OUR VIEW: Boards should strive for diversity

Published 8:12 pm Friday, June 28, 2019

The methods the county and city are currently using to find appointees to governmental boards all but assures they will continue to have the same people with the same backgrounds, ideas and views of the community.

Having boards that represent everyone in the community requires much more than a notice in the electric bills or a blurb on the county website asking for volunteers. It requires recruitment. The same type of recruitment Branch Rickey did when he reached out to Jackie Robinson and chose him to integrate the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Currently, the boards are engaged in a passive process. Volunteers are asked for and the boards could easily be filled with all white men as are currently two county boards and a city board.

Achieving diversity has to be an intentional process. First of all, the county and city have to actually care about the demographic makeup of the boards. That has not happened so far. Next, they have to seek out people in the community to find a balance.

Believing women and minorities are going to walk in to City Hall and volunteer to be on the planning commission is a nice dream.

Non-profit boards have the same problem. Many times, grant applications ask for the demographic makeup of their boards of directors, so they work to find people who reflect the demographics of the community they serve. The county and city governments should take the same approach.

With appointed boards of 60 percent white men, only 33 percent women and a scarce 6 percent minorities, it’s clear the county commissioners and city council have not been intentional about making their governments truly representative of the citizens they serve.

The questions that remain is if they care enough about the issue to make a change.