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Tell the Citizen Advisory Council to Consider Diversity Goals in Selection Process

This petition had 315 supporters

Worcester is a Gateway city with an increasingly diverse population and a historical legacy of being welcoming to immigrants. Because of this history:

  • People of color make up 38% of our population
  • Worcester Public Schools are home to students who speak 85 languages

Despite this, our city has struggled with addressing institutional racism and years of policies and practices that have led to disparate outcomes across key quality of life indicators that include health, education and economics and under representation in city government.

The city’s Charter was changed in 1986 to establish a Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC). The purpose of the CAC is to publicize and recruit candidates for vacancies on the city’s volunteer boards, and to advise the City Manager of candidates for those positions. The Charter specifically addresses inclusion and diversity goals in filling those vacancies.

Unfortunately, the process for selection of candidates onto these boards and commissions does not prioritize goals for racial diversity, equity and inclusion. This opens the city up to the potential threat of selecting candidates, including local professionals, whose actions are in direct contradiction to the goals of equity and inclusion to fill these positions.

City Manager Ed Augustus has demonstrated a commitment to improving citizen access to city services by establishing a city diversity and inclusion office and hiring a strong candidate to fill it. He has made public statements in support of inclusion and diversity, and has made attempts to engage the community in discussions of racial inequity in the city.

We’re calling on Mr. Augustus to follow up on those steps and commitments by ensuring that all citizens who serve on city boards and commissions recognize and are committed to the city’s stated goals for racial diversity, equity and inclusion. Instructions given to the Citizen’s Advisory Council in interviewing applicants should include directives to address those goals with candidates.

Furthermore, to support the city’s goals of being a safe and welcoming city and to prevent future blind spots that could cause potential harm to our community, it is recommended that the City’s Diversity Director report directly to the City Manager to help our city government prioritize those goals.

*Photo credit: MassLandlords & Paul Nguyen

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