Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the second deputy manager position is a vacant city position, not a recently created position.
Hiring a manager of Equity and Organizational Performance is one of City Manager Luke Stowe’s top priorities in 2023.
He said, the city is posting the equity manager position on its website and other “normal channels” this week.
“I would describe this as critical work – especially in light of the report that we’ve received,” Stowe said, referring to the City of Evanston Black Employees Action Group’s report. “It’s obvious the city needs to do better going forward, so it will be one of our highest priorities in 2023.”
He said the city will also be looking to fill the vacant second deputy manager position to relieve him of some of his duties, so he can dedicate more time to managing the equity manager.
The city isn’t opposed to considering internal applicants, but city staff want someone with a “fresh outside perspective” and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work experience, Stowe said.
The search to fill the equity manager position comes a month after the anonymous group the City of Evanston Black Employees Action Group released a detailed report highlighting more than 60 allegations of racial discrimination within the city government. Shortly afterward, more than dozens of community members demanded action from the City Council.
“We need a leader, right, an internal leader, to take us forward and take us to the next step, and I think that’s what this position will be able to do,” Stowe said in reference to the manager of Equity and Organizational Performance position.
The equity manager will work under the direction of Stowe as the city’s “principal advisor” for racial equity within the workplace. The person selected for the role will coordinate and administer racial equity training for city staff, advise all layers of the city on DEI, review city’s policies and procedures with a DEI lens, track performance and conduct and present research.
Multiple hands will assist in the equity manager search process. The Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (REDI), a cross section of city employees and one or more commissioners from the Equity and Empowerment Commission will help Stowe with the interview process.
The committee played a role in drafting the equity manager job description and will work closely with the person selected to fill the role.
Kathleen Yang-Clayton, who is a member of the committee’s leadership team, said the committee’s research as well as national studies show that the DEI position shouldn’t be a figurehead. Instead, the position should be firmly embedded in the workplace’s organizational structure.
This isn’t the first time the city has had an equity manager type position. Evanston’s chief equity officer position had very similar responsibilities. Stowe said that position lacked internal support, however.
Chief equity officer vs. equity manager
When the chief equity officer position was filled by Patricia Efiom from 2017 to 2020, things were different. For one, the committee didn’t exist yet, Stowe said.
The Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (REDI) is made up of city employee volunteers who have been practicing operationalizing racial equity for the past two years. The group worked on equity projects that improved language access, employee education access, new manager training and service provision.
So when the newly hired equity manager begins working, that person won’t have to reinvent the wheel but instead can build off of the committee’s work, explained Yang-Clayton.
“One of the things that is going to be a huge resource is REDI,” Yang-Clayton said. “They’re not going to have to come in and have to figure out ‘Who can I work with? Who really wants to do this work?’ We’ve already started it.”
The equity manager will also be supported and empowered by the city manager, Stowe said.
“I will be making it very clear to all the directors and managers and supervisors that this person will have the backing directly from the city manager to be able to implement and operationalize the racial equity initiatives that we want to put forward, many of which are highlighted in that report,” Stowe said, referencing the City of Evanston Black Employees Action Group’s report.