Diversity Initiative To Sweep Through City Hall

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City of Windsor staff are in for a crash course on the topics of diversity and inclusion.

Council has approved nearly $63,000 for the first phase of a diversity and inclusion initiative which includes about $20,000 for employee training.

One of the early keys of the initiative is a survey review and workforce analysis costing roughly $27,000 that will tell councillors where improvements are needed. Technology like video remote interpreting and new software will also be part of the Phase One costs.

Mayor Drew Dilkens calls the initiative a great first step towards ensuring city hall reflects the community it serves.

City Diversity and Accessibility Officer, Gayle Jones, says the training is over and above what staff already get.

"This is enhanced training," says Jones. "It's trying to make sure all staff have a good, basic foundation of what it is to be tolerant, to know the value of diversity."

The city could soon be a on hiring spree of about 1,000 employees with about half of current city staff eligible to retire in the next five years.

"The project is more than just a hiring tool, but a way to make the city work better for residents," says Jones. "A person comes in, right away, you can pull up a screen and there can be an interpreter right there to talk to an individual — not just different languages, but also sign language, right on the spot — that's much better customer service."

Jones says the survey will look to give the city and council baseline information on the diversity of the corporation.

"We want to give people the chance to answer any question they want. If they don't want to answer a question about their sexual orientation, they don't have to, but if they do because it matters to them, they'll be able to give that information and some input into if there have been barriers for them," she says.

Total estimated spending for the first phase of the initiative tops $250,000 through 2020 — council has only approved $63,000 of that so far.