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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Discusses Upcoming Presentation to Select Board

Burlington Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee is preparing for its next presentation to the Select Board and focusing on the subjects members want to prioritize.

During last week’s meeting, members discussed what they should present at an upcoming meeting with the board, which could be held on August 15.

Committee member Nick Priest, who is also Select Board chair, said he spoke with Select Board member Nick Espejo about the committee’s initial plan to have three upcoming meetings. He said they thought that one area of the planned agenda, a look at the town’s policies regarding employee compensation, benefits and assessments, should be put on hold due to both a lack of definitive data and that most of those items fall under union contracts. He suggested instead they focus on broader points of values and philosophy rather than policy details at this stage.

“Right now we’re trying to get alignment among all the different leaders in the community to be more inclusive in language and understanding and be more adaptable at a higher level,” he said. “If we table that (Human Resource discussion) for the time being and focus our meeting on quarterly reviews, mission statement – we can focus on the higher level philosophical values and other things that are important and valuable.”

He added they could have a separate section of the meeting focused on the town’s approach to hiring and diversity.

“We can discuss creating a welcoming environment for all, a hiring process that engages all candidates and employee relations – supporting managers and the role they play in engaging expectations,” he said.

Priest also suggested the committee prepare to come to the meeting with concrete suggestions rather than engaging the board in an open discussion. As an example he pointed to a former discussion they had about creating different employee DEI scorecards and presenting the pros and cons of each rather than just talking about the idea of a scorecard. They also plan to recommend the board engage in training related to diversity and suggested that having options at the ready would be more impactful.

“If this committee comes prepared with suggestions for the workshop we’ll get a lot more productive feedback from the Select Board because they’ll have something to react to,” he said. “If we keep it condensed and robust I think we can get a high level of engagement from the board.”

The committee agreed to finalize their plans for the presentation at the next meeting on August 10.