Social equity is often named as the fourth pillar of public administration, along with economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. Social equity, which addresses fairness, justice and equity for all, is tremendously relevant today.
Our nation’s Founders identified social equity as an imperative in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
The coronavirus pandemic and the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others have highlighted widespread inequities and disparities in our society, and shown us that much remains to be done to accomplish our Founders’ vision of a nation where all of us are equal.
Government can lose the consent of the governed. In cities across America today, we see what happens when the contract between law enforcement and the public breaks down. We must repair that relationship in a way that ensures a safe and civil society while protecting human rights and fostering social equity. The National Academy of Public Administration reaffirms its commitment to equity and diversity, and supports a positive agenda for reform like the one put forward by The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
Throughout the month of June, the Academy will focus on one of the key Grand Challenges in Public Administration – “Foster Social Equity.” We hope to not only promote discussion that increases understanding of the root causes of social inequity, but also to provoke steps that can move us toward a more equitable society for the future. We invite others in the public administration arena – Fellows, government leaders, academics, and organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors – to join us in this very important conversation.
Teresa W. Gerton
President and Chief Executive Officer