The City of Sun Prairie wants more people of color, different ethnic backgrounds and women to apply for city jobs to diversify its workforce.
To do that city officials want to stop “unconscious bias” on age, racial, ethnic and gender background by not allowing initial hiring screeners to see that applicant’s information. Questions on criminal convictions would also be eliminated from city employment applications, and would not be considered until the final hiring background check.
District 1 Alder Emily Lindsey and City of Sun Prairie Human Resources Director Brenda Sukenik crafted the changes to the city recruitment and selection policy and introduced them at the Feb. 13 Personnel Committee meeting.
In the last two years, 13 of 63 new hires were racial or ethnic minorities but Lindsey says the city needs to do more.
“It’s not just enough to say that we want to have a diverse workforce, we need to set some benchmarks and figure out a plan to achieve our goals,” Lindsey said at the Feb. 13 Personnel Committee meeting.
She says the changes could attract a more diverse pool of applicants to mirror the make-up of the community. An ad-hoc city diversity committee, a group of citizens, business owners and city officials that reviewed city policies, also recommended diversifying the city workforce.
City staff is currently 94 percent white, 2 percent black and 4 percent Asian. The city’s population is 85.4 percent white, 5.8 percent black, 4.7 percent Asian, 0.20 Native American, and 2.8 percent identify with two races or more, according to city statistics. The city’s Hispanic population, any race, is 3.9 percent.
The Sun Prairie Police Department has the highest number of employees of color, followed by the service and maintenance departments. Diversity in the upper echelon of administration, professional, and skilled crafts is the lowest.
The highest percentage of the city’s workforce is in in the 30-49-year-old range.
Sukenik said the city staff has tried to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants by attending job fairs and using job posting sites that advertise to minority and veteran groups. She said the city is also working with the high school for job recruitment.
She also said the city needs to review its policy so help retain its staff once hired. The non-seasonal turnover rate for the city in 2016 was 14 percent, in 2017 it was 11 percent.