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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26230.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26230.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26230.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26230.

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1   Over the past several decades, organizations throughout the United States have grown more conscious of the benefits and necessity of diverse and inclusive workplaces. Practices and opportunities once unheard of—such as equity assessments, chief diversity officer positions, gender-neutral facilities, and implicit bias training—are now commonplace. The sociopolitical landscape of the country has hastened this progress. For example, protests in 2020 over social and racial injustice sparked public declarations by large organizations (including transit agencies) in support of social equity. These circumstances also led to a 50% increase in diversity and inclusion job postings on career sites (McGregor 2020). Diversity and inclusion are widely seen as key elements in nurturing healthy and effective workplaces. Much of this research project was performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely affected transit agency ridership and finances and led to large lay-offs for some transit agencies, as discussed in Appendix B of this report. COVID-19’s long-term effects on diversity and inclusion efforts in public transportation are not clear. While some studies funded by the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) have included aspects of diversity and inclusion, TCRP’s last comprehensive review of diversity programs utilized by transit agencies, TCRP Synthesis 46: Diversity Training Initiatives, was published in 2003 (Simpson 2003). That report examined diversity training initiatives in transit agencies through literature review, surveys, and case examples. The study focused on employment and workforce initiatives. The present study built on the snapshot of diversity initiatives in transit agencies pro- vided nearly 20 years ago in TCRP Synthesis 46 to understand how diversity programs at transit agencies have evolved; how inclusion has been incorporated; and what policies, plans, and practices have successfully been implemented within the industry. The research team contacted 12 of the 13 transit agencies that participated in TCRP Synthesis 46 and examined the current state of diversity in these agencies. Rather than focusing solely on diversity in employment, this study used a broader framework to assess diversity and inclusion efforts in the workforce and procurement and in how transit agencies serve their communities. The research presented here focuses on providing • A general description of measures employed by transit agencies to address diversity and inclusion (including how widely they are used), • An exploration of innovative and emerging practices, and • Identification of barriers or constraints that may influence the effectiveness of particular initiatives. S U M M A R Y Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry

2 Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry This report also serves as a resource guide for public transit agencies of different types and sizes seeking to implement or improve diversity and inclusion programs. It provides information with which transit agencies can compare their efforts with those of their peers and measure progress and also includes checklists and resources to guide the efforts of transit agency managers. As diversity and inclusion become embedded in the policies, operations, and cultures in the public transportation industry, it is advantageous for transit agencies to share strategies and information and to support more research on equity-related topics in the industry. Doing so encourages improvements within the industry to identify and address systemic and structural disparities. The conclusion of this report provides several paths for inter- agency knowledge sharing and future equity research. Research Objectives This research project had five primary objectives: • Evaluate the current state of diversity and inclusion practices, including identification of any gaps in programs, and provide recommendations as to how public transit agencies can perform program assessments within their organizations. • Examine how diversity and inclusion policies have been successfully implemented and define methods for public transit agencies to develop goals and objectives. • Generate industry-based definitions of diversity and inclusion. • Explore the legal landscape related to diversity and inclusion in public transportation. • Develop a resource toolkit that provides recommendations on how to (a) apply the research findings and (b) identify impacts associated with implementation of a diversity and inclusion program. Key Research Conclusions To address these primary objectives, the research team conducted interviews with 12 transit agencies across the country, performed case studies of these transit agencies, and reviewed existing research. Eleven themes emerged during information analysis: 1. Federal law requires transit agencies to ensure nondiscrimination and equity across all aspects of their operations. There are also federal requirements for inclusion. Compliance-related diversity can be a means of measuring progress toward equity and inclusion and may result in improved decision-making, enhanced service to communi- ties, and improvements in other aspects of business operations. (Appendix A summa- rizes federal legal requirements and important federal and state legal constraints pertaining to nondiscrimination and equity at transit agencies.) 2. As compliance issues, equity, diversity, and inclusion are not new concerns for transit agencies. Many federal requirements affect transit agencies. Some transit agencies struggle to achieve and maintain compliance, while others exceed them. Because most have been in place for decades, there is a long history of transit agency efforts to comply with those requirements. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued circulars that guide transit agencies on what they must do to be compliant and, in recent years, has produced training materials on topics including equal employment opportunity (EEO), Title VI, disadvantaged business enterprises, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 3. Some transit agencies go above and beyond “check-the-box” compliance. They incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion into the culture of how staff interact with

