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Murray Journal

Murray City Council approves Diversity and Inclusion Task Force recommendations

Sep 04, 2022 10:43AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

The Murray City Council approved a resolution at their Aug. 2 meeting accepting the recommendations made by an ad hoc Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The resolution moves forward to Mayor Brett Hales, who must decide how best to execute this resolution.

City Councilor Kat Martinez proposed forming the task force in January 2021. Its explicit purpose was to research and examine the relationship between the community at large and marginalized and underrepresented communities within the context of city policies, practices, and programming and to provide feedback that will help foster mutual understanding and respect among all members of the city.

“It is a resolution thanking the task force members and a resolution of support for designating an equity director to head any equity work within the city. What it does not do is mandate a full-time position with any immediate scope of the role; it gives the mayor’s office a lot of flexibility,” Martinez said.

Primarily, the task force had two primary goals: to increase access to services for all residents by identifying and removing barriers; and to improve the level of inclusion and safety all residents experience at city and community events.

“The primary takeaway from this task force is for the city to appoint an equity director. That person, in their role, would be to research, to educate, and implement policy. I mentioned that the city is already doing a lot of really awesome things, and some things are very department specific and will always be specialized, but there’s a lot of things that are experienced across all departments,” Martinez said.

Specifically, the director will be charged with creating a strategic Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) plan for the city. They will also seek ways to: standardize job postings and interview practices to ensure equitable and inclusive practices; identify and recognize meaningful days or seasons for all communities and cultures at a city level; research and implement the policies detailed in the “Policy Suggestions”; utilize social media, the website, and city newsletters to communicate with the public; and finally, standardize dress code do’s and don’ts.

“I’ll use (an example) that’s just very specific; social media or anything that’s going on the internet. There are best practices out there to make sure that anything you put on social media is accessible to someone with a screen reader. So someone who’s blind is accessing your social media; they can access everything you’re putting out there, from videos to images to text.

“That’s something that is not department specific. So for that, this role would be to research what are the best practices for creating a user-friendly, one-page or a template of ‘here’s what you do,’ ‘here’s what to look out for.’ The idea is also to take the burden of all that extra research and expertise from department heads,” Martinez said.

The second part of the resolution encourages the creation of an ongoing Equity Advisory Board to initiate and facilitate inclusion in Murray with a particular focus on community events by tasking this board with the directive to: recruit minority and marginalized community members to serve on the Equity Advisory Board; seek out and invite minority and marginalized community members and organizations to participate in current events; determine how to celebrate and include the many cultures within Murray in community events; engage with the Chamber of Commerce to collaborate on and promote inclusion, diversity, and equity events and initiatives; and provide relevant periodic recommendations to the city, where new needs or gaps become evident as Murray grows and evolves.

According to Martinez, the equity director position would likely start as part of a current position within the city. However, the job is unfunded, so it is the mayor’s discretion on how best to implement the resolution under current city staffing.