Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Diversity in Roanoke City’s workforce is a little disappointing

Brenda Hale, President of Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP

Brenda Hale President of the NAACP Roanoke Branch said of Monday morning’s Diversity Report to Roanoke City Council that she “was a little disappointed in the staff racial mix.” Besides the racial mix Hale thought the city’s largest employer’s gender mix was also inadequate.

Caroline Glover, director of human resources gave council an overview of Roanoke City’s diverse workforce of 1,621 employees. Males make up 64.16 percent while females make up 35.84 of the city’s workforce. Female promotions lagged male promotions in 2010.

Hale wondered the position level females were hired into compared to males. “Are they being hired in management or supervisory positions or are they glorified custodians,” asked Hale. By not capturing new hire work assignments left questions for Hale.

As of April Roanoke City’s minority population stands at 31.22 percent as recorded by the VEC. Roanoke City’s minority workforce is somewhat lower at 21 percent. The percent of minority new hires came in at about the same percentage.

Staff hiring has picked up in 2010 compared to the lean years of 2008-2009. Prior year calculations reflect years of downsizing and seemed to have hit females more than males. In 2010 hiring picked up to a more normal rate thought assistant city manager, Sherman Stovall.

Glover admitted that Fire/EMS is “predominantly a white male dominated environment.” There is a struggle in the Public Works department getting skill applicants and diversity is minimal she said.

Budget cuts have required a reduction in the professional development in leadership program. A smaller budge has led to the city being very selective in the recruiting of new employees. No-cost or low-cost job fairs are the norm. Human Resources works closely with Total Action against Poverty and other organizations.

Councilman Ray Ferris said he’d like to see the percentage of minority applicants to determine if either minorities were not applying or not being hired.

Hale believes that qualifications for city positions need to be clearly defined. If a minority applicant is not qualified then “It sets them up to fail – it takes away their hope,” she said. Vocational education plays a big part in succeeding in many of the city’s positions.

Hale was dismayed by the “total silence on military veteran recruitment.” Veterans are already a trained skilled workforce. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. The Non-Commissioned Officer Association is where they should be looking thought Hale.

Glover explained that applicants recruited have a hard time getting through the Police and Fire/EMS academy. Stovall said that they had been more aggressive in recruiting minorities in the past. They plan to step it up again as the budget improves.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: ,

Comments (1)

Jack Mcguire

August 2nd, 2011 at 8:57 AM    

The best person for the job should get it. If they are not qualified they shouldn’t be hired period. If the best staff is all white or all black, so be it.
Color,sex or sexual orientation shouldnt even be on the application. And BTW did you know that City workers are graded on “diversity”.. and that effects their pay. This practice should be stopped now!

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