Summary 3   one another, work with the communities they serve, and make decisions as an organi- zation. For some transit agencies, this shift occurred during the past 3 to 4 years but predated the events of 2020. (Appendix C reviews results from interviews with 37 staff from these transit agencies.) 4. Some transit agencies include sexual orientation, different mental and physical abilities, young adults, and ex-offenders in their definitions of diversity and inclu- sion, going beyond characteristics such as race/ethnicity and national origin. For many organizations, diversity and inclusion practices have moved beyond putting people in buckets to building a culture in which everyone is appreciated for who they are and encouraged to bring their whole selves to work. This is seen as a less exclusionary approach that includes all employees, which may contribute to long-term success. In light of the literature review, interviews, case study findings, and transit agency policies, as well as of the understanding that a transit agency’s concepts of diversity and inclusivity must address a broad audience (i.e., staff, customers, the community, and businesses), the research team defines “diversity” in transit as a workforce; collection of vendors; and served groups with unique characteristics, thoughts, and expe- riences who reflect their communities. Characteristics, thoughts, and experiences include categories dictated by law as well as family structure, life experience, communication style, and learning style. The research team defines “inclusion” in transit agencies as an active cultivation of an organizational culture that promotes a sense of belonging, equity, and collaboration among all employees, vendors, and communities served and the utilization of these unique differences to the benefit of the agency and all individuals involved. 5. Large transit agencies have many of the same governmental responsibilities as municipalities, from real estate development and local business support to policing and serving homeless populations, each with implications for equity, diversity, and inclusion. For example, transit agencies building new rail lines can dislocate minority or low-income populations, affect small businesses, and change the accessibility of jobs for disadvantaged workers. To ensure socioeconomic and environmental accountability, transit agencies must involve diverse communities in these decisions. For some transit agencies, these issues may be as pressing as increasing the diversity of the agency’s workforce. 6. Diversity and inclusion are not only incorporated in staff management practices or community outreach. Purchasing and contracting practices are another operating function in which transit agencies address diversity and inclusion, specifically through supplier diversity programs on federally and non-federally-funded contracts. Appendix D examines efforts in procurement, service provision, and other activities to encourage diversity. 7. Transit agencies tend to use multiple, concurrent programs and initiatives to address diversity and inclusion beyond legal compliance, which can increase effectiveness. Strategies include purposeful implementation of programs at all organizational levels (i.e., leadership, management, and general staff levels); use of diversity and inclusion committees that are employee driven rather than leadership driven; consistent training tailored to the workforce and served community; and retention of an external diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant to guide transit agency efforts. More steps are outlined in this report. 8. Transit agencies have a host of diversity and inclusion resources at their fingertips. Many organizations, associations, and academic institutions related and unrelated to public transportation have begun to produce equity-related materials that are appli- cable to transit agencies. The section on staff management and procurement resources in Chapter 6 lists and reviews some of these resources.

4 Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry 9. Attempting to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion is difficult and sometimes unsuccessful. Transit agencies face many barriers. For example, there are some types of jobs for which transit agencies report little progress in improving diversity, especially for female employees (e.g., electrical transit mechanic positions). Some transit agency representatives reported that diversity and inclusion initiatives are impeded by logistical barriers, such as lack of access to computers for completion of web-based training among frontline drivers and conductors. Other issues reported by interviewees are highlighted in Chapter 5. 10. To date, TRB has not conducted research that focuses on equity in procurement for transit agencies [unlike state departments of transportation (DOTs) and airports]. The research team’s literature review (Appendix B) relied on other sources for both pro- curement and service provision. The case studies in Appendix D provide a starting point for future examination of equity in transit procurement. 11. Diversity and inclusion in the public transportation industry is a relatively new field of study. There are numerous avenues for future researchers to examine. To remain current in methodology, scope, line of inquiry, and analysis, transit-focused researchers must closely follow the progress of diversity, equity, and inclusion studies performed outside of the transit industry and coordinate their research accordingly. Report, Toolkit, and Resources This report presents research findings and conclusions in three parts. Part I presents the research, methodology, and results regarding the context of diversity and inclusion in public transportation. This part contains the following chapters: • Chapter 1: Laws and Requirements, • Chapter 2: Literature on Diversity and Inclusion, • Chapter 3: Results of Interviews and Case Studies, • Chapter 4: Definitions of Diversity and Inclusion, and • Chapter 5: Summary of Gaps and Constraints Affecting Implementation of Diversity and Inclusion. Part II outlines resources for improving diversity and inclusion at transit agencies, including a series of checklists that can be used to track progress and suggested future paths for research on diversity and inclusion in the public transportation industry. Part II contains the following chapters: • Chapter 6: Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit and Recommendations, • Chapter 7: Implementation of Diversity and Inclusion Programs, and • Chapter 8: Conclusion. The report’s findings and conclusions are based on a literature review, interviews, case studies, and other research. Part III contains a list of acronyms, a bibliography and the following four appendices: • Appendix A: Legal Requirements, • Appendix B: Literature Review, • Appendix C: Interviews with Transit Agencies, and • Appendix D: Case Studies of Transit Agency Efforts.

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Many transit agencies are striving to improve diversity and inclusion. They continue to initiate and sustain programs and develop more innovative strategies.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 228: Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry builds on the snapshot of transit agency diversity initiatives provided nearly 20 years ago in TCRP Synthesis 46: Diversity Training Initiatives to understand how diversity programs at transit agencies have evolved, how inclusion has been incorporated, and what policies, plans, and practices have been successfully implemented within the industry.

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