Arlington Heights trustees review diversity report with 15 recommendations
A diversity consultant has issued a set of 15 recommendations for ways Arlington Heights village officials can improve their policies and procedures, which many trustees conceded Monday is only a starting point to a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that may be more of a marathon than a sprint.
Among the recommendations, the consultant suggested the village provide cultural competency training to staff members who regularly interact with the public; cast a wide net to attract a more diverse representation of employees, though the consultants stopped short of a diversity hiring quota; and form a short-term, ad hoc committee of residents, business owners and civic leaders to work on issues of diversity and inclusion.
The 40-page report by The Kaleidoscope Group, reviewed during a village board meeting Monday night, comes after two community listening sessions, three village employee focus groups, interviews with village management and a staff survey conducted since last September. That's when the board hired the Chicago-based firm for $31,000 as part of the elected panel's adopted strategic priority to find new ways to embrace diversity with the community and the village government.
The full report is available on the village website, vah.com.
A number of residents in recent months have called on the village to form a committee as the consultant recommends, though the residents want it to be permanent. The consultant recommended a temporary committee given possible budgetary concerns but said officials could make it permanent if they so chose.
Trustee Mary Beth Canty said some of the recommendations in the report would cost nothing and be easy to tackle right away, and would make a statement to those in the community, like her, who have been begging for the village to do something.
"This is a topic that is extremely near and dear to my heart for very personal reasons," said Canty, who is Black. "I think that there is a concern when we go through some of the studies that you've done, and the things we've heard from the town halls and listening sessions, that there is somehow a vocal minority of people that are driving a push for needing more DEI efforts in this community. What we need to remember is that if they are vocal, that is a huge step."
"It is hard to be different in the U.S. It is hard to be different in Arlington Heights," she continued. "So the fact that there are people that are speaking out that are asking us to do more and to take this leadership role, I think commands us to take more action."
The board discussed but didn't take formal action on any of the consultant's 15 recommendations during the three-hour meeting Monday night. Members did unanimously agree to adopt an eight-sentence diversity, equity and inclusion position statement written by the consultants. A formal vote is expected at the next meeting March 1.