As a department, the Providence Human Relations Commission celebrates and elevates Providence’s diverse cultural communities; facilitates workshops and trainings to support civil rights education; ensures discrimination complaints are investigated and adjudicated properly; advocates for policies that codify and protect the civil rights of Providence residents; and supports the work of two boards and commissions that preside over discrimination hearings and pay equity. Read on below to learn more about the department’s work and new initiatives.
Protection of Rights
The Providence Human Relations Commission is responsible for the enforcement of the City’s municipal anti-discrimination ordinances, ensuring discrimination complaints are investigated and adjudicated to their full extent through an ongoing partnership with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. Discrimination threatens the welfare of our community and undermines our ability to thrive as a diverse city. If you feel that you have been illegally discriminated against, please call the Commission at 401-421-2489.
In addition to municipal anti-discrimination protections, the Commission works collaboratively with other city departments to expand access and ensure equity in the delivery of city services. Recently, the Commission has worked with the Department of Operations and Department of Public Works to improve infrastructure accessibility city-wide. The Commission has also built out a language access strategy to expand access to city services for residents whose primary language may not be English, purchasing interpretation equipment, building out a community interpretation framework, and developing a language access toolkit to support city departments in building capacity. Stay tuned on the language toolkit!
In addition to enforcing the City’s existing anti-discrimination protections, the Providence Human Relations Commission is actively engaged in advocating for policy changes that better and more equitably protect Providence residents at both the State and city levels. Read more about the Commission’s most recent legislative session below:
As a department, the Providence Human Relations Commission participates in the municipal budgeting and audit process on an annual basis, as well as in cross-departmental process-improvement led by the Administration. In addition, the department supports the work of the Providence Human Relations Commission’s board of commissioners and the city’s Equal Pay Task Force. Learn more about the boards below:
* Providence Human Relations Commission:
- Impaneled in 1963, the Commission’s goal is to foster mutual understanding and respect among the city’s diverse populations, and ensure equal opportunities for all Providence residents in housing, education, employment, credit, and public accommodations by combating discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or country of ancestral origin.
* Equal Pay Task Force:
- The City of Providence Equal Pay Task Force was impaneled in 2017, per City of Providence Code of Ordinances §16-85. It is staffed by the Providence Human Relations Commission Director, with the Commission Chair and Vice-Chair retaining permanent seats. Formed in 2017, the Task Force seeks to study best practices, collect relevant data and make policy recommendations to the offices of the Mayor and City Council, to advance pay equity City-wide.
In addition to outreach, the PHRC puts on educational programming educating constituents about their rights, and supporting capacity building in city government to expand access and equity priorities. This year, the PHRC hosted the Equal Pay Task Force, Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, and Economic Progress Institute for a dialogue and policy briefing on Equal Pay Day; partnered with the Providence Housing Authority to organize a series of trainings on the Housing Choice Voucher Program for neighborhood associations to launch in the fall; partnered with TGI Network of Rhode Island to sponsor gender-diversity training for the Judiciary, Solicitor’s Office, department directors, and the Providence Human Relations Commission’s board of commissioners; and is working with AMOR to bring community interpretation training to multilingual staff City-wide. Stay tuned for the announcement of additional training opportunities in the Commission’s News Page.
As part of its mandate to expand positive community relations, the Providence Human Relations Commission works to build new relationships with community leaders and organizations, celebrate Providence’s diverse cultural communities, and cultivate meaningful and authentic engagement by centering community voice. This year, the PHRC hosted a City-wide Native American Heritage Month Celebration, Transgender Day of Remembrance Ceremony, Women’s History Month Celebration, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration, and Pan-African Heritage Celebration. Be on the lookout for more events by searching for the PHRC on the City Calendar.