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Mayor announces formation of Diversity and Inclusion team

December 2, 2014

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Diversity

 Today Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, in conjunction with the Greater Boston Latino Network (GBLN) and leaders representing communities of color in Boston, announced the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Team. The announcement took place today at City Hall, where Mayor Walsh joined GBLN to release a report analyzing the Latino presence in decision-making positions at the municipal level.

“From day one of this administration, we have been very clear about our commitment to diversifying leadership, staff and members of boards and commissions,” said Mayor Walsh. “We are thrilled to be partnering with groups like the Greater Boston Latino Network to evaluate the current state of diversity within this city and identifying best practices in reaching our common goal of increased diversity and our shared values of inclusion and equity.”

The Diversity & Inclusion Team will be charged with the following:

  • Evaluating the current and newly created systems in hiring and appointments to boards & commissions and determining their effectiveness for communities of color;
  • Establishing clear and realistic benchmarks to measure progress. 
  • Identifying talent across diverse communities to fill positions within the City and on boards and commissions;
  • Identifying key positions outside of department heads and cabinet chiefs that can serve as pipelines for people of color to advance into those positions;
  • And, in partnership with area colleges and universities, developing a pipeline program to train people of color to enter into positions in public service.

The Team, currently in formation, will be led by Shaun Blugh, the City’s first Chief Diversity Officer, and will include city leaders from Human Resources and relevant City departments, and members of key constituency leadership groups including the Greater Boston Latino Network. The working group will be finalized in the coming weeks, and have their first meeting in early February.

The administration is partnering in this endeavor with Greater Boston Latino Network, a collective effort of Latino-led community based organizations in Boston, Chelsea and Somerville with the mission to promote Latino/a leadership in decision-making positions from city halls and local boards and commissions to state agencies.

In December 2013, GBLN commissioned a study with university-affiliated researchers: Miren Uriarte, Ph.D. (UMass Boston); James Jennings, Ph.D. (Tufts University); and Jen Douglas, Ph.D. (UMass Boston). GBLN and the researchers compiled a report of the findings, called The Silent Crisis: Including Latinos and Why it Matters, released today with Mayor Walsh. The study and recommendations have been shared with the City of Boston, and GBLN is planning to meet with the Cities of Chelsea and Somerville.

The report includes a measure of the economic, social and political inclusion of Latinos at mid-decade in three cities of the Commonwealth where about one fourth of the state’s Latino population lives. The report also makes recommendations for the City, fully embraced by the Walsh administration:

  • Pursue the inclusion of Latinos at the leadership level;
  • Support city employees in adopting an advocacy role and actively representing Latinos;
  • And leverage efforts at the leadership level to pursue a more inclusive bureaucracy at all staffing levels.

 

"We found that the representation of Latinos in Boston’s executive positions and boards and commissions had not kept pace with the growth of the Latino population in the city.  This was the case even in agencies in which Latinos hold great stakes such as the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Housing Authority, services for families and children and economic development,” said researcher, Dr. Miren Uriarte. "It is clear that government works best when it understands and can effectively act upon the needs of all constituencies.  Lack of representation leads to lack of knowledge of needs and resources in under-represented groups and ineffective actions to address their concerns.”

“There is no doubt our community has a very high stake in a well-functioning city government. Latinos are the largest constituents in the Boston Public Schools and the largest block of tenants in the Boston Housing Authority,” said Executive Director of Sociedad Latina and member of GBLN, Alexandra Oliver- Dávila. “Reflective representation alone is not enough to have broad positive effects on the experience of government of under-represented groups. It also requires a broad commitment to changing policies and practice. Still, the beauty of it is that the benefits of representation (like improved student performance) are broadly shared with other minority groups.”

“We recognize Boston's history and celebrate how far we have come, but we are acutely aware of the disparities that we continue to see today. We see them in outcomes in the foundations for success, from education and public health, to housing and jobs. Our city is committed to being more inclusive and, with that, more relevant to the needs of communities of color,” said Chief of Health and Human Services, Félix G. Arroyo. “Great progress has definitely been made and should be celebrated. Also, there are definite pipeline positions that have been filled and fully anticipate people in those positions to advance to department heads and cabinet chiefs during the Walsh administration.”

“We are thrilled to work with the city of Boston on this very important initiative,” adds Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, Executive Director of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) and GBLN member. “The City of Boston and the administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh has demonstrated their commitment to increased diversity and now the Team will have to roll up their sleeves to be able to do their part.”