Council hears DEI report, authorizes more work
by Steven Felschundneff | firstname.lastname@example.org
During its priority setting meeting last year the Claremont City Council added developing anti-racist anti-discrimination policies and plans to achieve “community and organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In November 2022 the council agreed to hire CPS HR Consulting to complete an evaluation of the city’s DEI efforts both internally with city operations and its employees, and with the citizens of Claremont.
Initially the council authorized paying CPS $42,150 for the study, which company representatives unveiled during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. That report was the culmination of an initial evaluation including employee focus groups, a survey assessment, one-on-one meetings with the mayor and council members, and a comprehensive policy review.
On Tuesday the council voted unanimously to allocate an additional $70,000 to the consulting firm to fund diversity, equity and inclusion training for the council and city staff, community workshops and consulting services to “conduct a comprehensive equity analysis of city operations.”
For its 2022 to 2024 budget the city had set aside $150,000 specifically for this type of study and associated work.
On hand during Tuesday’s meeting were Jacques Whitfield, the lead consultant on the project and Baron Brown, the local contact for the company who co-authored the study along with Jasmine Thurston.
The group presented a “comprehensive DEI roadmap,” the culmination of the work it performed beginning in February with a survey that all city employees were encouraged to complete. The survey results gave the consulting firm a picture of the city’s current programs, and a view of each individual’s DEI experience on the job.
Then the company held focus groups with the city’s leadership, including the one-on-one meetings with the council.
“The focus group sessions not only provided CPS HR key insights into how City staff are perceiving this initiative, they also allowed CPS HR to identify areas of strength as well as growth opportunities,” read the report. “The focus group participants were vocal in acknowledging that they feel supported in the areas of DEI, and the City’s serious commitment to this effort.”
Finally, CPS analyzed 119 of the city’s administrative policies and found 109 appeared to contain “clear, equitable, balanced language that is consistent with the city’s core values and mission statement.” Furthermore, the policies reflected “best practices” in terms of its commitment to diversity equity inclusion and belonging.
During his presentation Whitfield said about 50% of city employees completed the survey, which is not a poor result, but does present a challenge to reach the remainder of the employees who did not participate.
He said the work completed so far is a solid start but wondered where the other 50% are in their DEI experience and was particularly focused on anyone who might have skipped the survey because they did not feel comfortable participating.
“Because if it’s not safe for one of us, then it’s not safe for all of us,” Whitfield said.
“DEI is workforce optimization,” Brown said, which leads to higher morale for the city’s employees and a better level of service for Claremont residents.
The additional funds approved by the council will be used for three to five community forums to seek “feedback from citizens and share the City’s vision and initiatives as it relates to building a welcoming and inclusive community culture for all residents.”
After the forums CPS will hold public study sessions to effectively incorporate participant feedback into programs.
The company will also conduct training that focuses on “cultural intelligence, crucial conversations, and managing conflict through the lens of equity.”