City Council members on May 8 unanimously approved paying a consultant $50,500 more to investigate the city’s Human Resources Department following misconduct allegations by the Black Employee Action Group. In a memo to the council, City Manager Luke Stowe requested a budget increase from $24,500 to $75,000 to fund another 288 hours of GovHR’s work.

On March 10 the city hired GovHR, a woman-owned HR and diversity and inclusion consultant, to conduct a human resources equity review. This review comes after the Black Employee Action Group’s November 2022 report described more than 60 examples of alleged racial discrimination within city government dating back to 2005.

The report specifically alleged that the former HR division manager, Megan Fulara, mishandled complaints submitted by Black employees. Fulara resigned seven days before the city hired GovHR to review the department. She wrote in an email to the RoundTable and city officials that she would participate in the review as needed. The consultant cost is funded by the city manager’s contingency account, which has $154,600 remaining from its $250,000 budget.

GovHR is conducting a full racial equity review of the HR department and is evaluating “department culture and readiness; policies and procedures; recruitment practices; hiring and promotions practices; and disciplinary actions,” according to the city and GovHR’s agreement.

The consultant will also investigate Black employees’ alleged workplace experiences, as cited in the action group’s report. GovHR’s will share recommendations that can be considered as part of the city’s “racial equity strategy,” according to its proposal.

“Although the BEAG [Black Employee Action Group] identified multiple layers of cultural and structural concerns and provided recommendations in several key areas, leadership has prioritized the human resources areas for immediate action,” the firm’s proposal read. “We recognize that some staff and stakeholders might participate in these types of projects with some level of hesitancy and resistance, and we use our expertise with organizational change management and facilitation tools and methodologies throughout the project to help ensure that the staff and stakeholders feel comfortable sharing their perspectives, concerns, and ideas.”

GovHR has used the majority of its 140 hours conducting listening sessions with the Black Employee Action Group, making recommendations and communicating with Stowe and City Council Member Krissie Harris (2nd Ward), according to the city staff’s May 8 memo.

“While it is uncertain how many hours will be needed, GovHR will only be paid for actual hours worked,” wrote Stowe in the memo.

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Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative reporting....

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