Equity & Anti-Racism in the Workplace Policy

Library Board approved September 26, 2023.


This policy supports Oak Park Public Library’s efforts to become an equitable and anti-racist organization. We understand the need to create an environment with accountability for what we do within our work and public service environment. Thus, in 2021, the Board of Library Trustees approved the library’s first Anti-Racism Strategic Plan (ARSP). The safety of historically, intentionally, and traditionally marginalized people groups (HITMPGs) is at the foundation of the ARSP and this policy. 

The ARSP and this policy are preliminary steps of an ongoing effort to become an equitable and anti-racist organization. By no means does this work end with the ARSP or this policy, but they are foundational in dismantling any inequities and racism that exist in institutions and systems of power. 

This living document may be updated or amended over time, with the board approving the amendments. It is intended to be effective and compassionate. If you have any feedback, please contact Human Resources or the Director of Equity & Anti-Racism with any questions, comments, or concerns. 

Defining Equity and Anti-Racism


In a diverse workplace, differences exist, and people require support in different ways. Equity asks us to acknowledge that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities. People from marginalized groups often face more barriers when accessing resources and opportunities than those from dominant or more privileged groups. In a diverse organization, equity-inspired design identifies barriers and inequities and helps to elevate the people on the margins to an equal playing field. 


The active process of identifying, addressing, and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies, practices, and behaviors that would otherwise foster it. 

The library understands there is no legal definition of racism and thus asks that you please refer to the library’s definitions to understand better what specific terms mean within the context of our library’s culture. 

The library acknowledges four types of racism: internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural. By acknowledging them, the library also understands their unconscious, implicit, or unintentional nature. We also acknowledge that involvement in a racist act does not mean an individual is a racist or has malicious intentions. 

As an equitable and anti-racist organization, we purposely identify, discuss, and challenge issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and racism and their impact on our staff, library, and the greater community. We also will work to ensure that incidents of inequities and racism involving any staff member, intern, patron, volunteer, contractor, vendor, trustee, or other third parties are not tolerated.

Rights and Responsibilities

Directors, Managers, and Supervisory Staff 

Supervisory positions have a unique responsibility within the library to ensure staff members feel safe, supported, and able to work in an environment conducive to productivity and professional development. All supervisory positions are responsible for working with Human Resources to report and responsibly handle complaints or reports of inequitable or racist behavior. 

Any director, manager, or supervisory staff made aware of a complaint, concern, or other information relevant to an incident, policy, or practice involving racism or other inequitable conduct must contact Human Resources as soon as practicable. If managers personally observe misconduct, they can take action directly—intervening and warning that the conduct is inappropriate—but must also notify Human Resources as soon as possible. 


The person making the complaint (the Complainant) typically has a right to: 

  • Make a complaint and receive a copy of the complaint; 
  • Be informed of the status and progress of the investigation; 
  • Have an opportunity to use restorative justice to mitigate the harm caused; 
  • Be informed of a summary of the results of the investigation; 
  • Not be subject to retaliation; and 
  • Withdraw a complaint at any time during the procedure; however, depending upon the nature and severity of the allegations, the library’s Executive Director may determine that an investigation is required, and the process will continue despite the withdrawal. 


  • The person whom the complaint is about (the Respondent) typically has the right to:
  • Be informed that a complaint has been filed; 
  • Be informed of the status and progress of the investigation; 
  • Have the allegations investigated by an experienced and knowledgeable investigator (which potentially includes a third-party independent investigator); 
  • Be informed of the allegations against them and be provided an opportunity to respond; and
  • Be informed of a summary of the results of the investigation. 


A Bystander is a person who is present at an event or incident as a non-participant. A Bystander is responsible for cooperating in good faith with all those responsible for investigating the complaint. Bystanders have the right not to be subject to retaliation for their participation as witnesses. 


