Elk Grove Forms Ad-Hoc Committee to Identify, Resolve City's Lack of Workforce Diversity
May 10, 2017 |
In response to complaints about the lack of workforce diversity at the City of Elk Grove, an ad-hoc committee headed by Council Member Stephanie Nguyen was formed at last night's City Council meeting to explore the cause of and develop solutions to the problem. The report was produced following a February 2017 request by the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP who expressed concern about the city's lack of workforce diversity.
The ad-hoc committee was established following public comments that uniformly criticized the report examining the city's workforce as a regurgitation of already well-documented information. That report was produced following a February 2017 request by the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP who expressed concern about the city's lack of workforce diversity.
The report by deputy city manager Kara Reddig noted even though the city is a so-called majority-minority city with no one racial group holding a majority, the overwhelming majority of city employees are white.
Reddig said there were some procedures the city could immediately endeavor to start work on the problem. Some of them included human resource practices like blind hiring, intelligent shortlisting, attending diversity job work fairs, and working with professional associations.
"The city has some things to work on," Reddig concluded.
During public comment, several of the 10-plus speakers said they had hoped for an audit that would have explored the reasons for the lack of diversity. Typical of the speakers was Betty Williams, President of the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP who suggested an outside party be used to identify the source of the problems.
"I was disappointed in the numbers, but not surprised," Williams said. "I wondered why you didn't use an independent auditor."
Also commenting on the findings was Rosanna Herber of Sacramento Stonewall Democrat club which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. Herber noted that the LGBT community nationally is estimated at 10-percent, yet they were unmentioned in the report.
Herber said that when city employees are hired, they are given an opportunity to racially self-identify but not for sexual orientation.
"If you want a workforce that reflects the community, you are missing a whole big community," she said. "If you want to get the best out of an employee, he or she has to bring their authentic self to work.
One public speaker who caught the attention of the city council was Elk Grove resident Don Jefferies, who identified himself as retired following a career which included extensive experience in affirmation action and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compliance. Jefferies said the city did not have the expertise within its staff and that it needed to do a thorough workplace analysis to develop meaningful solutions.
"The analysis you do about diversity should be one that is on establish standards; that's not happening," he said.
During questioning from the city council, Jefferies went on to say the analysis in the staff report was simplistic and did not paint an accurate picture. He added that the all of the city's human resource practices need to be scrutinized.
At one point Council Member Pat Hume asked Jefferies if he would be willing to undertake the audit or the city to refer to an outside independent party. Jefferies said he would be able to provide guidance, but added a caveat.
"In order to make this work, the commitment has to come from right up here," he said pointing to the council.
Following public comment, City Manager Laura Gill defended the report saying "we intentionally did not call this an audit."
Gill went on to say the report was a snapshot in time meant to indicate the composition of the workforce. Also, Gill said the city's external auditor could be retained to examine practices within the various departments, and after hearing council comments, suggested an ad-hoc committee could be formed.
During the deliberations, Nguyen volunteered to form an ad-hoc committee among some of the people who spoke on the matter as well as other communities of interest.
"I'm going to take this back to what Ms. Lynn Wheat said that our stakeholders really, truly are our community who reside in the city," she said. "I've heard a lot of people speak tonight that they want to step up and help and they want to be part of it."
Nguyen volunteered to preside over a diversity oversight committee composed of people from different communities within the city. Council Member Darren Seen said he would also serve on the committee.
Among the names tossed out by the council members for inclusion on the committee were Elk Grove residents Jefferies, Lynn Wheat, Maureen Craft, Joel Broussard, and representatives from outside the city, the NAACP's Williams’, Fabrizio Sasso from the Sacramento Central Labor Council. Other groups were mentioned for inclusion, but no details were specified on outreach efforts.