What Else You Should Know About Diversity and Inclusion

Posted on August 6, 2015


At the end of our survey, we offered respondents the opportunity to comment on what else you should know diversity and inclusion in the local government workforce. Here’s what we heard.

Please include any other comments about diversity and inclusion in the local government workforce.

Now I realize I how much I need to get a different job – thanks.
It is a very important issue.  Language is also an important issue. I actively recruit bilngual staff members to serve our public and have influenced administration to include that in recruitment ads
When discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion, I think it is important to assure non-minority populations that their contributions are still important too. Fear seems to be the largest barrier. Open communication is the only effective way to address that fear.
Race diversity is occurring faster (albeit slowly) than gender diversity. And within race diversity, Black Americans are getting left out and left behind too often.
No matter where you work in local government, you work FOR your community/stakeholders.  You need to be able to empathize, understand & see things from multiple points of view.  Diversity will provide a varied perspective that can be extremely beneficial.  In addition, your government should reflect the community it serves.  This does NOT mean quotas.  It means genuinely wanting to provide individuals who may make some portions of your community more comfortable & willing to participate in the process.  These individuals can also serve as role models & mentors, encouraging that next generation to look at local government as a career choice.
I’m in favor of increasing workforce diversity when it can be done holistically through the hiring of the best employees possible.  I do not think that it is in the interest of the taxpayers to make hiring decisions primarily with the intent of checking off boxes on a diversity/inclusion checklist.
I think many people try, but don’t know how to try without violating the law by simply hiring someone because he/she is a minority.  That’s illegal discrimination.  We have to recruit from a broader spectrum (which shouldn’t be hard in Houston, Texas!), and work to retain top talent.
Maybe training the department managers at a higher level to include the aspects of diversity and the delicacies of CEO responsibilities.
Diversity includes women and men with equability in salary and benefits.
Although it is a hard topic to really train on, I think there could be more municipality centered training on diversity and inclusion, relating it to organizational culture as well.  With the current events circling around sensitivity and inclusion of many different demographics, it is as important as ever to ensure that employers are putting their best efforts forward to not only make the efforts, but get educated to make the best efforts.
Personal experience has shown that employees can learn from the work styles and work ethic of other employees.  This kind of peer pressure is an invaluable tool for employers.
Again heading in the right direction. Completion for employees is fierce. Will not be a problem solved over night
The onslaught of social media has changed how we funnel information in our community. It has become more difficult to silence the voices of different people who in the past have been ignored. Local government must respond in a way that is inclusive of all the people they serve. Everyone has a right to be heard.
In order for there to be diversity there has to be a clear understanding of what that means. It has to be communicated clearly to all involved, whether it is race, religion, sexual orientaion or spiritual prefence – there has to be clear comunnication of what diversity will mean and how it should be addressed by all who will be affected by it.
the local government workforce sets as a marginal effort reflecting the diversity of the community which it serves. I think that this should be a minimum. True efforts of diversity and inclusion should reach further, dig deeper, and reflect the community that it wants to be.
As someone who is male and pale (but trying not to be stale), I think it’s important not to alienate some groups in an effort to attract others. A focus on engaging highly talented and passionate people regardless of which boxes they can check is my preferred approach more so than specific targets even if unspoken. Sounds great in theory but I wonder at times if that is enough to offset established practices and mindsets.    I think local government organizations should be positioned to respond to the communities needs with understanding and empathy. That doesn’t necessarily mean a strict reflection of demographics, but if a community has a large population of ______ the organization must be able to acknowledge that and respond to that population’s needs and goals in a credible way.
It is important to understand your community’s demographical changes from; medium income, professional development, unemployment statistics, crime rate, housing needs, recreational public places/spaces but most importantly who lives in your community, 57% Hispanic?  12% Asian? 43% Caucasian?  Who are the people you serve?  What are their needs, how do you get them involve?  Knowing these simple stats, then take a look at your governmental leadership.  why is not an “inclusive” leadership.  What happen that you don’t have a member of your community in the leadership makeup?  It is important to look beyond one’s backyard.
Achieving diversity is not easy nor is it simple.  It requires sustained intention and persistence as a priority.
There are many talented people in our community.  Our challenge is convincing young people of color that public service is a worthwhile occupation.
In the 16 years I’ve been at the county, it has definitely improved.  I’d like to see more affinity groups for employees to connect and help them feel engaged and valued.
The population is changing , but the power structure has not. The power structure continues to hire people who have shared experience, shared communication styles and shared outward features. The effort to change cannot be isolated and dependent on one position within the County-  but rather a purposeful commitment to action that addresses deficits  that are easily trainable and seeks out potential in those that represent diverse populations.
