The Natick Select Board this past week voted to sponsor an article that would pave the way for the town to hire its first chief diversity officer by creating. the position and coming up with a way to fund it (you can view the discussion starting at the 2-hour, 30-minute mark of the meeting).
Natick’s Equity Task Force has been fine-tuning such a job description.
Natick will have plenty of competition for talent in this field, as numerous other municipalities (Reading, Revere, Salem among them) are already in the hiring process, as seen in listings on the Massachusetts Municipal Association website. Some communities, such as Wellesley, have hired diversity, equity & inclusion officers for their school systems.
Natick’s Select Board voted unanimously to sponsor an article. Paul Joseph said “If we want to demonstrate our sincerity about addressing this issue there’s no greater way than to make a statement than hire somebody at that level.” While the person might report to the town administrator, Joseph envisions such a hire as being a town-wide resource.
When asked by a board member to explain what the role of this office would be, Town Administrator Jamie Errickson compared the position initially as being somewhat like that of Natick’s sustainability coordinator.
“When we started it was the low hanging fruit, let’s adopt some policies, let’s put some solar panels on our buildings…,” he said. “The diversity officer in my opinion will really have to dive into what are the opportunities for us to improve equity and diversity, and that might be through bylaws and policies for changes in how we do simple things like hiring practices or even how we do outreach and engagement for our hiring practices, to setting forth a path forward for how do we make meaningful change for the long term when it comes to equity and diversity, both internal to government but also in the community as a whole.”
The town has initiatives from planning to police to fire in which it wants to hire a more diverse and skilled workforce. “In order to do that we need to think more broadly. We’re in a hugely competitive market,” he said.