Gordon, U grad measuring diversity

A team out of Cam Gordon’s office will measure the diversity of Minneapolis’ boards and commissions.

Starting this summer, 2nd Ward councilman Cam Gordon and a University of Minnesota graduate are preparing a âÄúdiversity auditâÄù within the walls of Minneapolis City Hall. A team out of GordonâÄôs office will be conducting the audit of MinneapolisâÄô boards and commissions. The goal is to get solid data on how diverse MinneapolisâÄô government is and if the population of Minneapolis is being properly represented, Gordon said. The audit will be conducted through a survey that will look at the diversity of all of the cityâÄôs more than 50 boards and commissions. âÄúI have concerns based on what IâÄôve seen,âÄù Gordon said. âÄúWe are probably more male, more middle-aged and more white than the city as a whole.âÄù However, Gordon said he could be wrong, and having the data provided by the diversity audit would give the city solid numbers. Annie Welch, a recent graduate of the UniversityâÄôs Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, is currently interning in GordonâÄôs office and will be doing most of the legwork on the diversity audit. She has already designed the survey and plans to administer it to all the boards and commissions. In many ways, Welch said sheâÄôs the perfect person to do the audit. âÄúSince IâÄôm relatively new, I donâÄôt know the composition of the city boards and commissions,âÄù she said. âÄúI have kind of a Martian eye in that sense.âÄù However, Welch is aware of a recent similar study of the level of diversity in the cityâÄôs departments, which she said showed that âÄúin some areas they are doing very well, but in others, not so much.âÄù The cityâÄôs human resources department conducted the study last September as part of the Minneapolis Affirmative Action Plan, which strives to ensure equal employment opportunities to all qualified applicants and employees. The study looked at the number and availability of qualified women and minorities out of the cityâÄôs then almost 4,000 employees. The numbers were based on the groupâÄôs availability within the relevant labor market (RML), which is the number of available workers of certain minority groups in the employerâÄôs workforce. The findings show that while minority groupsâÄô representation in city departments remained above the RML, the rates of female employees dropped since 2002 in most departments, according to a draft of the study. Gordon said he wants to translate this type of analysis onto the cityâÄôs boards and commissions. But while the cityâÄôs evaluation of departments looked at employment for women and minority groups, GordonâÄôs survey plans to go further and also delve into issues of age, income and sexual orientation. âÄúItâÄôs clear that we donâÄôt do a very good job as a city of getting participation of people under 30 on these boards and commissions,âÄù Robin Garwood, policy aide for Gordon said. âÄúOne of the big projects we are working on is trying to figure out how to better connect to the [students] who are typically seen as âÄòtransient.âÄô âÄù As a recent graduate, Welch said she thinks that students would benefit from proper representation in Minneapolis government. âÄúI think if the city were able to adequately represent the students and University community, we would be able to proactively prevent problems and issues of acting out,âÄù she said. Gordon said he would be surprised if they found any person under 25 serving on a board or commission except in the areas where they specifically set a seat aside for younger members. After the audit is completed, which could be as soon as September, Gordon said he hopes to begin setting hiring goals and making changes at City Hall. âÄúWhen you have major segments of the population who arenâÄôt represented âĦ we are missing out on really good ideas,âÄù Gordon said. âÄúWe need to get some solid data and work from there to improve representation.âÄù