We have diversity goals for hiring but I’ve never seen diversity and inclusion goals for retention and mentoring.  Beyond just hiring to fill a gap, we should be actively engaging in the work to create promotional pathways, to retain and develop our employees to be our future, diversity and inclusion focused leaders.  This isn’t inexpensive or fast but, in my opinion, we’ve run out of time to wax philosophically about the topic while taking no decisive action.
It is imperative that public sector employers in the region rally together around diversity, equity, and inclusion. There must arise fiefdoms. The very diversity, equity, and inclusion that’s promote within organization must include region connection whether by vocation, trade, and profession.
We need to eliminate labeling groups. “Boomers”, “Gen-X”, “Mellenials” are all terms that group people of a certain age into categories. It’s stereotyping and it needs to stop.
There needs to be greater effort to specifically address the role of older white men (stale pale males, of which I’m an aspiring member) in having more inclusive organizations.  It’s not a very engaging topic for many leaders who see it at yet another pseudo problem to be deflected and avoided rather than a challenge to tackle.  Too often it’s “how to I keep them happy/off my back” rather than “how can we make our organization better.”
Unfortunately, one of the major deterrents to anyone entering local government work is the tendency for criticism by the elected officials and the public, often not warranted, lingering general negative perceptions of gov’t workers, attacks on local gov’t budgets by the state that result in more work for already over worked employees.  While this is a great career and I celebrate the great things I can do for my community, it is a difficult time to persuade people to enter this career.
I think local governments need to make a bigger commitment to diversity beyond inclusion of it in mission, vision and core value statements. The efforts to maintain a diverse workforce should look far beyond the tangibles we are able to see when look at each other physically — race/ethnicity, gender, age, etc.  Rather, it needs to include all aspects of differences individuals can bring to the table — previous work experience, current role in org, department experience, ideology/values, hobbies, talents, ideas of what makes a strong community, and many other qualities. Local governments must commit staff resources who can take the lead in helping their organizations realize their potential in expanding opportunities for inclusion, creativity and team building within the organization.
I think the diversity conversation is more than just about race, gender and ethnicity. It is also about people with diverse thoughts and ideas. I find it challenging to present an idea that is different from the norm culture of the organization. I think we need learn to suspend judgement – perhaps a good training class for all govies.
Inclusion of women in local government workforce is very important. Lets also consider the millenials. How are we as local government leaders going to include this group in our hiring practice and give them the opportunities to succeed and grow. We need to not fear the millenial generation and instead embrace and learn from them. Lets partner together and change local government!
For a vision plan, Portland OR took two interesting and powerful steps:    1) They made people apply to sit on the steering committees (rather than hand pick usual voices)    2)  They gave outreach grants to small non-profits to get the word out.  Thus there was an incentive for these groups to reach out.
We need to move beyond the notion of diversity as a trend or business practice and towards a view as essential.
Supervisors can stifle open thoughts and communication with out realizing it. Diversity of rank and pay grade seem to be the current challenge in these modern times.
More is needed and I see that it is underway. I am impressed by the young emerging leaders that attend the conferences. Our future is in good hands.
There is no diversity on our City Council which says a lot about our community outreach and who we attract to get more involved.
Living Cities has a 5-module Citizen Engagement through Community Impact e-course.  I encourage local government leaders to go through the course.  It opened my eyes to areas I was overlooking.
The best strategies are ones that invest in a person for many years. Show a sense of loyalty to the community and government would be amazed at the results it produces. This could mean a 20 year program, which is not too far of a stretch when we are planning 50 year city visions and grants to get us there. Look to organizations like NASA, or Coca-Cola, or work that the Ford Foundation has put in over generations. In my lifetime, I feel I am living proof of programs such as these. I am a person of color, and I did not have a family member who had been to college. My parents could offer no financial or emotional assistance for college, as they were busy living hand to mouth with our family so large. I was recruited by a company to take a summer writing workshop for people of color. The coordinator was the first adult I had met who genuinely cared about my advancement and who wanted me to go to college. The company awarded this “apprenticeship” to 20 students a year, where we would go into the office and observe other adults of color working, and we helped out on a few things sometimes. We came back every summer to repeat. Because of this program’s early investment in my future, I saw myself as a worthwhile future employee. The program inspired me to go to college and get involved in local government. It repaired strained relationships in the community and built cross-cultural networks that I still use and rely on today because my peers are now all adults working in the industry and fighting for equity in our varying offices. However, this program did not invest dollars in me. The program paired me with people who gave their time to show me what they did, and build a relationship with me. That is how you include people, it starts with relationship building. It is important to take the “mystery” of cross-culturalism.
I think age diversity is often overlooked. I come from the feds where it’s very heavy on recent Millennial hires but I think there’s a lot of knowledge loss buy pushing older employees out the door via retirement. With local, I’m starting to see that trend but think it’s still very heavy on leadership in their 50s. It also seems the entire GenX gen has been bypassed and they are not being represented.
