Rooney Rule, Blind Auditions & More…

havmaIt’s been an exciting couple of weeks with ELGL’s ongoing efforts to improve the measly 13 percent of women who serve in local government CAO roles.  Here’s a recap of some of the cool things we’ve learned and some of the opportunities that are on the horizon.

We also want to hear from you – so we’ve created a sign up so columns about #13Percent can continue every week through 2015.  While some organizations prefer to talk about this issue amongst themselves, we want to bust down the walls of the topic and get everyone involved.

Rooney Rule

hawjtMartha Perego is ICMA’s resident expert on ethics, and has been a great friend to ELGL. During our recent webinar on the ICMA report on women in the profession, Martha brought up the idea that local governments should institute the “Rooney Rule” during recruitments.  (We like Martha even more now that we know she’s also an NFL fan…)  The Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.  Applying the Rooney Rule to local government manager recruitments would require inclusion of a minority (gender or race) in the interview stage.  

We reached out to our friend Ron Holifield at SGR (Ron’s the OG of local government recruitment and management consulting) about this idea and he was 100% on board with the concept, but reminded us that the governing bodies select the interview pools, so instituting the Rooney Rule in local government would not be an imposition on the recruiter, but there would also need to be buy-in from the elected officials.

So this brings us back to our original premise that we need to find ways to engage elected officials and organizations like the National League of Cities and the US Association of Mayors in the conversations about #13Percent and big ideas.  What are your big hairy audacious goals for engaging these organizations on this topic?

Blind Auditions

hax01Also during our #13Percent webinar, we had the chance to hear from Heidi Voorhees (now a TWO TIME Knope of the Week award winner) about her big hairy audacious goal for improving the #13Percent number.  She referenced how when orchestras implemented blind auditions (where the reviewers couldn’t see the gender or race of the musicians), the rates of non white musicians soared.

People on the webinar were intrigued by this idea, and Heidi said that she’s committed to finding a client who might be interested in trying this approach (at least up until the interview phase.  It would get mighty creepy if local govs started using voice altering software during interviews, like on Dateline).

On the call, we further learned from Jeff Towery that Springfield, OR uses a variation of blind applications for hiring.  It’s interesting to hear that this is possible and we want to hear from more of our members about this concept – is your organization using a variation of blind hiring?  And if so, how’s it working?  What could improve it?


hax56We’re building a coalition of voices on this topic – we heard from Kent Wyatt about expanding this conversation to include race, and we heard from Rafael Baptista about including elected officials in the discussion.  Don’t forget that we’re building out this coalition – so sign up today and we’ll help you become an ELGL blogger.

We also started the “1984” column to find out where our members were in 1984, the first time the #13percent statistic was identified (and sadly, the marker from which we’ve made zero progress).

Time for Some Action

hax8zWe have a big week coming up – first, a Twittersation (that’s a Twitter conversation) using the hashtag #13Percent to discuss these issues on Tuesday.

Then, an in-person luncheon in Portland with local government leaders who will talk specifically about work-life balance (which we’re finding is a huge topic to explore if we’re going to attract more diversity to local government leadership) on Wednesday.

And we’re also looking ahead to another webinar with our friends from Cal City News and Grassroots Lab.  They’re going to share their findings from their recent report on city management in California on Thursday the 19th.


haxd6We started this #13Percent conversation because it’s important to keep this topic alive so we can potentially see progress in the next 30 years.  It’s going to take big ideas and people with the guts to share them.  What’s on your mind?  What big ideas do you have to increase diversity in local governments?  Email Kirsten and share your thoughts and we’ll find creative and comfortable ways for you to participate in this conversation.

At A Minimum…

haxg0Try your hand at making a meme about the #13Percent issue.  We use the Meme Generator.  Because when the going gets tough, sometimes it helps to laugh in the face of the frustration.  Share your meme with us on Facebook or Twitter.  We’ll share the best ones with our members.