ignorance about diversity that many respondents perceive. There was support for designing opportunities that allow diverse citizens to get to know and appreciate one another. Such opportunities could include events and festivals as well as programs designed to increase sensitivity to others. Education about other cultures/ways of living, developing and showing appreciation for diverse cultures, and getting to know one another’s personal stories all serve to strengthen the community and support inclusion. There was also support for helping members of the majority community know how to deal with comments and actions they perceive as hostile or non-inclusive. 

Methodology

The survey was distributed electronically and via paper copies. It included several closed-ended questions and eight open-ended questions: 

  • Question 1: What do you think would make Springfield a stronger, more inclusive community?
  • Question 2: Respondents were first asked, in a closed question, whether they had experienced barriers to participating fully in the Springfield community. They were then asked, if you have experienced barriers to fully participating in the Springfield community, please share the top three barriers you have faced.
  •  Question 3: If you have personally felt, at any time, that you were not valued based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability or age (40+), please share your experience.
  • Question 4: If you or someone you know has experienced an incident of unlawful hostility or discrimination, based on race, color , religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age (40+), please share that experience.
  • Question 5: If you have personally witnessed an incident of hostility or discrimination directed at somebody else based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age (40+), please share that experience.  
  • Question 6: Please use the following space for anything else you’d like to share about your experiences.
  • Question 7: What activities could the Springfield  community offer to encourage a more welcoming environment for all cultures? 
  • Question 8: Any additional comments or suggestions you have to share?

A link to the survey was sent electronically to numerous service clubs and nonprofit organizations and posted on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, Instagram and Reddit). Press releases encouraging participation were sent out throughout the survey period.

Individuals receiving the survey were encouraged to share it with others. Postcards describing the survey, with information about how to access and complete it, were distributed to attendees of the Springfield Multicultural Festival.  

The electronic version of the survey used Qualtrics software, was prepared by Zone 4 Councilman and OTC researcher Matt Simpson. A Spanish version of the survey was also available. Paper copies were available at Springfield-Greene County Library District branches.  

Dr. Galanes’ Analysis Process

  • Each question was analyzed separately
  • Read/re-read the responses to each question
  • Identified major themes
  • Color-coded according to themes
  • Identified common or particularly compelling comments 

Key Findings

  • More than 300 pages of qualitative responses.
  • 12% (249) responding that they felt Springfield is “very inclusive.”
  • Nearly 40% of the respondents (812) indicated that they felt Springfield is “somewhat inclusive.”
  • Nearly 32% (646) indicated that they felt Springfield is “not very inclusive.”
  • About 13% (267) indicated that they felt Springfield is “not inclusive.” Sixty-three respondents, or 3%, indicated they had no opinion. 

Key Recommendations Summarized

  • Large percentage of responses: “I don’t discriminate and I don’t think others do.”  This group is reachable.
  • Explain why diversity/inclusion are important.
  • Multi-pronged approach is necessary.
  • All key players must be involved:
    • Strong statements of support
    • Inclusive language
    • Diversification of leadership and staff
    • Leadership visibility at diversity events
    • Accountability/transparency

Demographics of respondents

Demographically, regarding race/ethnicity, respondents were Asian, 42 (1.76%); Black/African American, 96 (4.02%); White, 1977 (88.72%); Hispanic/Latino, 76 (3.18%); Native American, 73 (3.05%); Pacific Islander, 5 (.21%), and other, 44 (1.84%), with 77 (3.22) preferring not to answer. In terms of sex, 1,359 (59.84%) were female; 811 (35.71%) were male;  48 (2.11%) preferred not to answer; and 53 (2.3%) answered “other” (primarily non-binary, gender non-confirming, trans, and questioning). Regarding age, 138 (6.08%) were 18-24; 809 (35.65%) were 25-39; 780 (34.38%) were 40-59; 495 (21.82%) were 60+; and 47 (2.07%) preferred not to answer.  

Regarding location, respondents came from Zone 1 (Northwest), 279 (12.26%); Zone 2 (Northeast), 367 (16.12%); Zone 3 (Southwest), 432 (18.98); Zone 4 (Southeast), 517 (22.72%); Outside city limits, 640 (28.12%); and there were 41 (1.8%) who were not sure. 

Mayor Ken McClure addressed diversity and inclusion in his 2019 State of the City Address, commenting that they go hand-in-hand with employers’ ability to attract and retain quality employees.

“In order to recruit and retain the best and the brightest, we must also commit to ensuring Springfield is inclusive and welcoming. This can only be achieved in an environment that fosters mutual respect of all people. It is the right thing to do,” he said.

Springfield City Council has requested that City staff organize a series of listening sessions in October and November, to gather input about race relations and other pressing topics. These sessions are in addition to the City’s participation in  “Tough Talks” a series of community conversations organized by a local collaborative. ERacism: Action Toward Positive Change kicked off at prosperspringfield.org on Oct. 1. A follow-up talk takes place on Oct. 15. In addition, the City of Springfield has also commissioned a quantitative citywide survey on a variety of issues related to inclusivity, race relations and other pertinent topics to be administered before the end of the calendar year.

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About the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations

Appointed by the mayor for three-year terms, the seven-member commission’s purpose is to foster mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious and ethnic groups of the City and provide community recourse for discriminatory acts. The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in the first-floor conference room of the Busch Municipal Building, 840 N. Boonville. 

Current Commissioners

  • Heather Hardinger, Chair
  • Carlye Wannenmacher, Vice Chair
  • Mary Bozarth
  • Pamela Hernandez
  • Mike Jungers
  • Daniel Ogunyemi
  • Bob Roberts 

For more information, contact Heather Hardinger, Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights & Community Relations, at hhardinger@springfieldmo.gov or Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or cscott@springfieldmo.gov.

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