Editorial: A ‘more inclusive and more equitable’ Worcester

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Last Tuesday, Jan. 26, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., released his second quarterly update on the administration’s “plan to implement strategies and policies that will ensure a community that is committed to working to protect civil rights.”

Malika Carter

Submitted photo

Malika Carter begins her job as the city’s chief diversity officer on Feb. 8.

Building on and surpassing the gains reported in his September update, Augustus announced progress on multiple fronts that address five areas of focus:

— Creating a more Diverse and Culturally Competent Workforce

— Improving Public Safety Relations with the Community

— Providing Opportunities for Young People

— Expanding Efforts to Educate and Engage Public on the Electoral Process

— Enhancing Economic Development Opportunities

The highlight was the Jan. 15 announcement of the hiring of Malika Carter, PhD, as the city’s chief diversity officer.

Carter, who starts her job on Feb. 8, was most recently director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services at the University of North Dakota. While pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Vermont, Carter authored two papers, “Latino/a Student Racial and Ethnic Identity Development” and “Socioeconomic Subjectivity: How Socioeconomic Barriers Affect Educators and Community College Students.”

In his update to the City Council, Augustus wrote: “The main duties of the position will include developing and monitoring, recruiting, hiring, training, promoting and retaining strategies to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups who work and volunteer for the city.

“Dr. Carter will also oversee the development and implementation of the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity and Inclusion Plan and making sure that the city is in compliance with all federal, state and local Equal Employment Opportunity laws.”

“I pledge to continue building a diverse and inclusive atmosphere that allows all — regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or other characteristics — to bring their whole selves to work and play in the Worcester community; so they can contribute their best,” Carter said in a release.

Among the other notable gains was the securing of $187,000 to support the Worcester Jobs Fund’s pre-apprentice training program; the naming of seven individuals to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, formerly the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee; the reestablishment of the Mayor’s Civic Academy, which begins Feb. 1; and an agreement with the Ascentria Care Alliance to provide interpretation and translation services in more than 90 languages to those with limited English proficiency.

We applaud, and Worcester residents should be heartened by, the continued progress in making the city more inclusive and equitable. Indeed, this most recent update should allay fears that the process begun in April would be short-lived and not result in substantive change.

However, as we noted on Dec. 13, a lack of public forums to gather and assimilate feedback from the public is a missing piece of this strategy.

We wrote, “We recommend that the city undertake a program of quarterly dialogues with the full power and effort of the original dialogues on race. We believe such a strategy will complement the city’s ongoing efforts.”

In addition to gathering feedback, such gatherings would allow the administration a wider forum to trumpet the city’s progress and help the city become, as Augustus wrote, “more inclusive and more equitable.”

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