Personally, I think its a struggle because people tend to gravitate to situations that are familiar to them. If minorities aren’t seeing other minorities in a particular workforce, are they going to feel comfortable making that leap? We need to be more open and inviting. Make those changes that appeal to a diverse workforce. You have to build it first, then they will come.
It is unfair to label all jurisdictions as diverse or not diverse. This is a difficult area but any organization with a commitment to diversity will be able to demonstrate an acceptable level of diversity on their roster and/or Board.
The conversation has to be more focused on why diversity is important and not just focused on promoting diversity for diversity sake.  For people to come out and speak on this issue (Particularly  minorities) they must feel confident that they will not be fired or treated poorly for expressing their opinions.     Recent events throughout this nation relating race/ethnicity  relations should be signs that things must change. There are many minorities that are sick and tired of hearing ” we would hire minorities but we can’t find qualified ones”- the notion that there are not qualified minorities is Factually Incorrect.  Lastly Hispanic/Latino refers to ethnic group(s)  NOT race.. It is beyond frustrating reading articles published in local government forums that fail to understand that Hispanic/ Latino people can be Black or White ( Race) and Hispanic/Latino ( Ethnicity). Keep up the great work with this initiative- Rome wasn’t built in a Day!
It is a tough nut to crack. the pressures to perform/deliver services restrains people from taking the chance to hire those who might fail.  We have supervisors who just are not willing to take the chance, are ill-equipped with handling the challenges and antiquated systems that allow folks to take advantage of maintaining the system.
Thanks for taking this on! We need to learn how to talk about race and reject the colorblind mantra. If you wanted to put together a resource list or something like that I would recommend the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It is a powerful book that gives a thoughtful and historic analysis of institutional racism.
We need to do a better job at communicating what diversity looks like in an organization.  Trevor Wilson in his book “The Human Equity Advantage: Beyond Diversity to Talent Optimization” says this, “Success in diversity cannot be measured simply by tracking cosmetic changes in demographic representation.”
I am at the beginning of my career, but already I am so tired of fighting. I fight to be heard in meetings, I fight to be taken seriously when I have a business proposal, I fight to get people to care that I am offended at some the things they say and assumptions they make. I am tired of being told to be a good little girl and accept that this is how the world is. I am tired of reading articles and research that point out that there are still so many areas of disparity, but offer no solutions. I need some action items.
All agencies have a different culture, but nation-wide you see disturbing trends of police brutality and other forms of institutional racism. As local government we will not be able to become diverse entities until we address underlying issues of racism and discrimination which starts with ourselves. We will not progress by ignoring the problem.
We all should monitor our own expectations and preconceived notions.  Some hires that I was initially concerned about proved to be tremendous performers.  Never stop stretching yourself and allow yourself to believe that it’s a societal problem. Do your part by being the best you possible.
I think including diverse populations is key in local government because local government should reflect those they serve.  This means  including all races, religions, abilities, genders, etc.
I hope that we are past a time of thinking about quotas and who we have in the picture that gets placed on the front of the parks and rec brochure. And yet, having supervisors who are diverse is one of the surest ways to send the message to prospective employees that “you are welcome here.”  And honestly, people just want to feel welcome.
I’ve been very blunt here. Don’t hold it against me.  I am a white 50 year old mom who is comfortable in other cultures and with people who are not like me – including conservatives.   I consider myself a liberal and believe in the power of government for good.  This is a conundrum that needs to be solved.  Thank you for taking it on!
I think it is important that we some how begin to promote qualities and skills in individuals and focus less on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.  Until leaders in local government focus on the individual’s skillset versus what they look like on the outside, we will never be able to overcome issues surrounding diversity.
When seeking applicants, do everything in your power to not find out what their race and ethnic background is until they are hired. I know with the current system this is not possible. However, once you see the applicant in person you will be pushed one way or the other by the numbers in your organization to discriminate…whether it be against the majority or a minority. Specifically targeting and ultimately picking one racial group because your organization isn’t diverse enough is discrimination. Re-opening the application process once it is closed because you did not get a diverse enough application pool is discrimination, if there are qualified applicants in the first group. Applicants should be judged on what they know, can do, and how reliable they are…not on their sex or skin color, period!
In addition, when we talk about civic engagement, there needs to be a LOT more thought about how we engage minority communities and who are the right people to lead that effort and build trust. This would involve really valuing diversity as an asset to build capacity.
Diversity is achieved by taking a lot of little steps – not one big one
Each jurisdiction needs to define diversity and inclusion.  Obviously the broader the better.  Also sometimes government has to lead the community in D & I.  Lastly don’t approach D & I from the “we don’t want to get sued” perspective.  We can tell when you really don’t want to.
Being uncomfortable is common for underrepresented populations – but local government isn’t accustomed to that uncomfortable feeling. The fear of feeling uncomfortable or not having all the answers should hold government back from trying to find a way to increase diversity and inclusion.

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