CEDAR RAPIDS — The city of Cedar Rapids plans to hire a full-time staff member who will be solely dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion priorities on a local level.
The Cedar Rapids City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to add an employee in the City Manager’s Office to lead efforts to promote and enhance diversity within the city through programs, training and services.
This individual will advise city staff on policies and procedures to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion research trends into organizational decision-making and development, City Manager Jeff Pomeranz told The Gazette, and implement ways to measure success to hold the city accountable on progress.
“I’m very excited about what this position can do for us because we have made a number of strides in recent years, but to have an individual solely responsible for diversity and or inclusion within our organization, I think, is going to be a real step forward,” Pomeranz said.
He said the city will conduct a national search that could take up to four months.
Pomeranz said the city will use its resources to support this one individual and is not currently considering staffing a broader unit to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
In fall 2019, months before widespread protests for racial justice after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the city spent $5,000 to contract with Cedar Rapids resident Oather Taylor as a consultant to assess diversity, equity and inclusion of the city organization.
Taylor previously served as Alliant Energy’s director of diversity.
Pomeranz said Taylor reviewed data regarding city employees and made recommendations to help recruit and retain individuals.
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“Until you really get that outside view, which I think is unique … you don’t know and you may be just living and satisfied with your own perspective, not that of those you’re attempting to serve,” Pomeranz said.
In his work, Taylor considered where the city advertises job openings and how officials reach out to and beyond the community to attract a diverse candidate pool, Pomeranz said. He also looked at the demographics of supervisors and employees to make sure the city staff is representative of the Cedar Rapid community.
The city has set goals to recruit a larger number of individuals from minority populations and to more intentionally reach out to individuals of color and young people to get these groups interested in the prospect of public service through working for the city, Pomeranz said.
“As we look toward diversity and equity and inclusion, we have done a lot of this work already and we know as a city organization — myself as the person who runs the organization — that we are not perfect, that we have a ways to go as far as our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce,” he said.
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