CITY MANAGER SEEKS DIVERSE WORKFORCE
March 17, 2007
Author: Art Thomason, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 5
MESA OFFICIALS PLAN TO INTENSIFY RECRUITING EFFORT
Revenue isn't the only resource in short supply at Mesa City Hall.
Including officials and administrators, police and firefighters, the city's
workforce needs more women and minorities to reflect the community's population
of females and non-Whites.
That's the findings of the city's latest look at its personnel roster as part of
an Affirmative Action Plan to expand diversity in the labor force over the next
"There are great benefits of having a very diverse workforce," City Manager
Chris Brady said during an interview this week. "As a community we serve a
variety of cultures and languages of people who interface with government a
Yet the city has to catch up to bring equity to the racial and gender mix,
particularly in the public safety departments where employees have the highest
percentage of personal contact with residents.
"I've told both the police chief and fire chief that we need more females --
better yet, minority females -- in their departments," Brady said. "We've got to
do a better job."
Diversity a goal
Brady's admonishment, city officials say, is supported by Mesa's multifaceted
affirmative action plan to attract more women and minorities amid growing
competition for their job applications from other municipalities and private
The plan is based on goals, not the use of quotas that led to the nation's
contentious debate over affirmative action as an answer to racial inequality and
to a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning inflexible quota systems in affirmative
In January, the city hired Bernadette Brown as a part-time human resources
recruiter to organize recruiting activities, coordinate outreach efforts and
build ties with schools and colleges in an effort to get young people to
consider careers in government and improve diversity.
A diversity-oriented, citywide recruitment team made up of representatives from
all city departments was formed within the last year to assist with community
outreach programs, job and career fairs and promotions of public service careers
to young people.
"There's going to be a more concerted effort and the recruiting base will be
expanded, especially with new openings," said Mary Berumen, the city's diversity
director. "One of our main challenges is establishing relationships with
minority communities and professional organizations and special-interest groups
that represent minorities to let them know when we have openings."
Since he took over as city manager in January 2006, Brady has hired former Los
Angeles Assistant Police Chief George Gascon, a Hispanic, as the city's top cop
and promoted Debra Dollar from deputy city manager to assistant city manager to
be responsible for day-to-day operations.
Brady said Gascon and Dollar were the most qualified for the jobs, but he also
hopes the appointments bolster confidence that even the city's highest jobs are
available to qualified candidates, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.
"It's a challenge," he said. "Minority candidates are on the top of every
American corporation and government recruitment list."
Exacerbating the difficulty, he said, is the shrinking pool of labor that meets
"We're just not getting the same number of applicants we used to get," Brady
Gascon said his biggest challenge is recruiting females and African-Americans.
"We also need candidates, regardless of their race or ethnicity, who are able to
communicate in other languages, particularly Spanish," he said. "We are looking
for ways to enhance our ability to hire a more diverse workforce."
The Fire Department also is intensifying minority recruitment efforts through
newsletters to colleges and universities and orientation programs that introduce
any qualified person to a fire service career, Assistant Chief Mary Camelli
"We want to try to reach as many out there as we can to match the community we
serve," she said.
Looking for help
City officials say Mesa's proactive affirmative action approach has helped
increase the percentage of minorities holding municipal jobs in the past 10
years. Even at that, the current figure, 22 percent, is less than the percentage
of minorities living in Mesa.
And that disparity, they say, is likely to expand with the booming growth of the
Records show that if it weren't for service, maintenance and skilled-labor
positions that the vast majority of minority city employees hold, Mesa's
diversity profile would be a paler shade of White.
For example, Hispanics hold 30 percent of the city's 330 service and maintenance
jobs but 8.4 percent of the city's 119 administrative posts.
They account for 17.26 percent of all city jobs.
African-Americans make up 3.33 percent of the service and maintenance workforce
while holding 2.52 percent of the administrative jobs. Across the entire city
workforce, Blacks account for 3 percent of the jobs.
"It's not so much the overall number of minorities, it's where they're located
in the hierarchical system," said Phil Austin, president of the Mesa Association
of Hispanic Citizens.
Just how far the city is behind also depends on what figures are used to measure
Mesa's minority status.
While the city officially recognizes the 2000 census, which shows that Hispanics
represent 20 percent of the city's population, Austin said the figure has risen
to nearly 25 percent, according to the mid-decade census estimate.
Native Americans and Asians each comprise 2 percent the population. People of
other races and those of two or more races make up 12 percent of the population.
Mesa Public Schools officials said that nearly 36 percent of the district's
students were Hispanic as of October 2006.
What do you think of Mesa's affirmative action efforts? Is it important?
Should the city even bother? E-mail your comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org; mail them to Editor, The Mesa Republic, 106 E.
Baseline Road, Mesa, AZ 85210, or comment online at the end of this article
found at mesa.azcentral.com. Comments might be used online or in print.