Douglas County votes to create Diversity, Inclusion, Equity Committee

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 4:40 PM CDT
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On a seven to nothing vote the Douglas County Board voted to approve the creation of diversity, inclusion, and equity committee to take a closer look at how county government can be more inclusive in their hiring practices, training, and promotions.

Douglas County officials say this is the first step to improve the county’s hiring and promotion practices

At last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Douglas County Corrections officer Tonya Burnside addressed the board members on racial inequalities in the Douglas County government and at the Douglas County Correctional Center.

“Too many times there have been higher seniority black staff members passed over for promotions only to have less qualified, less seniority white staff members receive the promotion,” said Burnside.

Today Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson responded by introducing a resolution to create a Douglas County Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee.

“That kind of what the issue is that if we take a look at our workforce are, we are doing everything we can to try to encourage diversity to encourage inclusion,” said Borgeson. “There are probably other departments that we don’t know of yet that may have those same issues and so this committee would be a committee to help look at those items.”

Commissioner Borgeson says it was comments from officer Burnside and the country’s current demand for social change, that calls for a discussion of racial issues in Douglas County.

“Because of the civil unrest that we’ve seen not only here but across the country and the comments that are made for us to really take a look at what we inside of county government are doing. That is again focused around the hiring the training what can we do to do better,” said Borgeson.

Commission Borgeson says the committee is not the answer to all concerns of racial inequality in Douglas County but she does believe it is a good first step.

“It’s not enough this is just again the first step we haven’t done an intentional thing like this before and this again is the first step in addressing those,” said Borgeson.

There is opposition to forming the Douglas County Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee.

Lavon Stennis Williams of Reconnect Inc, a nonprofit organization that provides its clients with skills, support, and services needed to overcome system barriers, issued a statement today. It reads in part, “What the past has shown us and what recent actions in the forms of protest and unrest have confirmed is black America and other people of color do not need more committees to study the problem we need action.”

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