116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The city of Cedar Rapids is restarting its search for a diversity, equity and inclusion manager about a year after local racial justice advocates pressed city leaders to significantly invest in those priorities after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police.
City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said in a statement the job was offered to a candidate “after an extensive search and interview process. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement as to employment terms.”
The city will return to the search firm it hired for $21,000 — GovHR USA of Northbrook, Ill. — to begin another search immediately, Pomeranz said, and “fill the position with a qualified candidate as quickly as possible.”
Pomeranz said a timeline for the second search is being determined, and he encouraged qualified people to apply for the job.
The Cedar Rapids City Council in August 2020 created the position to advance diversity, equity and inclusion through programs, training and services and help execute the city’s first comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.
The new hire will report to the city manager.
Pomeranz has said the full-time employee would research trends in organizational decision-making and determine ways to measure success to hold the city accountable.
The individual also would work with Human Resources to improve recruitment and retention of workers from underrepresented backgrounds.
According to the brochure advertising the position, the salary hiring range is $80,371.20 to $94,452.80 plus benefits. The full range extends to $108,492.80.
The city’s creation of the position aligned with seven demands from the local nonprofit Advocates for Social Justice to promote racial equity in the city after Floyd’s murder. The city council on June 19, 2020, unanimously committed to advancing those demands
Another key demand was the creation of a nine-member citizens’ police review board, which will provide oversight of local law enforcement. The council adopted the ordinance creating the panel in February and expects to appoint members soon.
In addition to the search for the diversity, equity and inclusion manager, Cedar Rapids officials have pointed to a number of new and existing initiatives as evidence of progress on that demand, including annual implicit bias training for police officers and diversity training for all city employees.
The city in the fall of 2019 hired Oather Taylor of Cedar Rapids, in a $5,000 consulting contract, to assess diversity, equity and inclusion in the city organization. Taylor, who previously was director of diversity for Alliant Energy, reviewed data on city employees and made recommendations to help with recruitment and retention.
Amara Andrews, board vice president of the Advocates for Social Justice and a candidate for mayor, said the delay in hiring a diversity, equity and inclusion manager is unfortunate because the city is “already behind” on diversity issues.
“We should’ve had someone in this position years ago, frankly, and we’re trying to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Andrews said.
Andrews said many people living in Cedar Rapids are equipped to do the job, and she encouraged city officials to look within city limits for candidates and tap into local nonprofits, like the Advocates for Social Justice, to find candidates.
Given the diversity challenges facing the city, Andrews said the position’s duties potentially should be split between at least two people.
The position profile does not indicate the diversity manager would have a staff.
“It’s a big job and that person will need resources,” Andrews said. “They will need the qualifications, and then they will need the resources and support to get the job done, and it is really difficult, difficult work.”
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