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About This Work

Striving toward making Tulsa a better place for all
Tulsa’s unique history helps define who we are as a city today. Many of the indicators presented in this report have roots in that history. Long before Tulsa became a formal city, particular groups of Tulsans have had to endure oppressive people, policies, laws, institutions and overall systems that have hindered or prevented them from not only reaching their goals but having the opportunities to seek them out. Key examples of events and practices that contribute to that oppression include the Trail of Tears of the 1830s, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and redlining practices beginning in the 1930s which prevented many African American families from buying homes in Tulsa. These are just a few of the countless events, practices, policies, laws and whole systems of oppression that have plagued particular groups of Tulsans historically, and that continue to create disparities and barriers today.

The City of Tulsa strives to eliminate disparities and barriers that hinder equitable opportunities and outcomes for all Tulsans. The first step toward reaching this goal is to identify and measure inequalities that prevent some Tulsans from thriving. The next step is to use that information to guide public policy and innovative solutions that lead to equitable opportunities and outcomes.

How do we measure equality in Tulsa?
In 2017, to answer this question, the City of Tulsa and the Community Service Council created a longitudinal, data-based framework to identify inequalities, to measure their impact, and to track progress in reducing or eliminating them—the Tulsa Equality Indicators. Since then, six annual reports have been released, and the Tulsa Area United Way is now partnering with the City of Tulsa to prepare the reports.

How are the data used?
The report’s findings enable city and community leaders to identify the city’s greatest challenges to equity, and then to apply that data to the development of policies and solutions that will make progress towards being a city where all residents have equitable opportunities to thrive.

Why do we use the term equality instead of equity?
Readers may be wondering why the term “equality” is used instead of “equity” for the title of this report. This choice was not made without great consideration. Although the two terms are similar and sometimes used interchangeably, they represent different concepts.

In the simplest of terms, “equality” refers to a state in which everyone is treated equally, and everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equality would be achieved when everyone receives equal amounts of goods and services, or everyone is offered the same opportunity to do something. The problem with equality is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that different individuals need different amounts and types of goods and services, and different levels of opportunity based on individual abilities and circumstances, in order to make equal outcomes even possible. Having equal resources and equal opportunities does not equate to fairness.

“Equity” refers to a state in which every person receives the amount of goods, services, or supports that they specifically require to accomplish a particular outcome. Equity is achieved not when everyone receives an equal amount of something but rather when every individual receives the right amount based on their specific circumstances. Having equitable resources and equitable opportunities does equate to fairness.

Achieving equity for all is a goal towards which Tulsa is striving. However, the scope of this report does not make possible the depth of analysis necessary to fully assess the levels of equity or inequity present for various groups of Tulsans. Rather, this report is intended to provide an assessment of equality among Tulsans, which is necessary to develop equitable solutions and achieve equity for all.

In an effort to be more mindful of limitations of showing individual-level disparity data, we have added a greater level of context in the narrative of this year’s Tulsa Equality Indicators report about the impact of factors that act as structural and institutional barriers to successful outcomes. These discussions are by no means comprehensive in their analyses of past and present systemic forces weighing on individuals’ access to opportunities and outcomes, but hopefully they shed some light on the existence and persistence of such forces.

Tulsa Equality Indicators is organized into six focus areas or themes: Economic Opportunity, Education, Housing, Justice, Public Health, and Services.

Tulsa Equality Indicators includes a set of 54 indicators, organized into six broad themes: economic opportunity, education, Housing, Justice, Public Health, and Services. The selection of indicators is community-driven and intentionally distributed evenly across the six themes. The indicators are not intended as a comprehensive list of all inequalities experienced by Tulsans, but rather as a representative sample.

Equality indicators are a type of indicator that is a comparison of two groups, typically most and least disadvantaged, on a given issue. As the gap between these two groups decreases, equality increases.

How are Equality Indicators unique? Social indicators are measures of social conditions that do not explicitly compare one group to another. Social indicators provide important and familiar metrics (e.g., unemployment rate) and are useful data points for understanding the well-being or status or a community. Equality Indicators, on the other hand, go a step further to provide comparative data about subgroups within a community (e.g., comparison of unemployment rates for males vs. females).

  • Social Indicator: Unemployment rate
  • Equality Indicator: The ratio between the unemployment rates of (a) Males and (b) Females
  • To view scores and data for each indicator, go to the Index page. For complete list of all data sources and years used, please visit the Sources page.