The investigator, if engaged under the process referred to in the Complaint Process (below), will typically:

  • Have experience regarding the matters covered in this policy; 
  • Ensure the Respondent is informed of the allegations; 
  • Ensure all parties involved have been informed of their rights and responsibilities;
  • Interview the parties concerned, including any Bystanders; 
  • Collect all pertinent information;
  • Prepare a written report to include the details and facts of the investigation;
  • Ensure the investigation is completed in a timely fashion, taking into account particular circumstances; and 
  • Maintain confidentiality consistent with the library’s legal obligations and the necessity to investigate complaints and take corrective action. 

Review Process, Requirements & Procedures

Complaint Process

Complaints may be made at any time. Complainants can be assured their complaints will be received, taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and addressed responsibly and respectfully. Complaints will be kept confidential, consistent with the library’s legal obligations to thoroughly investigate the allegations and take corrective action. The investigation will be conducted and concluded within a reasonable timeframe. 


Any individual, including but not limited to Respondents and Bystanders, found to have engaged in, or known about and taken no action to report or stop, racial discrimination or racist or other inequitable behavior may be subject to appropriate action depending on the severity of the misconduct. The range of appropriate action may include, but is not limited to being: 

  • Required to issue an oral and/or written apology; 
  • Subject to an appropriate administrative change (i.e., position change, no contact for a time period, temporary or permanent changes to reporting structures or work assignments);
  • Required to participate in restorative justice
  • Required to attend counseling; 
  • Required to attend training or education; 
  • Reorientated to this policy and its purpose; 
  • Subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment; and 
  • Subject to termination of contract for service or of a volunteer opportunity. 

If the Respondent is not a staff member, the supervising staff will take all steps reasonably necessary to remedy the substantiated complaint and to protect the Complainant and others from future harm. 

Unsubstantiated Complaints

If the library finds insufficient evidence to support the Complainant’s allegations, there will be no record of the complaint in the Complainant’s or Respondent’s main personnel file and no corrective action issued concerning the incident. A finding of no evidence simply reflects an absence of evidence to support the claim and nothing more. 

No Retaliation

Any individual who retaliates against another for exercising their rights under this policy shall be subject to discipline, up to and including termination. Protection extends to any retaliatory action that is related, in any way, against a Complainant (or person closely related to or associated with the Complainant), Bystander, Respondent, or staff member(s) who, in good faith:

  • Makes a complaint alleging inequities, racial discrimination, or racism; 
  • Identifies or opposes a practice that they reasonably believe to constitute inequities, racial discrimination, or racism; or 
  • Implements or participates in an internal investigation. 


*Internalized racism: This type of racism comprises our private beliefs and biases about race and racism, influenced by our culture. This can take many different forms, including prejudice toward others of a different race; internalized oppression—the negative beliefs about oneself by people of color; or internalized privilege—beliefs about the superiority or entitlement of white people. 

*Interpersonal racism (personally mediated): Occurs between individuals. This is the bias that occurs when individuals interact with others and their personal racial beliefs affect their public interactions. 

*Institutional racism: Occurs within institutions and systems of power. This refers to the unfair policies and discriminatory practices of particular institutions (schools, workplaces, government, etc.) that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people of color and advantages for white people. Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they reinforce racial inequities. 

Racism: A global system of people who mistreat others based on race. Racism involves one group having the power to systematically discriminate through the shaping of history, policies, laws, cultural beliefs, and values that support the mistreatment of others. 

Racism is not:

  • Personality conflicts 
  • Voicing opinions or views about the workplace 
  • Sharing personal, situational experiences 
  • Disciplinary action taken following our policies 

Restorative justice: A theory of practice that emphasizes and creates space where every voice is heard. The practice is considered reactive, and when harm is done, the aim is to repair the holistic well-being of the people harmed, the person who caused the harm, and the communities impacted by an offense and to ultimately prevent recurrences of harm. Restorative practices are the tools and methods used to promote restorative justice ideology. Restorative practices focus on proactively identifying ways to strengthen relationships between individuals and the communities to which they belong. 

*Structural racism: Racial bias among institutions and across society. This involves the cumulative and compounding effects of an array of societal factors, including the history, culture, ideology, and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color. 

*Adapted from Race Forward

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