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Alderman Pushes For More Minority Hires
One city alderman is demanding change in positions of power in Springfield city government.
"There's hiring going on in the city of Springfield, just minorities aren't being hired," Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson said.
Numbers show that African Americans make up more than 18 percent of the general population in the capital city, yet less than 8 percent are employed by the city. Human Resources data shows more than 91 percent of Springfield city workers are white, and of the 185 supervisors and managers, only eight are minorities.
"People say, 'Well we want to get the most qualified people for the job and if that means that they're 91 percent Caucasian that's okay.' No, it's not. It's not okay," Simpson said.
The city has been working on a diversity plan for years. They hired Human Resources Generalist Dawn Henson in January to help them along.
"And so what we're doing is just getting out into the community to see what organizations are available that we can connect with, and making sure that we can funnel announcements through them," Henson said.
They're announcements like open positions and organizations like the Springfield Urban League. That is where Springfield resident James Palmer walks every day to earn his G.E.D.
Palmer says the issue of minority hiring is not just about race.
"I think it's more towards like the money, the money situation, because every race is capable of doing something." Palmer said.
And so is every sex. Henson says the city is working on recruiting women, since they make up only 20 percent of the city workforce. They are also looking to other cities for pointers.
"But this is sort of a long-term process," Henson said.
That is because the number of minorities in the general work pool is also low.
"When you talk about union structures and promotions we're locked in to what we really can do," Henson said.
So it could take awhile before we see a drastic increase higher up on the ladder. Simpson says that is not good enough.
She plans to push this issue once again at next week's Committee of the Whole. She says she is especially looking forward to some answers from Mayor Mike Houston, who was not at Tuesday night's meeting.