Frederick County Implementing Its Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging Plan

It includes employee training.

County Executive Jessica Fitzwater at her Monday Public Information briefing on equity and Inclusion.    (Photo from Frederick County, Md)

Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater presented an update on Monday on the progress being made in promoting more equity and inclusion in county government. She noted she unveiled her Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategic Workforce Plan last year. “As required by our DEIB Strategic Workplace Plan, we are providing mandatory countrywide foundational DEIB training for FCG {Frederick County Government} personnel,” she said. “We want all of our staff to have a shared understanding of what DEIB means, and why it’s so important to our workforce and community.”

She says some of that DEIB Workforce training is currently underway. “DEIB is so important that we began by training all the staff in the County Executive’s Office, including our staff from the Equity and Inclusion Office,  and myself too,” Fitzwater said. “It really was a great day, and truly just a start to the training that we will be doing together.”

Other initiatives in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategic Workforce Plan include employee resource groups to support workers  with shared traits or lived experiences; expansion of The EmPOWER program which provides the underrepresented businesses tools to grow their businesses; a Frederick County business directory where people can find categories of businesses  such as veteran-owned or women-owned; and the launch of the DEIB Champion Employee Recognition Awards.

Another part of the Strategic Plan that County Executive Fitzwater discussed was a disparity study to examine the county’s  procurement practices, to find out whether or not these practices are exclusionary. “The primary goal of the disparity study is to access, quantify, and evaluate any discrimination that may be occurring the marketplace,” she said. “Frederick County government has never undertaken a study of its procurement processes and awards in this way before.”

The county contracted with a company called MGT Consulting which began the study early in 2023. Fitzwater says the study is still underway. When it’s completed, she says the county can begin efforts to try to address any inequities found in the way the county awards contacts to businesses. “After we receive the report, we can evaluate all of the next steps. We want a meaningful equal business opportunity program that will directly impact our small, local, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses,” she says.

As part of Monday’s briefing, Tiffani Kenney, Frederick County’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, announced two new members of her staff. They are Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Madison Welder, and Administrative Coordinator Denise Murphy.

A news release from the county says County Executive Jessica Fitzwater made her announcement about its DEIB efforts as a way to kick off Pride Month for the LGBTQ community in Frederick County.

By Kevin McManus