SERJ Commission Meeting, October 7 4:00 p.m.
Questions from SERJ to Tina Gray and Gary Milliman
1) Q. Please clarify all demographic data for City of Ashland employees over the last 5 years.
A. The City does not track demographic data.We have a voluntary question in our application process which we use for mandatory EEOC reporting.Otherwise, we do not have any metrics about employee demographics. Employees are hired based on their talents, skills, and abilities.
Note: The City has experienced a much higher than average turnover from 2019-present due to retirements, layoffs, and resignations, so our employee demographics are rapidly changing.
2) Q.Please highlight and clarify any Social Justice/Racial Equity/ or other Equity initiatives within the City of Ashland. Who holds those initiatives, who is responsible for seeing them through, and how does the SERJ commissions work support those initiatives if at all?
A. As an organization, we want to do more, and we need to do more to promote DEI.HR hopes to be a partner with SERJ.However, we have budget and resource limitations.We have been hindered in our progress by several emergencies and staffing changes.HR is two people for 250 employees, so we have been maxed out with COVID mask and vaccine issues at a time with limited staffing and remote work complexities.
The City was gaining momentum on creating an internal DEI Committee when COVID and the Almeda fire redirected staffing resources and priorities.We planned to conduct a confidential survey to determine how employees feel the City is doing to establish a baseline.
We have a DEI Statement for the City.When some of our key leadership positions are filled and in-person meetings resume, we will continue with our plans to kick off our internal committee.While HR has a primary role in attracting diverse talent, we all have equal responsibility for creating and maintaining an inclusive and positive work environment for all.
3) Q. Please clarify what constitutes work? In our last meeting there was a discussion that laid out the commission's inability to "to create or assign additional work to city employees" we're asking for clarification to ensure that we're staying within the guidelines. Gary Milliman should answer this.
4) Q. What sort of diversity training do the current City of Ashland employees have at this time?
A. The City initiated Blind Applications, and that effort has taken significant work to implement and retrain hiring managers.Before serving on an interview panel for the City, we require that the panelists receive training (online) regarding the importance of diversity in hiring and recognizing and eliminating bias.
The City has had semi-annual harassment training provided by our Insurance Company, CIS.Their program also includes some training on diversity, cultural awareness, and removing bias.
We recently engaged with Common Ground Conversations on Race for a ˝ day workshop for managers in the City.The training was fantastic and well received by the entire team.We would love to continue the training with Mike and Emily Green, but we do not have adequate funding.
5) Q. Who is receiving this training? (Staff and supervisors, or just one of the other?)
A. A combination of both--with added emphasis on supervisory staff in a leadership role to establish or change the culture in their work environment.
6) Q. Who is giving the training? How often does it happen?
A. The City lacks funds for training. We generally use a combination of free training through our insurance company, CIS, or our Risk Management Consultants. The $3,500 recently spent with Common Ground Conversations on Race was the entire budget for the year for HR, Safety, and Risk Management.
7) Q. Has it been vetted by the BIPOC community? If so, when and where and how was that input that you received?
A. Councilor DuQuenne connected us with Mike and Emily Green.Otherwise, the training we've been able to offer has been free, so we have not been in the position to vet it.
8) Q. Whatever happened to the walk a mile training that was proposed as part of the racial justice and social equity work plan resolution that preceded the formation of the commission?
A. The "Walk a Mile in Their Shoes" training was a free offering from the City's insurance company, CIS.Unfortunately, they canceled the training on us twice due to scheduling conflicts on their end.Ultimately, they are revising the training based on feedback from other Cities, and the City of Ashland is on the list when it becomes available again—hopefully later this fall.
9) Q. Is the training different for different areas in the City? For example, does public works, vs. parks and recreation, have their own training and if so, who is responsible for seeing that it happens and what it contains?
A. Some City Departments have been able to budget for training and may take on training initiatives separately.Police and Fire, for example, have maintained some funds for training where other departments have had to eliminate training during lean budget cycles.The City and Parks try to coordinate and maximize our resources as much as possible. Any training the City organizes includes Parks and vice versa.
10) Q. Is there a current mechanism for members of the public who feel that they have been treated differently, or have suffered a micro aggression by a City of Ashland official because of their race or other status to complain and if so, what is that mechanism and how is it communicated to the individual?
A. To my knowledge, other than in a Police setting, we have not had any issues.In instances where police are involved, it is handled as an internal affairs investigation into the officer's conduct.Outside of the police department, any complaints regarding City employees would typically be directed to the City Administrator and/or Human Resources for resolution.
11) Q. What calendaring system are schedulers using to assure that they are culturally competent regarding scheduling dates that fall on religious holidays?
A. The City has a list of paid holidays (Recognized Federal Holidays) that we observe, and City offices are closed on those holidays except for emergency services.We don't calendar or schedule differently for religious holidays.We would accommodate an employee who requested time off on any date that has special meaning for them.
12) Q. How are minority hires being supported so that they feel welcome, included, and valued?
A. We treat all employees equally and work hard to make every new hire feel welcome, included, and valued.
13) Q. Is there a mechanism for a minority hire to raise issues regarding racism or other discrimination or microaggressions in their work environment to supervisors, and if so, what is it?
A. We would hope that an employee would feel comfortable reporting any workplace issue to their direct supervisor. Still, our Workplace Fairness Policy directs them to Human Resources if they are uncomfortable talking with their supervisor.
The City's Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
The City of Ashland is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We acknowledge, celebrate, and support our differences across all spectrums, including but not limited to gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality. We strive to foster an environment of respect that encourages diversity in background, opinion, and perspectives. We will continue to look for new ways to further equity in our work and our community by continually challenging ourselves to do better at eliminating bias and making inclusion a top priority. Respect for one another is at the core of everything we do.