Report Finds Lack Of Diversity In Major City Departments

A new report released Tuesday finds Boston's police and fire departments are among the least diverse in city government and is calling for new strategies to diversify the city's workforce.

The finding is part of a report released by the city's Office of Diversity, a new department created by Mayor Marty Walsh and led by Shaun Blugh, the city's first chief diversity officer who was appointed in December.

The report examined every department in city government, analyzing payrolls and the racial and gender makeup of each with a goal of establishing a benchmark of "where the the city stands currently with its workforce composition and set up guidelines for where we can go in the future," Blugh said in a phone interview.

For its analysis, the report looked at the city's 16,994 full-time and part-time employees.

Overall, the report finds the city's workforce is predominantly white (58 percent) and does not reflect Boston's diverse population. Hispanics make up 18 percent of the city's population, but only 11 percent of the city's workforce while Asians make up 9 percent of the city's population, but only 4 percent of the city's workforce, according to the report. However, blacks make up 23 percent of the city's population and 26 percent of the city's workforce, according to the report.

But, when it comes to leadership positions (department heads) all minority groups are very much underrepresented, the report found — 74 percent are white, 18 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 3 percent are Asian. (click image below to enlarge)


There is racial diversity among Walsh's cabinet, where minorities make up most of his appointments, though women are underrepresented there, the report found.

Racial diversity varied greatly across different city departments. Boston Public Schools, Boston Centers for Youth and Families and the department for Economic Development were among the most racially diverse departments, the report found. Here is a look at the 10 most diverse city departments (click image below to enlarge):


According to the report, the least racially diverse departments included the mayor's office and the department of labor relations in addition to the police and fire departments. Here are the 10 least diverse city departments (click image below to enlarge):


While the police and fire departments are not the least racially diverse, they are larger departments and represent a significant amount of city employees, according to the report. The report called the police and fire departments key areas to "truly move the needle" on diversity in City Hall.


The two departments will have more than 50 percent of the potential turnover of employees hitting retirement age in the next five years, making succession planning key, Blugh said. Those two departments are also a crucial areas that need to reflect the city, he said.

"There’s a lot of community relations in those functions, and I know the community would like to have more faces that look like theirs in a changing demographic city like Boston," Blugh said. "But I applaud the efforts of Commissioner [William] Evans and Commissioner [Joseph] Finn as we move forward, and they look to help me in the process of diversifying the workforce."

Blugh said he has already communicated with Evans and Finn about next steps.

The report also looks at the gender makeup across City Hall, which varied across departments. The Boston Fire Department, Public Works Department and parks department are skewed mostly male. Meanwhile, human resources, arts and culture and Boston Public Schools, skewed mostly female.

Here is a look at the departments with the most gender imbalance (click image below to enlarge):


In terms of salary, the report found white city employees earn a higher average annual salary than other racial groups. (click image below to enlarge)


There is also a gender pay gap across all city departments, according to the report — men make an average annual salary of $73,901 while women make an average of $65,038. The issue of pay disparities was a major point of discussion Tuesday, which was Equal Pay Day. Walsh attended an event along with business leaders to discuss equal pay and best practices for closing the wage gap.

The report on the city's workforce also makes several recommendations to address diversity, including increasing diversity training throughout all city departments, conducting an employee survey to assess employees' views on opportunities for advancement and working with professional organizations to improve job recruiting efforts.

In a statement, Walsh called the report a "blueprint" of where city hall is in terms of workplace diversity.

"It is our priority to not only improve the numbers but to create a strong pipeline that will ensure we are finding the best talent and cultivating that talent for positions throughout City Hall," Walsh said.


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Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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