Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer Says Frederick County Government Workforce Not Diverse Enough

Michael Hughes

He provided an update Tuesday night to the County Council.

Frederick, Md (KM) When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in its workforce, Frederick County Government gets a grade of “probably a C.” That’s according to Michael Hughes, the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. He spoke to the County Council Tuesday night, providing a 12-month review of his time on the job.

“We have relatively few people of color in leadership roles. We, therefore, have very few people of color in decision-making roles,” he said. “We, therefore, have fewer people of color in positions that are receiving higher salaries. And we have  difficulty retaining people of color when they do join our workforce.”

And this is especially true for Hispanic citizens who make up 5% of the population. “Yet across the board, in official administrative positions, 2.3%; professional, 1.7%; technical, 7.7%; protective services, 2.1%; para-professionals, 5.9%; skilled craftsmen, 1.5%. Not at all representative of the community,” says Hughes.

Hughes was hired last year to help correct this problem. “In a nutshell, I was brought on board to lead the county’s efforts and the County Executive’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in Frederick County,” he says

The division directors and other executives are committed to the goal of a more inclusive workplace, Hughes says. “Now, many of them may not have a deep understanding, but the commitment is there to be just and to be fair and believe in the value of a diverse workforce. So we’re doing extremely well in those regards,” he says.

But, Hughes says, the County hasn’t paid the necessary attention to this issue. “There may be some resistance because there’s a lack of exposure. We haven’t provided diversity training. So how can expect folks to be on board with DEI {Diversity, Equity, Inclusion} when we haven’t provided training for them,”: he says. “So there’s some things that we’re not doing that have led us to not being where we can and where we should be in terms of a workforce.”

However, Hughes says efforts are being made to deal with this problem, including a focus by division directors and their teams on procedures related to recruitment and hiring, and connecting  the County Government  with regional and national training in diversity and training resources. In addition job postings have been redesigned, and efforts are underway to create a culture of belonging, and an awareness and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

There’s also a vision statement for the Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team. “Ensure that the Frederick County Government prioritizes, institutes, invests in, demonstrates and sustains a systemic commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.”

Hughes also says a disparity study is expected to get underway next year.

When asked during the presentation whether he would require the workforce be certified in diversity, equity and inclusion, Hughes said he was “uncomfortable” making that mandatory.

By Kevin McManus