Natick’s temporary Equity Task Force, created a year ago to explore ways the town should approach the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, has recommended that the town create a permanent committee.
Select Board member Sue Salamoff put the recommendation into perspective at the Nov. 17 board meeting (about 2 hours into the recording). She stated: “The wrongful death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 was a wake-up call to address structural racism. It was clear that it requires government leadership to effect change. It was a need to evaluate how the town was doing in employment practices, representation in elected and appointed volunteer committees, and the unknown factor of how welcome persons from marginalized communities feel in Natick.”
The Select Board voted in July 2020 to establish the 11-member task force to put a DE&I framework in place for Natick, and this past summer supported plans to hire a chief diversity officer.
The task force has researched Natick’s attention to diversity to date, as well as the Natick school system’s and governments in other communities.
Its recommendation is for Natick to form a standing 7-to-9-member committee whose mission would be to work with the chief diversity officer (once hired) and advise the Select Board on such projects as building community relations, establishing a way for people who interact with the town to report civil rights violations, and reviewing town bylaws.
Select Board member Paul Joseph raised the question of how such a committee might work with the town’s Commission on Disability and affordable housing groups to ensure diversity efforts are in sync.
Task force member Guimel DeCarvalho said during the Select Board meeting that the Council on Aging, Sustainability Committee, and other groups would also be natural partners “by default.” She added: “Equity encompasses everything.”
The first group of committee members would serve until mid-2023, and then 3-year staggered terms would be the protocol from there. The committee would have at least 75% representation of communities that are historically marginalized populations. Sitting members of the Select Board, School Committee, Planning Board, and Finance Committee members would not be eligible.
The timing of when such a committee would be created vs. when the chief diversity officer is hired remains to be seen.
The Select Board at its meeting accepted the report (embedded below) from the task force at its Nov. 17 meeting and will now bring the issue back to a future meeting as a charge that could be discussed and voted on Dec. 1.
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